The "9/11 Mosque" aka Cordoba House

Written by  //  October 3, 2010  //  Rights & Social justice, U.S.  //  No comments

When an Arab Enclave Thrived Downtown
All but lost to living memory and forgotten in the current controversy, Washington Street was the “heart of New York’s Arab world,” as The New York Times described it in 1946, shortly before that Arab-American community was almost entirely displaced by construction of entrance ramps to the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel.
To be clear: this neighborhood, called Little Syria, was south of what would become the trade center site, while the Islamic center would be to the north. And Muslims, chiefly from Palestine, made up perhaps 5 percent of its population. The Syrians and Lebanese in the neighborhood were mostly Christian.

Park51 drawings prove how far ‘Ground Zero mosque’ claims are from truth
Plans for $120m project suggest building will be a multifaith community centre, including gym and playground
(The Guardian) Judging by the criticism thrown at the Muslim centre planned for downtown Manhattan, you would think developers intended to build an Islamic citadel right on top of Ground Zero with “sponsored by al-Qaida” written on its front.
In fact, the proposed scheme for the much-slated “Ground Zero mosque” is neither a mosque nor at Ground Zero – it is a multifaith community centre with an Islamic prayer area, two blocks north of the site where the twin towers once stood. Now, conceptual drawings of the building have been released, revealing a planned structure that is strikingly modern and in keeping with the spirit of New York‘s most cutting-edge design.
17 September
A very different perspective on the developer of Cordoba House
Stephen Suleyman Schwartz: Feisal Abdul Rauf’s Repellent Record as a Property Developer
(Hudson Institute) The contrast between Rauf’s continuing sleek performances at high-level venues like CFR, and the squalor present in his New Jersey rental properties, merely adds to the distasteful portrait of his character offered by the widely-acknowledged insensitivity of the Ground Zero Mosque concept, his ambivalence about Islamist radicalism, his admiration for the Iranian clerical dictatorship, and his lack of transparency about the presumptive financial sources for erection of Cordoba House/Park51. His “alternate” role as an oppressive and unresponsive rental proprietor was first revealed by shoe-leather reporters at such print newspapers in New Jersey as the Bergen Record, which first got the story at the end of August, and the Newark Star-Ledger. When their stories broke in New Jersey, Rauf was still away from the U.S., and his wife, Daisy Khan, told the Record his problems with tenants had “‘no relevance to the Park51 project. The Imam does not get paid for his spiritual work or work as an Imam,’ she wrote. ‘He invests in real estate, much as someone would invest in stocks, bonds or other assets to secure one’s future and provide an income stream. He has dedicated his life to helping others working as an Imam.'” She went on to claim that tenant problems were fixed as soon as they were brought to Rauf’s attention, but Union City’s complaint says otherwise.
10 September
Pastor Cancels Koran Burning and Plans to Meet Imam
The pastor planning a burning of the Koran on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks said Thursday he would not go forward with the event, adding he would meet with the imam planning to build an Islamic center near ground zero.
But a deal that the pastor, Terry Jones, said that he had reached to move the Islamic center far from ground zero seems to be more vision than reality. The imam planning the center, Feisal Abdul Rauf, said in a statement that he had not spoken to Mr. Jones or Muhammad Musri, the Orlando Imam who has been acting as a mediator between New York and Gainesville. (The Independent) Terry Jones: Bonfire of one man’s vanity — Pastor abandons Koran-burning stunt, but too late to stop worldwide fury – and bloodshed
9 September
Gail Collins: The 5 Percent Doctrine
The Koran-burning has been equated, in some circles, with the fabled ground zero mosque. This is under the theory that both are constitutionally protected bad ideas. In fact, they’re very different. Muslims building a community center in their neighborhood on one hand. Deliberate attempt to insult a religion that is dear to about 1.5 billion souls around the globe on the other. When this sort of thing happens, it is important to remember that about 5 percent of our population is and always will be totally crazy.
7 September
Building on Faith
By FEISAL ABDUL RAUF, Chairman of the Cordoba Initiative and the imam of the Farah mosque in Lower Manhattan.
Let us commemorate the anniversary of 9/11 by pausing to reflect and meditate and tone down the vitriol and rhetoric that serves only to strengthen the radicals and weaken our friends’ belief in our values.
The very word “islam” comes from a word cognate to shalom, which means peace in Hebrew. The Koran declares in its 36th chapter, regarded by the Prophet Muhammad as the heart of the Koran, in a verse deemed the heart of this chapter, “Peace is a word spoken from a merciful Lord.”
How better to commemorate 9/11 than to urge our fellow Muslims, fellow Christians and fellow Jews to follow the fundamental common impulse of our great faith traditions?
US: Religious Leaders Condemn Growing Islamophobia
(IPS) Leaders of some three dozen mainstream U.S. religious denominations Tuesday condemned what many commentators have called a rising tide of Islamophobia touched off by the recent controversy over the construction of a Muslim community centre in Lower Manhattan. The group, which included national leaders of the Muslim and Jewish communities, as well as from the Roman Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches, singled out the threat by one Florida church to publicly burn copies of the Qu’ran to mark the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
5 September
From the Other Side of Ground Zero, Anti-Muslim Venom
(NYT) Bill Keller, the Internet evangelist promoted his center, which he called the 9/11 Christian Center at Ground Zero, as a religious counterweight to the mosque, which he repeatedly called a “victory mosque” or a monument to “a great Muslim military accomplishment”. His career arc makes him a somewhat unusual standard-bearer: Mr. Keller became a preacher after serving a sentence in federal prison for insider trading, as he says in a biography posted on his Web site. UGH!
3 September
New York Poll Finds Wariness About Muslim Center
Two-thirds of New York City residents want a planned Muslim community center and mosque to be relocated to a less controversial site farther away from ground zero in Lower Manhattan, including many who describe themselves as supporters of the project, according to a New York Times poll.
1 September
Islamic Center Imam: Fight Could Shape Future Of Muslims In America
(HuffPost) Rauf suggested that the fierce challenges to the planned mosque and community center in lower Manhattan could leave many Muslim questioning their place in American political and civic life.
But he avoided questions over whether an alternative site is possible. Instead, he repeatedly stressed the need to embrace the religious and political freedoms in the United States.
28 August
Let Reformation Begin at Ground Zero
(Newsweek) The debate over the Islamic center in lower Manhattan—the mosque with a pool and a prayer room—is not a matter of being for religious liberty and thus for the center, nor is it one of being against the center and therefore a bigot. Sometimes life offers such stark moral crises. This is not one of them.
To indict a faith for the sins of a few, though, is a tricky business. Christians have massacred innocents before, too, and they have interpreted Scripture in ways to justify slavery, and the subjugation of women, among other things.
Still, Islam needs reform. There are virulent elements of anti-Semitism and sexism abroad in the faith. There are, as we have noted, big strains of extreme anti-Western, specifically anti-American, hatred.
27 August
Ross Douthat: More on Rauf and Moderate Islam
… Certainly I don’t see the imam as a deeply sinister figure, or a brilliant machiavel with vast and dark designs. But he does seem like the kind of person who makes excuses for sinister figures, and curries favor with them, and bobs and weaves where their crimes are concerned, all in the name of dialogue and evenhandedness. And that seems like sufficient grounds for criticism and mistrust.
26 August
Saudi Royal Backs Imam and Fox News
In an awkward moment on Fox News this week, a pundit suggested that a member of the Saudi royal family who has supported the bridge-building work of the imam behind a planned Muslim community center and mosque in Lower Manhattan “funds radical madrasas all over the world.” The awkwardness came from the fact — unmentioned by anyone on the Fox set — that the same Saudi, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, also happens to be the second-largest shareholder in News Corp., the parent company of the Fox News Channel.
22 August
Frank Rich: How Fox Betrayed Petraeus
(NYT) THE “ground zero mosque,” as you may well know by now, is not at ground zero. It’s not a mosque but an Islamic cultural center containing a prayer room. It’s not going to determine President Obama’s political future or the elections of 2010 or 2012. Still, the battle that has broken out over this project in Lower Manhattan — on the “hallowed ground” of a shuttered Burlington Coat Factory store one block from the New York Dolls Gentlemen’s Club — will prove eventful all the same. And the consequences will be far more profound than any midterm election results or any of the grand debates now raging 24/7 over the parameters of tolerance, religious freedom, and the real estate gospel of location, location, location.
Here’s what’s been lost in all the screaming. The prime movers in the campaign against the “ground zero mosque” just happen to be among the last cheerleaders for America’s nine-year war in Afghanistan. The wrecking ball they’re wielding is not merely pounding Park51, as the project is known, but is demolishing America’s already frail support for that war, which is dedicated to nation-building in a nation whose most conspicuous asset besides opium is actual mosques.
19 August
Jon Stewart on the 9/11 Mosque
Raymond Ibrahim: Top Muslims Condemn Ground Zero Mosque as a ‘Zionist Conspiracy’
… should the mosque be built, it will be an Islamist triumph. However, at the rate things are going — this issue is set to be a hot topic for upcoming elections — time may well reveal that the victory of erecting a mega-mosque near Ground Zero was as much symbolic as it was pyrrhic, not just for Islamists, but their political supporters as well.
Cordoba House: What the Arab papers say
(The Economist) HAVING largely ignored the story in recent weeks, the Arab press has begun to take note of the controversy over plans for Cordoba House, an Islamic centre near ground zero in New York, after Barack Obama spoke out on the issue. The commentary thus far has mixed consternation that the project is meeting so much opposition with caution about how those behind it should proceed.
Many commentators noted with concern rising Islamophobia in America. Hossam Eitani, writing in Dar al-Hayat, a pan-Arab daily, places the current bout of anti-Islamic feeling in a wider context of intolerance of minorities being championed by the tea-party movement.
18 August
Robert Scheer on the anti-Muslim Demagogues
“Ground Zero for Tolerance” — The irrational attack on Muslims everywhere by the GOP’s leadership is not only deeply subversive with regard to the American ideal of religious tolerance but also poses a profound threat to our national security.
17 August
As the Debate Over “Ground Zero Mosque” Grows More Shrill, I Wonder: Isn’t This What the Terrorists Wanted?
A mosque within sight of the former World Trade Center site, especially if it is dedicated to peace, would be a pointed punch in the face to those who bet on Americans’ worst instincts.
Sure, job one was to kill Americans, and job two was to make us fear homeland violence the way an Israeli might worry about a rocket launched from the West Bank. But one of the goals Islamic extremists have always had is to turn moderate Muslims against the West; to show them that we cannot be trusted to treat them fairly or consider their freedoms.
And they have had no better partner in that awful dance than our own religious fundamentalists.
16 August
Obama attacked over NY mosque
Republicans have assailed Barack Obama over his response to plans for an Islamic centre close to the site of the September 11 2001 attacks in New York, after a weekend in which the White House sought to clarify the president’s stance on the issue
How the “ground zero mosque” fear mongering began
A viciously anti-Muslim blogger, the New York Post and the right-wing media machine: How it all went down
(Salon.com) A group of progressive Muslim-Americans plans to build an Islamic community center two and a half blocks from ground zero in lower Manhattan. They have had a mosque in the same neighborhood for many years. There’s another mosque two blocks away from the site. City officials support the project. Muslims have been praying at the Pentagon, the other building hit on Sept. 11, for many years.
In short, there is no good reason that the Cordoba House project should have been a major national news story, let alone controversy. And yet it has become just that, dominating the political conversation for weeks and prompting such a backlash that, according to a new poll, nearly 7 in 10 Americans now say they oppose the project. How did the Cordoba House become so toxic, so fast?
13 August
Obama Strongly Backs Islam Center Near 9/11 Site
President Obama delivered a strong defense on Friday night of a proposed Muslim community center and mosque near ground zero in Manhattan, using a White House dinner celebrating Ramadan to proclaim that “as a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country.”
Aides to Mr. Obama say privately that he has always felt strongly about the proposed community center and mosque, but the White House did not want to weigh in until local authorities made a decision on the proposal, planned for two blocks from the site of the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center.
Last week, New York City removed the final construction hurdle for the project, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg spoke forcefully in favor of it.
4 August
Raymond Ibrahim: Why the Ground Zero Mosque is Counterproductive to the Islamist Cause
While vexing to many, the mega mosque set to be built two blocks from Ground Zero has produced one interesting but unintended consequence: like the 9/11 strikes a decade before it, the “9/11 mosque” is also creating a stir, is making people think and talk — about Islam. Raymond Ibrahim is associate director of the Middle East Forum, author of The Al Qaeda Reader, and guest lecturer at the National Defense Intelligence College.

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