Lower Manhattan Mosque Controversy

August 19, 2010

By Padmini Arhant

Sometime back, the Lower Manhattan residents had approved the community center construction with a religious mosque in New York City.

Subsequently, the city granted permission for the project in accordance with the civil ordinance. The process would have clearly involved a thorough review of the construction site, the local convenience or the lack thereof and the majority consensus in this issue.

Reportedly, after much deliberation and survey the final decision was made favoring the community center project with the mosque, a worship place for the people of Islamic faith.

The community center with recreational facilities is meant for all within and outside the community including a peaceful gathering by the people to pray at the proposed mosque.

Although, it was a widely known public project with an overwhelming support from the people in the neighborhood and around until now, the mosque site is the contentious issue and currently turned into a sensitive debate.

The opposition to the project is based on the location and the proximity i.e. two blocks from Ground Zero suggesting that it adds “insult to injury.”

First and foremost, the 9/11 terror attack is and will always remain an insurmountable human tragedy with an estimated three thousand lives lost in the horrendous crime against humanity.

It also set precedence for a spate of similar attacks around the world.

The 9/11 victims were from New York City and many different parts of the world.

More appropriately the human lives without any distinction were compromised for the perpetrators’ self-fulfilling purpose deserving worldwide condemnation.

No eloquent consolation can replace the loss of precious lives. The pain and suffering still experienced by the victims’ families is natural and one could pray as well as hope for the healing to begin in helping the grieving families recover from the sadness surrounding their life.

Nonetheless, the extraordinary global reaction to the 9/11 victims was pervasive and people from all walks of life especially the followers of peaceful Islam i.e. the significant majority Muslim population across the globe were deeply disappointed and sincerely expressed their sorrow for the inhumane act against innocent civilians.

The outpouring humanitarian aid in the 9/11 aftermath included the good Samaritans of Islamic religion in an outreach to their fellow human beings and rebuilding the vibrant New York City.

That being the fact, the mosque in Islam is equivalent to the Church, Synagogue and Temples… a shrine where people come together seeking solace and peace for them and others.

Islam is not alienated in the worship by pious minds congregating to redeem themselves and those responsible for any harm to other human beings.

Therefore, the mosque is ideal since several worshippers’ prayers would absolve the attackers’ incarcerated negativities bringing the desirable harmony and serenity to the environment with a violent past.

The humanitarian service anticipated in the community center and the mosque would enhance the opportunity for a new beginning through forgiveness and charitable activities.

Such noble deeds will purify the site, inevitably contributing to the 9/11 souls’ eternal peace and the survivors well-being.

Further, the community center has job potential for the Lower Manhattan unemployed citizens adding to the economic benefit.

Perhaps, the 9/11 families’ solidarity and positive perspective could broaden the prospects for a stronger America undeterred against the destructive and divisive forces.

The opponents misinterpret the Mosque site as provocation and demand the permit withdrawal for the project.

Contrary to the claims, rejecting the mosque in Lower Manhattan is a willful surrender to the 9/11 masterminds determined to polarize the nation and mislead the political faction behind the controversy towards their school of thoughts.

The terror organizations have invariably indoctrinated other religions as irrelevant with a reference to the society as ‘infidels,’ and were never inhibited from exploiting religion for personal ideology.

Unfortunately, the leading proponents against the mosque are echoing the sentiments that are detrimental to the secular democratic society founded on solid constitution granting equal rights to all citizens of this great nation.

The evolving situation on the subject is counterproductive if not a major political distraction.

The U.S. Constitution, Islam religion and most importantly the 9/11 victims’ families i.e. the survivors are being used as political tools to propagate ideas that are not representative of the American democratic values.

President Barack Obama’s thoughtful statements in this context have been distorted for political reasons with midterm elections around the corner.

It’s not uncommon for politics to suffer from selective amnesia.

If the political opposition is truly concerned about the 9/11 survivors and their welfare, it’s time to exemplify them beginning with the passage of the –

“H.R. 847, James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act Rejected by House Vote.” Please refer to the AP article below.

Which, the majority Republican Congress rejected to protect the multinational corporations’ interest against the 9/11 workers and their families.

The devastated 9/11 workers were not surprised considering the Republican members’ record on the ‘Nay’ votes against every Democrat’s bill introduced to improve American lives.

President Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress have been consistently denied the majority Republican votes on all issues throughout Obama Presidency.

The mosque project is politicized to deflect public attention from the lack of Republican cooperation on legislations concerning the American electorate.

Republican minority performance predominantly focused on filibuster threats and voting against Democrats’ bills designed to promote average American lives and their future.

So the mosque issue is a convenient political fall back to gain momentum against the Democrat lawmakers dedicated to move the nation forward upon inheriting the bad economy, simultaneous wars with no strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan, tumbling financial sector, bankrupt auto industry…to list a few in the profile.

Ironically, the prominent opposition members / 2012 Republican Presidential hopefuls denigrating President Barack Obama and others on the mosque issue fail to recognize the fact,

The 9/11 would not be discussed today, had the previous administration proactively prevented the attacks upon several ominous warnings and memos on 9/11 attack in American soil that were ignored.

Pictures are worth a thousand words and they often reveal the sensitivity or the conspicuous absence.

President Barack Obama and the Democratic majority achievements thus far are phenomenal.

American people are tired of partisan politics and scapegoat tactics nearing election for they prefer to see result oriented actions.

While the Democrats have it, the Republican minority continues to conceal their poor record by using politics to win elections rather than extending bipartisanship to assist the President in all national issues.

Empathy towards 9/11 survivors are best displayed through legislations like the 9/11 health and compensation act, extending unemployment benefits or the economic stimulus bill creating jobs to enable them in providing for their living dependents.

United States is an egalitarian society and a model democracy with constitutional rights to practice religion in any part of the nation.

The status quo is a political and social infringement on the religious right guaranteed to all citizens in the U.S. constitution.

Islam is the religion of peace. The people of Islamic faith as the American citizens share equal rights and privileges regardless of the political view.

The mosque construction in Lower Manhattan will be symbolic of the United States’ religious tolerance and resolve against the terror networks.

Wishing long lasting peace between 9/11 survivors and their American Islamic neighbors in the culturally diverse, tolerant and exuberant New York City.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant

Source: Associated Press – July 29, 2010 – Thank you.

“H.R. 847, James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act Rejected by House Vote.”

“A bill that would have provided up to $7.4 billion in aid to people sickened by World Trade Center dust fell short in the House on Thursday, raising the possibility that the bulk of compensation for the ill will come from a legal settlement hammered out in the federal courts.

The bill would have provided free health care and compensation payments to 9/11 rescue and recovery workers who fell ill after working in the trade center ruins.

It failed to win the needed two-thirds majority, 255-159. The vote was largely along party lines, with 12 Republicans joining Democrats supporting the measure.

For weeks, a judge and teams of lawyers have been urging 10,000 former ground zero workers to sign on to a court-supervised settlement that would split $713 million among people who developed respiratory problems and other illnesses after inhaling trade center ash.

GOP critics branded the bill as yet another big-government “massive new entitlement program” that would have increased taxes and possibly kill jobs.

To pay the bill’s estimated $7.4 billion cost over 10 years, the legislation would have prevented foreign multinational corporations incorporated in tax haven countries from avoiding tax on income earned in the U.S.

Bill supporters said that would close a tax loophole. Republicans branded it a corporate tax increase.

John Feal, a ground zero demolition worker who has lobbied extensively for the legislation, expressed disgust.

“They pulled the rug out from beneath our feet,” Feal said. “Whatever member of Congress vote against this bill, whether Republican or Democrat, should go to jail for manslaughter.”

The bill would have provided up to $3.2 billion to cover the medical treatment of people sickened by trade center dust and an additional $4.2 billion for a new fund that would have compensated them for their suffering and lost wages.”


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