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Park51: Muslim Leaders Make Their Stand

Wednesday, September 01, 2010 - 05:05 PM

Just yesterday I cited an article in The American Muslim magazine asking where Muslim leadership has been over the Park51 issue. Well, today those leaders finally appeared: on the steps of City Hall. The group, known as the Majlis Ash-Shura of Metropolitan New York, aka the Islamic Leadership Council, braved the furious heat (remember, observant Muslims aren't even drinking water these days) and the questions of a sizable press contingent as they tried to reframe the story.

The real issue, they said, wasn't Park51 per se -- it's the use of this controversy to drum up opposition against mosques across America, and against Muslims, to the extent that Muslims have been violently attacked and mosques desecrated.

"We call upon the political and the religious leaders of this nation to stop fanning the flames of hatred," said Imam Al-amin Abdul Latif, the president of the Majlis, who wore his beard a brilliant henna orange.

Like Latif, the vast majority of the imams who attended the event were of African descent. With a couple of exceptions, Arab, South Asian and Indonesian leaders were absent. Aside from religious leaders, Robert Jackson also spoke -- he's the only Muslim member of the City Council -- as well as Congressman Charlie Rangel.

Does the Majlis have clout? I put the question to a Muslim activist the other day. He laughed (by email) and suggested, not as much as it likes to think. But this was the first event organized by Muslims that has tried to push back against opponents of Park51. And judging by the media turnout, there is a real interest in hearing from Muslims on this issue, especially in the absence of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of Park 51 (who only returned today from abroad).

Imam Talib Abdur Rashid pointed out that Ground Zero has meaning for Muslims as well, given that hundreds of Muslims died on 9/11.

"There were Muslim firemen," he said, "Muslim police officers, Muslim EMTs, Muslims chaplains, both male and female, who ministered to the families."

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Comments [7]

athar from AFG

OK I AM HERE IN AFGHANISTAN DEPLOYED ALL MOST 17 MONTHS FIGHTING TOGETHER WITH MARINES SO? AMERICA IS TELLING ME NOW I AM OK IF I AM FIGHTING FOR AMERICA BUT I AM NOT GOOD IF I GO AND PRAY IN MOSQUE IN AMERICA

Sep. 06 2010 04:14 PM
BigGuy from Queens

All this talk of a Mosque at Ground Zero is nonsense. One, it's not a Mosque. Two, it's not at Ground Zero.

What's planned for the Burlington Coat Factory location is a gym and locker rooms with a chapel on the side or on the top floor, sort of like a YMCA or a YMHA. It's two big blocks away from the WTC site and not that many people walk by there now, or even walked by there before 9/11. Burlington Coat Factory kept the store open because they owned the location, having bought it cheap in the 70's, but they never got much foot traffic there.

It's a third of a mile away and underused now. Not one person in a 100 visiting the WTC site goes by there. Probably not even one in 500. Saying its a sacrilege against the heroes of 911 is loony right wing propaganda. It's not.

I'm a tour guide for Gray Line. I have asked the people aboard my downtown loops and night loops that begin in Times Square at 47th Street and 7th Avenue, "Has anybody here walked over to 9th Avenue and 47th Street? Has anybody here even been at the corner of 9th Avenue and 47th Street?" Walking those two cross town blocks is SHORTER than the distance from Ground Zero to the Burlington Coat Factory. On 4 buses, with over 180 passengers altogether, NOT ONE person had been two cross town blocks west.

Sep. 06 2010 09:18 AM
Fotios Padazopulos from a US citizen

There have been quite a few Mosques and Islamic centers in Europe where for years radical Muslims cultivated and trained others to hate and hit the West. Will, anybody, at all, outside our law enforcement agencies be able to detect such people in this site? Or will these supporters complain if the FBI checks on them? Our national security is far more important than the feelings and religious needs of some. These supporters should rather spend time to convince Islamic countries to allow (and not punish) Westerners to practice their religion when in an Islamic country. Allowing a center, of whatever nature, to be built is a pure and calculated offense to the USA and those who died there. The President should step in and exercise his executive power to forbid even any relative talking.

Sep. 04 2010 10:16 AM
Edward D. Weinberger from Manhattan

If the site of the World Trade Center is such hallowed ground, then why are there strip clubs nearby? We took our hit; let's move on.

I'm just grateful that people like Imam Rauf are willing to build such a center, a center intended to help bridge the gap between Islamic and western cultures. Wherever the center gets built, perhaps it will memorialize the many contributions of Islamic culture to the world. OK, one of them, the development of algebra, holds its own form of terror for many westerners, but banning this community center for that reason makes about as much sense as banning it for being too near Ground Zero.

Sep. 03 2010 03:31 PM
Manola from NYC forever

I have lived near a Baptist Church - loud singing early in the morning on Saturday and Sunday, a mosque - call to prayer at the crack of dawn and chanting Buddhists - chanting starting at dawn that continued for hours. All I ask is that people keep it quiet when they worship/meditate/pray because we don't need any more noise.

Sep. 03 2010 07:37 AM
Sara Katz from Brooklyn, NY

To David (and all the others who seem to forgot these facts)

1. Over 300 innocent Muslim civilians died at Ground Zero. Do you want to deny their families a place of spiritual healing?

2. The building is NOT A MOSQUE but a community center that will have a prayer room inside. There will be no domes, no minarets, no call to prayer.

3. The "Ground Zero 'Mosque' " is not at Ground Zero, but two blocks away. There is already a mosque four blocks away, and guess what, it's not noticeable.

A question for all those opposed to the community center: Do you want to ban Muslim people in Muslim dress from visiting Ground Zero? Because it sounds like that's what you want, but you're just too afraid to come right out and say it.

Sep. 02 2010 05:54 PM
David Catleugh from UK

"We call upon the political and the religious leaders of this nation to stop fanning the flames of hatred,"
A good start would be NOT building a mosque on the site of a building damaged in the 9/11 attacks, or is it only non-Muslims who have to show sensitivity. How about Imam Rauf trying to raise funds from Christians and Jews, as well as Muslims, and building a true inter-faith centre, complete with mosque, church, and synagogue?

Sep. 02 2010 02:41 AM

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