WSJ Op-Ed: Ground Zero Mosque Hurts Interfaith Understanding

Tuesday, 03 Aug 2010 12:37 PM

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Building a mosque and Muslim community center at ground zero in New York City will undercut interfaith understanding, rather than build it up, as proponents contend, Dan Senor suggests in an Op-Ed piece in today’s Wall Street Journal.

Senor, who lives in lower Manhattan and is an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, notes that Mayor Michael Bloomberg and state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo contend that the mosque and the Cordoba House wouldn’t be security risks and that the controversy is just a matter of religious expression.

However, Senor writes, “there is an additional message that politicians and business leaders could convey to Cordoba House planner Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf that does not contradict their argument about freedom of religious expression and private property.”

Senor then pens an open letter to Imam Feisal that he suggests the majority of New Yorkers would accept. The letter endorses the right to build a mosque and community center and questions only the location, so close to the site of the Sept. 11 attacks.

In part, the letter says: “Those attacks, as you well know, were committed in the name of Islam. We applaud and thank every Muslim throughout the world who has rejected and denounced this association. But the fact remains that in the minds of many who are swayed by the most radical interpretations of Islam, the Cordoba House will not be seen as a center for peace and reconciliation. It will rather be celebrated as a Muslim monument erected on the site of a great Muslim ‘military’ victory — a milestone on the path to the further spread of Islam throughout the world.”

Although most Americans reject the link between Muslims and the terroristic acts of radical Muslims, Senor writes, “many believe that Ground Zero should be reserved for memorials to the event itself and to its victims. They do not understand why of all possible locations in the city, Cordoba House must be sited so near to there.”

“Many New Yorkers and Americans will conclude that the radical interpretation of Cordoba House's purpose is correct. That belief will undermine what you have articulated to be Cordoba House's core mission. Rather than furthering cross-cultural and interfaith understanding, a Cordoba House located near Ground Zero would undermine them. Rather that serving as a bridge between Muslim and non-Muslim peoples, it would function as a divide.”

Another site, closer to residential neighborhoods, would serve Muslims and the city better, writes Senor, who was a senior adviser to the Coalition in Iraq and was based in Baghdad in 2003 and 2004.

For the full text of Senor’s Op-Ed piece in The Wall Street Journal — Go Here Now.

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