Is practicing rituals that are associated with your religious beliefs offensive or insensitive? When an Islamic mosque was built near Ground Zero, several people seemed to think so.
The terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center were very tragic, and I don’t think any American has forgotten the fear and sadness this event imparted.
However, from a Constitutional standpoint, a document patriotic citizens often seem to reference, it’s simply not fair to halt the creation of a religious building. This seems especially obvious when one realizes the Muslim demographic was not responsible for these attacks.
There is a significant population of Muslims within the United States, and a large concentration can be found in New York City.
Because this religion requires believers to pray five times a day, this mosque, Park51, is very helpful for those who previously had nowhere to worship.
Those of Islamic faith are not the only ones welcomed into Park51, and a 9/11 memorial is featured in the building. When the mosque was first being built, the developers did not consider the viewpoint of survivors of 9/11, according to an Associated Press article by Karen Zraick.
This article quoted developer Sharif El-Gamal, who said, “We didn’t understand that we had a responsibility to discuss our private project with family members that lost loved ones.”
Thankfully, the developers of the mosque decided to begin speaking with the people of the area. By hearing the opinions of others, Park51 became a community center that anyone could enjoy.
Previously, I had an issue with the creation of Park51, but now I believe preventing the building from being built is a direct violation of others’ rights.
It is often forgotten no religion, belief, thought or lifestyle has more importance or worth than another when a country is free. Thomas Jefferson, who authored the Constitution, said all had the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Seeing as a lot of value is placed in the Constitution, this idea should be taken seriously. By protesting the building of Park51, those who thought the mosque was offensive failed to see the rights the developers had.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to see the most ethical course of action when you have been wronged. Many families had to deal with the death of their innocent spouses, children, siblings and friends after 9/11.
While it is completely understandable people would still be mourning these deaths, it’s not right to blame the wrong group of people for those acts of terrorism.
It is true the people who hijacked the jets which caused the destruction in New York and Washington, D.C. identified themselves as part of an Islamist group, al-Qaeda. However, this hardly means Muslims as a whole partake in, or approve of, terrorist acts.
To put this in perspective, consider the Ku Klux Klan, a racist group responsible for the torture and killings of African-Americans, as well as other minorities, including Jews and homosexuals.
It may come as a surprise to learn the KKK identifies itself as Christian. Although it is easy to say the KKK has done several terrible things, including lynchings, murder, rape and arson, people don’t typically protest the creation of Christian churches.
It is definitely a double standard to label all the people of Islamic faith as “terrorists” due to 9/11, but to generally respect Christian ideals despite acts of terrorism from the KKK since after the Civil War.
Instead of offending Muslims and wrongfully discriminating against these people because of a terrorist attack, it should be realized they are not all terrorists. Thankfully, Park51 opened without any problems, but the protestors should have realized Muslims as a whole were not responsible for 9/11.