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A proposed Muslim community center near 9/11's "ground zero"

2010-JUN: Demonstration. Sojourners magazine
article. More information and misinformation.

Sponsored link.

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2010-JUN-06: A demonstration against the community center:

An unknown number of demonstrators opposed to the community center rallied in Manhattan. It was organized by a number of groups, including:

  • "Stop Isamization of America" whose main purposes are to preserve freedom of speech in the face of what they regard as Islamic supremacist intimidation, and to resist any moves towards accepting Sharia law in the U.S.;
  • Families of the 9/11 Victims;
  • The New York City Firefighters;
  • The Tea Party Activists of Brooklyn and Staten Island.

The crowd filled Zucotti Park, which, ironically, is located on the corner of Church and Liberty streets. They held many protest signs including:

  • "Ground Zero is a War Memorial - No Mega Mosque here."
  • "You Can Build a Mosque at Ground Zero - When Can We Build a Synagogue in Mecca?"
  • "Pack Your Sharia [Law] and Get out."
  • "Mayor Bloomberg: This Mosque Has Radical Ties - and you still approve?"
  • "Ground zero is a war memorial."
  • "No 9/11 mega mosque."
  • "Stop welcoming Islamic terrorists."
  • "No mosque at a war memorial." 1
  • "Mosque at ground zero: the monument to terrorism."
  • "Building a Mosque at Ground Zero is like building a memorial to Hitler at Auschwitz."
  • "Bloomberg's Legacy: 9-11 memorial: The Ground Zero mega-mosque."
  • "I will NOT submit. Lan Astaslem" (Lan Astaslem" means "I will not submit" in Arabic)
  • "Qur'an 3:151: 'Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers.' We're unbelievers and we're not going to put up with your TERROR B.S."
  • Iman Feislal's Cordoba House mosque will demand Sharia law, Sharia law destroys democracy."
  • Mayor Bloomberg: Watch the money trail.
  • "Sharia law kills freedom."
  • "Sensitivity goes both ways. If you really care, build it elsewhere."
  • "President Obama, Senator Schumer, Governor Patterson, Mayor Bloomberg: Stop this mosque!!! 'You're killing the 9-11 victims again' It's a slap in the face to all Americans."
  • "A proud American infidel."
  • "What would make Terrorist #1 Osama Bin Laden more happy that a mosque dominating over the ashes of his victims [undecipheral] fallen Americans?"
  • "Sharia enslaves women and abuses kids! New Yorkers are sick of Jihad. We will fight back!" 2
  • "Islam hates women"
  • "A mosque at ground zero spits on the graves of 9/11 victims. Stand up America."
  • "Wake up USA! They are spitting in our face." 3

As is common among protests, nobody has the foggiest idea how many people attended the demonstration:

  • CNN iReporter Julio Ortiz-Teissonniere, who attended the rally and sent photos to CNN, said the number was on the order of 200 to 300. 4

  • Pamela Geller, of "Stop the Islamicization of America," said that the NYPD and security at the rally estimated that 5,000 people were present. But according to NYPD spokesperson Sgt. Kevin Hayes, the department has a policy of not providing crowd estimates. 4

  • Jihad Watch has a report on their website titled "10,000 throng to protest Islamic supremacist mega-mosque at Ground Zero. It is rare that one sees as many errors crammed into one title: It is very unlikely that there were 10,000 protestors at the demonstration; the Imam and sponsors of the proposed building are seeking coexistence, not Islamic triumphalism; the building is a community center dedicated to religious dialogue, that contains mosque on part of one of its 13 floors; the building would be six blocks away from ground zero. 5

  • Jihad Watch quoted World Net Daily's report on the demonstration which states: "As many as 10,000 protesters from across the country lined up in the reported that:
    "As many as 10,000 protesters from across the country -- including family members who lost loved ones on Sept. 11, 2001 -- took to the streets in New York City Sunday to fight construction of a 13-story Islamic mosque to be built just steps from Ground Zero where Muslim terrorists murdered 2,751 people in the name of Allah."
    What exactly does "As many as 10,000" mean? Is a six-block separation "just steps" away?

In religious and other ideological conflicts, as in war, the first casualty is the truth.

Among the speakers at the rally were:

  • Pamela Geller, executive director of Stop the Islamization of America, said:

    "We're not here today to condemn Muslims or Islam, but we are here today to condemn the kind of mosque that will teach the very same radical ideology that gave birth to the 9/11 attacks."

    "Building a mosque just several blocks away from Ground Zero is an insult and an affront to every single person that was killed on 9/11, to their families, to the first responders and every concerned American who cherishes liberty, democracy and freedom.

    She appears to be unaware that the structure will be a community center that contains a mosque, and that the sponsors are from the Sufi tradition of Islam who are being oppressed in Saudi Arabia by those of the Wahhabi tradition of Islam, and in other predominately Muslim countries.

  • Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy noted that the Cordoba House project is predicted to cost $150 million and that the site was purchased in 2009 for $4.85 million. He feels that there should be a full disclosure about the source of the money and seems to believe that money to fund the project will come with strings attached. He said:

    "There should be transparency about who those investors are; whether that money is coming from a domestic source or not, and if it's coming from foreign interests we need to know, because I think that's a liability, and it shows that there is another agenda rather than domestic security and tranquility."

  • James Lafferty of the Virginia Anti-Sharia Task Force said:
    "3000 pairs of eyes are looking down at us today. ... These evil, cowardly bastards who took the lives of those proud Americans on 9/11 will be remembered forever and this mosque which represents the triumph of Islamic fanaticism will not be built if we have anything to say. ..."

    "The good people of the USA must also stand in solid unity with the Israel Defense Forces who are waging a war against Hamas terrorism as was evidenced several days ago when they intercepted a Turkish based flotilla of ships whose aim it was to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. It is the IDF who is on the front lines in the battle against Islamic radicalism and we must support them".

  • Dr. Babu Suseelan, a Hindu human rights activist, said:
    "We Hindus and Sikhs have a story to tell. Islamists killed 80 million of us since 700 AD and they continue to kill us. They destroyed 3,000 glorious temples and built mosques over them. In the last 60 years, Islamists in Pakistan wiped out infidel Hindu and Sikh populations. At one time we represented 25 percent of the population and now we are less that 1 percent."

    “Know this: The 9/11 mosque is not a symbol of understanding. It is a symbol of conquest. Imam Rauf is a master of Taqiyya, which is the use of deception to forward the agenda of Islam. What Faisal Shahzad failed to accomplish in Times Square on May 1st with overt jihad, Imam Rauf will succeed with stealth jihad."

  • Jay Townsend, (R), candidate for the U.S. Senate from New York, said:

    "Not here! Not now!"The wounds have not healed, Imam. And we cannot so soon forget. The hatred that spawned this assault on our sensibilities is still taught in too many of your mosques and inscribed into too many of your prayer rugs." 6

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2010-JUN-08: Article by Julie Clawson in Sojourners magazine:

Ms. Clawson discusses people's reactions to intense evil such as terrorist acts and mass murder:

  • One extreme is represented by the Amish community who exhibited forgiveness towards the mass murderer who shot ten girls at one of their schools; they also supported and comforted surviving members of his family.

  • The other extreme is represented by the reaction of many Americans to 9/11. It was to hate and fear the entire Muslim population of the world for the actions of 19 Muslim fundamentalist, violent, extremists and their Al Qaeda organizers.

She described these two reactions in the life of her grandfather who was a naval officer in World War II. After the war, he forgave the Germans, but still held extreme contempt for the Japanese. She wrote:

"Forgiving those like us is easy; extending mercy to those who are other is where our fear often strangles our compassion. ..."

" So while we applaud the Amish women for their acts of forgiveness, the fear and hatred sparked by the events of 9/11 still inform the average American’s opinion of Muslims. So to the protesters, the building of a Muslim center and mosque so near the site of Ground Zero is just another act of violence — a threat to American supremacy. There is no forgiveness of the terrorists and the grudge against them is extended to all Muslims. ..."

"... it is pure fear of the other that is sparking some to say just having Muslims near Ground Zero is offensive. It is heartbreaking knowing that many of the protesters are there claiming to represent Jesus while they scream their message of hate. This isn’t just about protesting political ideas but a demonstration of our bondage to sin. The images of the protest hurt as they mock everything the faith I follow claims to uphold. As I wait to see how this current drama unfolds, I can’t help but wonder what it will take for American Christians to move from just fetishizing forgiveness to actually letting mercy and compassion for all rule our hearts. 6

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Mid 2010-JUN: Information and misinformation about the cultural center:

There were two main factors being misrepresented in the media about Cordoba House:

  • The first is the precise location of the mosque relative to ground-zero -- the previous location of the twin towers of the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York City that were demolished as a result of a suicide mission by a group of radical, violent, fundamentalist Muslims.

    Many websites describe the location of the community center as:
    • "at ground zero,
    • "steps away from ground zero,"
    • "near ground zero,"
    • "on top of the site,"
    • "feet away from the WTC,"
    • etc.

    In reality, the structure would be located at 45 Park Place. It is to be located two blocks away from the nearest edge of the WTC property, about the equivalent of six blocks from the center of ground zero -- the former location of the twin towers.

  • The second error is one that we inadvertently picked up and repeated ourselves on Facebook. The facility would not be a mosque; it would be a YMCA-like community center, that contains a mosque on part of one of its 13 floors. The building would include a prayer room, a basketball court, art exhibitions, 7 as well as "... an auditorium, swimming pool, restaurants, and child care facilities - all aimed at revitalizing Manhattan's financial district by providing 150 full-time jobs, 500 part-time jobs, and pouring $100 million in infrastructure." 8

A map of the area showing the former WTC site, the proposed cultural center and city hall was published by the New York Times. To our knowledge, it is the only media source that precisely identified the location of the proposed center when we originally wrote this essay on 2010-JUN-04. 9

The building that is currently at the site was damaged when a plane's landing-gear crashed through the roof and traveled down through two floors. The building, a former Burlington Coat Factory outlet, was abandoned after the tragedy and has been used by Muslims since 2009 as a temporary mosque.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, 61, the Sufi cleric leading the project, said that a presence so close to the World Trade Center:

"... where a piece of the wreckage fell, sends the opposite statement to what happened on 9/11. ... We want to push back against the extremists." 9

The American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA) and the Cordoba Initiative allegedly purchased the building site in 2009.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Fern Sidman, "Demonstrators say 'No' to mosque at ground zero," Israel National News, 2010-JUN-07, at: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/
  2. El Marco, "Where was Fox News? Censored protest at ground zero. Stop the mosque at Ground Zero. Part II.," RevoldAgainstMarxism.com. 2010-JUN-16, at: http://revoltagainstmarxism.com/
  3. Chelsea Schilling, "10,000' throng to stop Ground Zero mosque: Group vows to sue federal government: '3,000 good Americans didn't die in vain'." World Net Daily, 2010-JUN-07, at: http://www.wnd.com/
  4. "Protesters descend on Ground Zero for anti-mosque demonstration," CNN, 2010-JUN-07, at: http://edition.cnn.com
  5. "10,000 throng to protest Islamic supremacist mega-mosque at Ground Zero," Jihad Watch,
  6. Julie Clawson, "Forgiveness, fear and the mosque at ground zero," Sojourners magazine, 2010-JUN-08, at: http://blog.sojo.net/
  7. Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/
  8. Carma Hassan, "New Yorkers Come Out to Level Proposed Ground Zero Mosque," Illume, 2010-MAY-27, at: http://www.illumemag.com/
  9. "Muslim Prayers and Renewal Near Ground Zero ," New York Times, 2009-DEC-08, at: http://www.nytimes.com
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Copyright © 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2010-JUL-27
Latest update: 2010-AUG-01
Author: B.A. Robinson

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