There’s been a lot of commotion surrounding the proposed “Ground Zero Mosque.” An organization called the Cordoba Initiative wishes to build a mosque and community center on the site of a vacated building. Located six-hundred feet from Ground Zero, this building, according to the head of the Cordoba Initiative, would be about promoting “peace” and “understanding” among all religions. However, some family members of 9/11 victims feel this mosque would be an insult to the dead, since they were killed by radical Islamists. Before I render my final verdict, a listing of supporters and detractors must first be examined and judged.
- President Obama: During a White House dinner celebrating the Islamic holiday Ramadan, he expressed his support saying, “Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country.”
- NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg: The Mayor stated that building a mosque near Ground Zero shows the world that we are a tolerant and free society.
- CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations): Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper stated the controversy is created by “bigots.”
- Jon Stewart: Took to the airwaves to criticize those opposed to the mosque.
After examining the statements in support of the mosque, I have found some statements to be outrageous, including those of CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper. However, President Obama does make a good point about religious freedom.
- Conservatives: Generally speaking, conservatives have questions regarding the funding of the building and the true intentions of the Cordoba Initiative. The head of Cordoba, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, has made questionable statements in the past. After 9/11, he said the U.S. was “an accessory to the crime.”
- 9/11 Families: A group called 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America has called the proposed mosque “a gross insult to the memory of those who were killed on that terrible day.”
- The Majority of Americans, New Yorkers, etc.: Polls show that a majority of Americans and New Yorkers are against the proposed mosque.
The detractors have some very legitimate questions regarding the funding and true intentions of the mosque. If the Imam in charge, Feisal Abdul Rauf, cares so much about spreading peace and understanding, then why reopen wounds that haven’t fully healed? His actions have clearly had the opposite effect.
After thinking this issue over, I have come to my conclusion that the best scenario would be to build the mosque/community center, just farther away from ground zero. There are offers extended to Cordoba to build on other land, and that should satisfy those who see the proposal as a slap in the face. Some arguments against the mosque have been ridiculous, including Newt Gingrich using a Nazi analogy. But some supporters of the mosque have gone off the deep end as well, accusing opponents of Islamophobia. Clearly, as a country, we should value religious freedom. However, those wishing to exercise that freedom need to consider the consequences of their actions, especially when dealing with acts of war on America (9/11 was an act of war, after all). Muslims have historically built mosques on places of great victories, like the mosque that was built over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Even if we in America see the building of the mosque as an act of religious freedom, how would Hamas and other terrorist groups interpret it? Well, Hamas has come out in support of building the mosque seeing it as a victory for Islam in the war against the West. It should be pointed out the Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf refuses to call Hamas a terrorist group, despite evidence of terrorist acts, including:
- August 28, 2005: A suicide bombing outside the Central Bus Station in Beersheba severly injured two security guards who stopped the bomber from entering the bus station.
- January 13, 2005: Six Israelis were killed and five other civilians were wounded in a double suicide bombing at the Karni crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip. The two suicide bombers used a very large explosive device to blast through a defensive wall that separates the Israeli and Palestinian sides at the crossing. Following the blast, the bombers crossed into the Israeli side, carrying explosives on their bodies, which they detonated.
- August 28, 2004: Sixteen people, including a 3 year old, were killed and about 100 injured when two buses in Beersheba were attacked within minutes of each other by suicide bombers.
- June 28, 2004: A Kassam rocket fired by Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip struck near a nursery school in the northern Negev town of Sderot, killing an Israeli man and a 4-year old Israeli child.
- April 17, 2004: A border policeman was killed and three others wounded when a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up at the Erez Crossing in Gaza.
- March 14, 2004: Ten people were killed and 16 wounded in a double suicide bombing in the area of the Ashdod Port. Hamas and Fatah claimed responsibility for the attack.
- January 14, 2004: A female suicide bomber killed four people and wounded 20 at the Erez Crossing in the Gaza Strip. Hamas and the Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack.
- October 15, 2003: Three Americans were killed and one wounded at the Beit Hanoun junction in the Gaza Strip when a massive bomb demolished an armor-plated jeep in a convoy carrying U.S. diplomats and CIA personnel. Both the militant Islamic Jihad and Hamas movements denied responsibility for the attack.
- September 9, 2003: Hamas claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings, the first at an entrance to the Tzrifin army base near Rishon Lezion and the second at Café Hillel in the German colony neighborhood of Jerusalem, which killed a total of 15 people and wounded at least 80.
- August 19, 2003: Hamas and Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing of a bus in Jerusalem killing at least 18 people and wounding nearly 100.
- August 12, 2003: Suicide bombers killed two Israelis and wounded more than a dozen people in two attacks within a half hour of each other, one at a shopping mall in the Tel Aviv suburb of Rosh Ha’ayin and the other at the entrance of the West Bank town of Ariel. The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed responsibility for the Rosh Ha’ayin bombing and Hamas claimed to have carried out the Ariel attack.
- June 20, 2003: An Israeli motorist was shot dead and three of his passengers were wounded when their car was fired upon by Palestinian terrorists near Ofra, north of Ramallah. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.
- June 11, 2003: Sixteen people were killed and more than 80 wounded when a suicide bomber blew up a Jerusalem city bus during the afternoon rush hour. The bomber was disguised as an ultra-orthodox Jew. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.
- May 19, 2003: A Palestinian suicide bomber on a bicycle attacked an Israeli checkpoint on the Gaza Strip, wounding three Israeli soldiers. Hamas claimed responsibility.
- May 18, 2003: Seven people were killed and more than 20 wounded when a suicide bomber blew up a Jerusalem city bus at the start of the Israeli work week. The bomber was disguised as an ultra-orthodox Jew. Soon after, a suicide bomber carrying explosives and dressed in the garb of an ultra-orthodox Jew was stopped at a roadblock. The Palestinian detonated his explosives, killing only himself. Hamas claimed responsibility in both attacks.
- May 17, 2003: A pregnant Israeli woman and her husband were killed when a suicide bomber detonated himself next to them in a public square in Hebron. Hamas claimed responsibility.
- April 30, 2003: Three people were killed and dozens wounded in a suicide bombing at a beachfront pub in Tel Aviv. The Fatah Tanzim and Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack, carried out as a joint operation.
- March 7, 2003: Two Israelis were killed and five were wounded when armed terrorists infiltrated the community of Kiryat Arba and attacked during Shabbat. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.
- March 5, 2003: Sixteen people were killed and more than 30 wounded when a terrorist detonated a powerful bomb on a bus en route to Haifa University. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.
- January 5, 2003: Twenty two people were killed and about 120 wounded in a double suicide bombing near the old Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv. The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Islamic Jihad and Hamas all claimed responsibility for the attacks.
- November 21, 2002: Eleven people were killed and 47 injured when a Palestinian suicide bomber exploded on a bus filled with passengers, including schoolchildren, in the Kiryat Menahem neighborhood in Jerusalem. The bus was traveling toward the center of the city during the morning rush hour. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.
- October 27, 2002: Two Israeli police officers and a soldier were killed, and 20 bystanders were wounded in a suicide bombing at a gas station near the settlement of Ariel in the West Bank. The two officers and soldier were killed while trying to prevent the terrorist from detonating the bomb. Hamas and the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack.
- September 19, 2002: Six people were killed and 60 wounded when a terrorist detonated a bomb on one of Tel Aviv’s busiest streets, in a bus opposite the Great Synagogue. Many of the wounded were in critical or serious condition. Both Islamic Jihad and Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.
- August 4, 2002: Nine people were killed and about 50 wounded in a suicide bombing of an Egged bus at the Meron junction in northern Israel. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.
- July 3, 2002: Eight people were killed and 86 injured, 14 seriously, when a bomb went off at the Frank Sinatra Cafeteria on the Hebrew University Mt. Scopus campus during the busy lunchtime rush. Israeli authorities reported that the explosive device had been planted ahead of time, with the terrorist possibly detonating it by remote control. Five Americans were among the dead. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.
- June 18, 2002: Nineteen people were killed and more than 70 were injured, in a suicide bombing on a bus just outside of Jerusalem. The bus, which was completely destroyed, was traveling from Gilo to Jerusalem and had many students on board. In addition to the bus, at least two other vehicles were severely damaged in the attack. Hamas claimed responsibility.
- June 8, 2002: Three Israelis, including a pregnant woman, were killed, and five were injured when an armed terrorist inflitrated the community of Carmei Tzur, south of Jerusalem. Hamas claimed responsiblity for the attack.
- May 19, 2002: Three Israelis were killed and more than 50 injured in a suicide bombing at an open-air market in Netanya. A Palestinian disguised as an Israeli soldier carried out the attack. Both Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility. Two of the victims were identified as Yosef Haviv, 70 and Arkadi Wiselman, 40, both of Netanya. Wiselman, a chef at the Park Hotel, survived the Passover bombing on March 27.
- April 27, 2002: Three Palestinian gunmen disguised as Israeli Army soldiers cut through the perimeter fence of Adora, a settlement on the West Bank, and entered several homes, firing on residents in their bedrooms. Four people, including a 5-year-old girl, were killed in the attacks. Another seven were injured, including one seriously. Both Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility.
- March 31, 2002: Fourteen people were killed and more than 40 injured in a suicide bombing in Haifa, in the Matza gas station restaurant near a shopping mall. Several of the injured were in serious to critical condition. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.
- March 27, 2002: Twenty-two people were killed and 140 injured – 20 seriously – in a suicide bombing at the Park Hotel in the coastal city of Netanya, in the midst of the Passover holiday seder with 250 guests. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.
- March 19, 2002: 1st Lt. Tal Zemach, 20, of Kibbutz Hulda, was killed and three soldiers were injured when Palestinian terrorists opened fire at the paratroop training compound in the Jordan Valley. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.
- March 9, 2002: Eleven people were killed and 54 injured, 10 of them seriously, when a suicide bomber exploded at in a crowded cafe at the corner of Aza and Ben-Maimon streets in the Rehavia neighborhood in the center of Jerusalem. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.
- March 7, 2002: Aharon Krogliak of Beit El, Tal Kurtzweil of Bnei Brak, Asher Marcus of Jerusalem, Eran Pikar of Jerusalem, and Ariel Zana of Jerusalem, all aged 18, were killed and 23 people were injured, four seriously, when a Palestinian gunman penetrated a highschool that combines religious studies and military training in the Gush Katif settlement of Atzmona late Thursday night. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.
- March 5, 2002: Palestinians fired two Kassam II rockets at the city of Sderot shortly before 18:00 PM on Tuesday. One of the rockets hit a residential building, moderately wounding a 16-month-old infant. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.
- February 10, 2002: A drive-by terrorist shooting at the entrance to the IDF Southern Command base in Be’er Sheva killed two female soldiers and injured four others. One of the Palestinian terrorists was killed at the scene; the second, wearing an explosives belt, fled in the direction of a nearby school when he was shot and killed by a soldier and police officer. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.
- December 2, 2001: A suicide bombing on a No. 16 Egged bus in Haifa killed 15 people and injured about 40 people. Hamas claimed responsibility for the Haifa blast, while Hizbullah’s radio and television stations expressed support for the attacks.
- December 1, 2001: A double suicide bombing at the Ben-Yehuda pedestrian mall in Jerusalem at 11:30 p.m. on a Saturday night killed 11 people, aged 12-21, and injured 188 people. A car bomb exploded 20 minutes later. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.
(information courtesy of Anti-Defamation League)
As you can see, Hamas is clearly a terrorist organization.
Some have stated that a mosque should not be built near Ground Zero until a Christian Church or Jewish Temple is built near Mecca. However, as Josh Barro points out, writing for National Review Online, those saying such are “making the bizarre case that our level of religious liberty is fine so long as it is no worse than in Saudi Arabia.”
Despite some unsavory elements to the story, the mosque must be allowed to move forward. We are a nation of religious freedom. Having freedom means that sometimes people do things we don’t agree with, but they have the freedom to do so regardless of how we feel. Opponents of the Mosque have tried to use government bureaucracy to prevent the building of the mosque. Yet many of these same people abhor it when government bureaucracy interferes with their own lives. They decry Cordoba Initiative’s use of property, yet detest when private property rights are trampled on (in cases of eminent domain abuse, for example).
We have higher standards than to stop the building of a house of worship. Let’s trust but verify. Iman Feisal Abdul Rauf must prove to us all that he has the best of intentions. He must also show us where the $100 million to build the project is coming from (probably a lot is from foreign governments). Truthfully, the building of the mosque should be a local issue, not a national one. The fact that this issue has exploded onto the national scene proves that we as a society have not fully recovered from 9/11. Personally, I’d like to know why it’s taking so damn long to build the Freedom Tower. Although I largely agree with the arguments of those against the building of the mosque, it must move forward. I believe too strongly in the first amendment to state otherwise.