The Controversy of The Planned Islamic Center Near Ground Zero

The planned Islamic Center near Ground Zero is a disgrace, and a slap in the face to all those who died in the World Trade Centers. For the owners not to see that is also a disgrace.

Naturally those at Salon.com see those opposed as participating in “bigotry,” because that is the go to smear to use in cases like this. Mayor Bloomberg defended the building of the Islamic Center by saying it is private property, and the people have a right use the building as they wish. True. Very true. That is why the owners themselves should decline to use it as such.

The WSJ has an excellent piece describing a similar problem that happened back in the 80’s. The owners of the Islamic center could learn a lesson from how Pope John Paul handled the problem then.

In the 1980s, Carmelite nuns moved into an abandoned building on the edge of the former Nazi death camp to pray for the souls taken there. As with the dispute over the mosque near Ground Zero, the convent’s presence escalated into a clash not only between different faiths but between competing historical narratives. As with today’s clash too, it seemed intractable until the Polish pope stepped in.

The Nuns were sincere, but it was still offensive to the Jews. When Pope John Paul saw the rift it was creating, he asked the Nuns to move. They didn’t have to. The town would never have forced them to. But the Pope knew that it would only inflame passions, anger, and leave a deep hurt among Jews.

The owners of the Center have a legal right to be there. But they also have the right to respect the feelings of the families of the victims of 9-11, and others who are offended by it.

The owners claim that they want to “amplify the voices of the moderate Muslims.” But that isn’t what it will do. No one will be able to hear the voices if they are drowned out by disrespect. It’s clear that this will not bring unity. It will only create an atmosphere of resentment.

The Islamic Center should not be built near Ground Zero, but it must be the owner’s decision to do the right thing.

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