Monday, January 30, 2012

“Ground Zero Mosque”: 3 Years Later

If you do not remember the “Ground Zero mosque” that was a media sensation, in early 2009, let me refresh your memory. A community center was proposed to be built near the site of the Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center used to stand. When this story was brought to the forefront people were defending and opposing the building of the community center-given its close proximity to such an emotionally tumultuous area. Ironically, the community center was near the site, but not within the 16-block radius labeled Ground Zero.

According to Time Magazine, “nearly 70% of Americans in a CNN–Opinion Research Corporation poll say they oppose a Ground Zero mosque.” I find it hard to believe, that almost three-fourths of the population did not approve the notion to build the center, having been presented with all the facts. I think this is due to the huge amount of general islamophobia in our culture as well as the one-sided news coverage often presented.

Mike Bloomberg, New York City Mayor, says, "We would betray our values and play into our enemies' hands if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else." On the flip side, Inayat Bunglawala, a supporter of Muslim rights, states,

Ultimately, we need to try to get to the point where our press apply the same standards to Muslims as to any other faith group or any other minority group community. Currently, no other faith group is treated with this barrage of inaccurate and often downright malicious misrepresentation in the national press. It is, of course, understandable that in view of the al-Qaeda terror threat we have seen in recent years that newspapers will often touch on the issue of Muslims and Islam in their reporting. That is, however, absolutely no excuse for their lies and incitement.”

I would agree with Inayat Bunglawala. Muslims, arguably more than any other group, is heavily persecuted not only by the members of our society, but by the leaders of our country in government and most often in news media. To avoid further potential conflict, I think legislation should review and limit the representation of minority religious groups in the country. This country is deeply rooted in Judeo-Christian favoritism and this is no longer an accurate representation of the people of the United States.

To reiterate, essentially, I think the infamous ‘Ground Zero mosque’, was an example of islamophobia in the twenty-first century. I would also like to point out the parallel of religious persecution of colonial religious groups, like Quakers and Protestants, and modern day religious groups like Muslims and Mormons. It is another perfect example of how scare tactics are used in the United States as a form of control. There was no legitimate “threat” in the building of the community center, but because Islam is a heavily debated issue in the context of time and place, it is easily misconstrued and shown in a negative light.

Although this case study does not directly coincide with new legislation, it does greatly involve the larger issue of religious freedom in this country.

Read more:,8599,2011400,00.html#ixzz1kwinDI4f

Preston L.


Aanal P. said...

I had been following this issue through the news and radio when it was being debated. I kept asking myself "is this issue controversial because it is a mosque and not a Mandir, Church, Synagogue,or Buddhist temple which is being built around the ground zero site?" All the arguments that were being posed in opposition to the building of the mosque,seemed to me, biased and in violation of the free exercise clause and may be even the establishment clause. By not allowing the building of a mosque by the ground zero site, sends the message that the United States is a biased christian nation which doesn't allow freedom of practice of world religions(especially Islam currently). The fact that a mosque cannot be constructed shows the anti-Islam sentiment prevalent in the american public due to the false media interpretation of Islam and muslims and also the amount of ignorance towards Islam and muslims. One can even make the argument that these kinds of actions show that the United States has declared, regardless of it being de-facto, Christianity its endorsed religion. In other words, the U.S. has established Christianity as a religion and therefore Christianity could exercise greater freedom than other religions, especially Islam, at this point in history.

jacobr said...

This blog highlights various issues in our society that revolve around the notion of social order and acceptable behavior in or society at large. I don’t think that religion is the cornerstone of the American resentment towards Muslims and other religious groups. On the other hand, I believe that religion is a convenient front and/or excuse to target individuals with different cultural and social norms than that of White Anglo-Saxons. To view other societies as anything less than barbaric would go against the Anglo notion of divine Right and Providence to rule over all non-Anglos.
While I must concede the fact that Religion has been a vehicle use to reinforce and spread this false ideology of a Superior Master Race, religion itself is not the culprit. The practitioners of the Faith, in particular sects of religious practitioners, have utilized legitimate religious establishment to promote and further their own false ideology at the detriment of the World Community.

Angela S. said...

I do not think that it is fair to say that this case shows a lack of religious freedom in America today. Yes there were debates about the mosque and yes people were upset concerning the project, but the tyranny of the majority did not win out in this case. When I searched on Google for it one of the top responses I found was a story which shows that the mosque opened last November. Islamophobia is definitely something that needs to be worked on, but at least in this case we are not giving our government enough credit.

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Alicia said...

Preston, I agree with you here in terms of the misrepresentation of Muslims in the media and also that part of the debate and protest against an Islamic community center close to Ground Zero has much to do with “Islamaphobia.” However, I think there is a much more subtle and elementary reason that is behind the opposition’s stance- that is empathy towards the healing process of the 9/11 victims’ families and the country as a whole. While, yes, it is completely legal to build the community center (Muslim or not) at the proposed location, to me, its matter of sensitivity.

Emrah K said...

I think Islamophobia is very normal in the United States because you can hear often "Islamic terrorism' in the media. As a Muslim, I can say that a Muslim can practice Islam in the US better than Turkey. But it is not because Americans do not have prejudices about Islam, but because in the US there is the freedom of religion. Thus, if there is a matter beyond laws, the people show their prejudices easily. However, while many Americans have such prejudices about Islam, I think, building a mosque in the Ground Zero site may help people to know what Islam is.

Gabe AB said...

As you alluded to in your post, the real problem is the fact that Americans tend to group all Muslims in with the extremist militant ones that make up a fraction of Islam. However, this deeply ingrained prejudice goes beyond media perceptions. While most Americans can see that the "newsworthy" Christians that commit violent crimes or sexual abuse do not reflect on Christianity as a whole, they are unable to make the same differentiation with Islam.

Amber P. said...

To imply or insinuate that America is the only phobic nation is ridiculous. Phobias and discrimination exist worldwide because of PEOPLE. There are a number of Islamic nations that forbid someone even believing in Jesus. AND… that belief in some Islamic countries can result in a gruesome death. Our family knows of one man in Afghanistan currently on death row unless he renounces Jesus as his savior. The Voice of the Martyrs organization tracks all of these heinous deaths and atrocities – you can see them at Discrimination will exist anywhere people are – because PEOPLE don’t like people who are different than them. Until the world can respect others, until the world can see others in the same light that they see themselves discrimination will exist everywhere. Let’s work on educating the people – the government is run by the people.

Noorin K. said...

I agree with Aanal and question whether the public and media would have been just as hesitant with another religious traditions’ place of worship. I do not believe there would have been a single issue if there were to be a Christian church proposed at the same site. As much as we would like to say that we separate church and state, we always connect the two when they should be the least correlated. I know there is an issue of sensitivity since the attacks were my Muslim extremists and I do see where the scrutiny comes from. Why did they have to pick a location so close to Ground Zero? Was there not another area a bit further away that wouldn’t feel like rubbing salt in a wound?

Sachin G said...

Islamophobia is very much prevalent in this country. But we all know the reason why.. 9/11. There seems to be notion that muslims are all bad. But it isn't just in the united states, its all over the world.I remember living in india when i was like 5 years old, that Muslims were prejudiced against at that time too, i dont remember the reason why. But Building a Ground Zero Mosque close to the site, in my opinion was not a good idea, while it may be legal. But it may anger the families of the victims of 9/11. US is a predominantly christian nation, and i dont think perceptions of Islam are ever going to change in this country or any other.