Monday, August 16, 2010

President Obama defends the building of the Ground Zero mosque

Among his comments on the occasion of this year's Presidential iftar, President Obama said: "This is America. Our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable." Watch the video in commemoration of Ramadan.


Blogger Patrick S. O'Donnell said...


"Ground Zero mosque" should be in quotes, if only because it's more than a mosque and not at Ground Zero. As Matt Sledge wrote at The Huffington Post,
"The 'Ground Zero Mosque' that we have been and will be hearing so much about is not exactly a mosque, nor is it at Ground Zero. Here's why: you can't see Ground Zero--the former site of the World Trade Center--from the future site of the Cordoba House. From 45 Park Place, the former Burlington Coat Factory building that will make way for the Cordoba House, it's two blocks, around a corner, to get to the WTC site. Park Place doesn't lie between the construction site and any mass transit stations, so you would need to go out of your way to have it offend you. Why is the distance between the two sites so important? Simple accuracy, for one. It's frustrating to see so many commentators blithely disregard an obvious, physical problem with the 'mosque at Ground Zero' formulation: it's not at Ground Zero.

Clyde Haberman of the New York Times further explains the significance:

There's that 'at.' For a two-letter word, it packs quite a wallop. It has been tossed around in a manner both cavalier and disingenuous, with an intention by some to inflame passions. Nobody, regardless of political leanings, would tolerate a mosque at ground zero. 'Near' is not the same, as anyone who paid attention back in the fourth grade should know. [....]

In addition, the building planned for 45 Park Place is a cultural center with a prayer room -- not a single-purpose house of worship for Muslims, which is probably what we should reserve the word 'mosque' for. As Haberman also explains, 'That it may even be called a mosque is debatable. It is designed as a multi-use complex with a space set aside for prayer -- no minarets, no muezzin calls to prayer blaring onto Park Place.'

The 92nd Street Y, on which the Cordoba House is explicitly modeled, has a whole host of Jewish events take place inside of it, but no one calls it a synagogue. There's no good reason why Cordoba House should be misleadingly called a 'mosque.' I've been guilty of using this word too, in conversation and in writing, but it's inaccurate. Muslims already read the Quran and pray at 45 Park Place, but that does not and will not turn it into a 'mosque.'

There's one more catch for the opponents of the so-called Ground Zero mosque: by the same logical leap you can call the Cordoba Center a 'mosque,' you can also call Ground Zero as it already exists a giant, open-air mosque. Muslim prayers are already taking place right on the edge of the construction site, and not for world domination. Families are going there to pray -- for the souls of the dozens of innocent Muslim victims who died on September 11."

The Codorba House/Park51 will be a multi-faith community cultural center and mosque. See here for the specifics:

The Ameican Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA) is the organization primarily responsible for this project:

Best wishes,

8/21/2010 4:47 PM  
Blogger Jim Chen said...

Thanks, Patrick. As always, you are better informed and more persuasive.

8/21/2010 9:33 PM  

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