A common argument against the building of Cordoba House by opponents often involves some form of the question: why does it have to be built so close to Ground Zero? It is easy to sympathize and agree with the many people who are still reeling from 9/11, but the opposition to Cordoba House is part of an increasingly hostile atmosphere against Muslims in this country, so is there a way to meet the needs of both groups?

Coinciding with the debate over Cordoba House is an upswing in anti-Muslim sentiment throughout the U.S. From the vandalism of a mosque construction site in Tennessee, to the stabbing of a Muslim cab driver in New York, to the Dove World Outreach Center’s now canceled plan to burn 1,000 Qurans in Florida, the U.S. is experiencing a wave of anti-Muslim demonstrations. State of Belief host and Interfaith Alliance President Rev.  Dr. C. Welton Gaddy had a meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder and religious leaders of many faiths on September 7th to discuss this rise in attacks against Muslims. They asked the Attorney General to take action in speaking out against these attacks and provide protection for Muslims in the U.S.

This anti-Muslim sentiment makes institutions such as the Cordoba House an important solution to consider. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, in a recent op-ed, emphasizes the multifaith commitment of the project.  He writes:

“At Cordoba House, we envision shared space for community activities, like a swimming pool, classrooms and a play space for children. There will be separate prayer spaces for Muslims, Christians, Jews and men and women of other faiths. The center will also include a multifaith memorial dedicated to victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.”

Can Cordoba House be a place to both heal from the attacks of 9/11 and a place to work against the growing anti-Muslim atmosphere, creating a better environment for the nation?

Written by Ms. Lynn Abe.  Lynn is a recent graduate from Carleton College in Minnesota. She has a BA in religion with a concentration in Educational Studies. Lynn is interning at Interfaith Alliance fall 2010.

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  • Kay Uno Kaneko

    Having been a victim of the WWII evacuation of all Americans of Japanese ancestry and the bigotry of those “Americans” who wanted us out of the West coast states and still find “white Americans” treating me as if I was not here or of little interest so that they can barge in ahead of me in line for service at a store or any where we are waiting for service. This is not often but it still happens. Our being put in concentration camps was because there was race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of POLITICAL LEADERSHIP. I am glad to see that there is leadership that is trying to prevent religious prejudice and war hysteria. Thank you.

    If the Pentagon in Washington DC can allow Muslims to worship and pray in a building that was damaged by the plane that crashed into it on the same day that the New York tower was flown into then having the center the Muslims want to build 2 blocks from ground zero should be allowed. I understand it will have areas of recreation and swimming for all people besides the area for their prayer and worship. I saw on TV the plans for the building and it seemed a good plan.

    I am so glad to see you taking a leadership role in practicing freedom of religion.

  • Muhsin Aldairy

    I’m no terrorist!

    With that said; I think the Islamic community is being too passive about the opposition of the building of a mosque so close to ground zero. This might come off as harsh or brass, but as an American born Muslim living my whole life in New York City, I it feel irate that people who have least to do with the inner workings of a city they do not live or participate in have the LOUDEST voices about the project. WE ALL lost during the 9/11 attacks, not just non-Muslims. More so, New Yorkers lost the most. So when right wing groups that are located far from NYC start to protest; I think it’s nothing but hogwash, especially since the mayor, President and neighborhood committee agreed on the building.

    The Muslims should be more firm with the building whatsoever the opposition. If people resort to violence; have the NYPD arrest them and let NYC prosecute them. It’s the only way.

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