I am torn about the Muslim Cultural Center planned for 2 !/2 blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks in Manhattan. I don’t know many Muslim people, only Salman Rushdie who is not a typical Muslim, and who has, I believe, quite a light approach to Islam. He has, in other words, a sense of humor that helps the world connect with Islam.
I have read our Constitution and I know it guarantees freedom of religion. Obviously Muslims have the right to worship as Muslims in America. But why at that particular location in Manhattan? Did they anticipate the hullabaloo this would cause? There are apparently several viewpoints in this debate.
1. Is this a victory dance? I think we have heard that this is not so.
2. Is this an attempt to reach out to Americans of other faiths?
3. Is this just about real estate?
4. Why, now that they see how unhappy other New Yorkers are, can’t they show some sensitivity and look for a new location?
5. If they look for another location will they lose an opportunity to improve understanding and compassion between Muslims and other New Yorkers?
6. Does freedom of religion guarantee the right to locate your religious buildings anywhere you wish in America?
7. Why does the media seem to enjoy finding the worst possible interpretation of whatever Obama says and then really enjoy discussing ad infinitum how this will affect other Democrats?
8. If we want to promote greater understanding between Muslims and other Americans this move does not seem designed to bring about this result. It’s not a school, it’s a mosque. It’s not a multicultural center if only Muslims will be served.
9, Freedom of religion is one of the most basic rights of all Americans. If Muslim New Yorkers will not change their location in spite of the hurt and anger they are hearing from all sides, will it violate the Constitution to force them to choose a different property, and how much will it set back any cross cultural acceptance among religious groups?