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Religious Tolerance logo

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

2010-AUG: New coalition. Judea
Pearl's & Grant Brooke's comments.

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2010-AUG-25: New coalition forms to support community center:

New York Neighbors for American Values has been organized as a coalition of 40 civic and religious organizations who support the community center project. Included are families of 9/11 victims. They held a rally at a municipal building near the World Trade Center site.

Talat Hamdani said:

"I lost a 23-year-old son, a paramedic who gave his life saving Americans and their values. ... [Supporting the mosque] has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with standing up for our human rights, including freedom of religion."

Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause's local office said that the groups "... spontaneously called each other, because we had the feeling that something very negative was happening." She referred to "irresponsible politicians" using it as an election issue. 4

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2010-AUG-26: Daniel Pearl's dad suggests moving location of community center:

In early 2002, reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and beheaded by radical extremist fundamentalist Muslims when he was on his way to interview a fundamentalist Muslim leader in Pakistan.

His father, Judea Pearl, told the Jewish Telegraph Agency that: "Public reaction tells us that it is not the right time, and that it will create further animosity and division in this country. If I were Mayor Bloomberg, I would reassert the right to build the mosque, but I would expend the same energy trying to convince them to put it somewhere else 5

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2010-AUG-28: Grant Brooke suggests anger towards center caused by unresolved grief:

Grant Brooke, M.Div. who is the 2010 Religion and Society Fellow at Princeton Theological Seminary wrote an eloquent and insightful article in the Huffington Post. He suggests that much of the anger against the proposed community center comes from unresolved grief over the deaths of the victims of 9/11. 8 The article deserves to be more widely read.

Grant Brooke writes:

    "... as I have listened to the publicly mourning and the politically capitalistic speak surrounding the Cordoba House Muslim Community Center over the past several weeks, I have come to notice the distinctive language of failed rituals.

    Our dead, it seems, have come back to haunt us because they were never properly buried.

    Americans across the nation have grasped on to the term 'families' to signify the privately aggrieved, regardless of relation or proximity to the events of September 11, 2001. 'Mosque' has become a term expressing far more the injustice of human existence than a House of God. People speak readily of the untended wounds of the dead, but practice silence on the topic of the peaceful, pluralistically driven, and loving Muslims who are seeking to build this center of community. In fact, most care little about which Muslims are building this center, or the fact that it is not in fact a mosque at all.

    A behavior that shouldn't surprise us, as any expert on grief will say that logic is not to be, in any way, expected from those in mourning. Pain is governing this moment.

    It seems our dead are rising because they have not been buried appropriately. Our dead are too easily disentombed by entrepreneurial politicians. We can see their disingenuous spirit by their opposition to healthcare benefits for the victims of 9/11 for their physical wounds, while -- at the very same time -- claiming to oppose the Cordoba House so as to avoid salting the psychological wounds of the same victims. With respect to these leaders, blaming the hopeless is hopeless.

    After all, false prophets and politicians have long been raiding tombs for the sake of their own ambitions. 'Remember the Alamo' was cried at San Jacinto, and the peaceful Armistice Day was converted to an embattled Veterans Day during a time of war. The spirits of those passed are potent tools for raising the passions of the present.

    It is with ourselves -- those who turn away disgusted by the hateful rhetoric we are hearing arising from some of these demagogues -- where we must direct our disappointment. Hate-mongers appear when societies fail to facilitate public grief, memorialize the dead, and be certain that they have been buried well. The dead must be attended to if we do not want them to be taken advantage of.

    Would there be a 'Ground Zero Mosque' controversy if those who died on 9/11 were appropriately kept down, and entombed, by a tasteful and sorrowful memorial structure? I doubt it. Rarely are we haunted by those who live under gravestones." 8

We are limited by copyright legislation in the amount of Brooke's article that we are allowed to quote. We recommend that you read the entire article on the Huffington Post. 8

At the time that Dr. Brook wrote this article, the 9th anniversary of 9/11 was less than two weeks away. Due to political failures at the municipal, state and federal level, there is nothing for mourners to visit at the site of the former twin towers of the World Trade Center other than a massive hole in the ground. All North Americans, and others as well, are mourners to some degree, without a suitable place to mourn.

The proposed community center will include a memorial to the victims of 9/11. However, this will be some six blocks from ground zero. If Brooke's beliefs are correct, then construction of a national memorial at the site should be given priority attention in order to aid in mourning and to defuse the hatred.

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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. Fox News Poll, 2010-AUG-13, at: This is a PDF file.
  2. Christa, "When Hearts divide, our Souls Collide," 2010-AUG-20, at:
  3. Maureen Dowd, "Going Mad in Herds," New York Times, 2010-AUG-21, at:
  4. "Muslim New York cab driver stabbed by 'baby-faced bigot' as Ground Zero mosque tensions threaten to spill over," Daily Mail (UK), 2010-AUG-26, at:
  5. David Seifman & Carl Campanile, "Daniel Pearl's dad: Move mosque," New York Post, 2010-AUG-26, at:
  6. Tom Hays, "Michael Enright Charged With Hate Crime: Ahmed Sharif, Muslim Cab Driver, Attacked For Religion," Huffington Post,2010-AUG-25, at:
  7. "History and logo," Intersections International, at:
  8. Grant Brooke, "Hindsight: Burying the ghost of Ground Zero," 2010-AUG-28, at:
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Copyright © 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2010-AUG-14
Latest update: 2010-AUG-29
Author: B.A. Robinson

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