A mosque in New York

Everyone will have heard of the plans that a mosque is to be built not too far from the place where the World Trade Center towers fell on 11 September 2001. Nor will the opposition in some quarters have gone unnoticed. Even our national madman, Geert Wilders, plans to protest the planned construction next month. You’d think he’d be too busy creating a coalition agreement he bears no responsibility for.

Anyway, back to the mosque (if only to keep the blood pressure down). I am, quite frankly, disappointed to see that Catholic websites, notably among them Rorate Caeli, join in the fear-mongering, painting a picture as if there is some holy war going on between Islam and Christianity. For the record, I am not a fan of Islam. I don’t agree with its tenets (I would have been a Muslim otherwise), and I think that it more easily leads to violence than most other faiths. But I will always support a Muslims right to express his belief and worship where he wants to (albeit not in Catholic churches, of course. Worship, but be sensible about it. Isn’t that one of the foundations of the Catholic faith>? I think so.

Photo showing the location of the proposed mosque relative to Ground Zero

Anyway, this mosque in New York, which won’t even be visible from Ground Zero, should be allowed out of the cherished freedom of religion that exists in the United States and most other civilised countries. And that freedom is not limited to Christianity, of course. It is thanks to this freedom, even though it is challenged more and more, that we Catholics can live our faith and worship in our own churches. To deny others the same right undermines the freedom we enjoy and renders it invalid. After all, freedom of religion is not a matter of faith or dogma. It is a legal measure, and as such not connected to any faith at all, and since it concerns all of society, that is where it belongs. Whether it is right or wrong can of course be discussed, like all legalities can, but as long as we make use of it and support it as Catholics, our protests when others want to exercise the same right have no basis in reality.

And as for the concerns that that mosque will tarnish the memories of those who died in 9/11? Rubbish. Any person capable of rational thought will realise that the terrorists acted out of terrorist motives. Perhaps their being Muslim made them more likely to be corrupted, but an unstable Christian runs the exact same risk. Look at the various crazy sects, founded on some misshapen form of Christianity, that exist.

6 thoughts on “A mosque in New York”

    1. Where criminals killed so many. Criminals who happened to be Muslims. What about building a church where a madman who happened to be a baptised Christian committed his crimes? Would you be opposed to that as well?

      Besides, the mosque won’t be at Ground Zero.

  1. Muslims have a right to build mosques in the USA (and, as far as I am concerned anywhere else in the world), I wouldn’t question that, but the real question is: should they build a mosque this close to Ground Zero? I think the answer is no, for various reasons. One reason is the sensibility this subject arouses among the victims and their relatives of the heinous crimes of 9/11. Another reason is the role of Islam. Let’s be frank: the perpetrators were Muslims, they were committing their crimes in the name of Islam, invoking Allah, so it is impossible to deny the role of Islam in all of this. I have not forgotten the images of streets filled with cheering Muslims in the aftermath of the attacks (I am sad to say I haven’t seen streets full of Muslims chanting “no, not in the name of my faith!”). Ground Zero has become a kind of shrine to many New Yorkers, even to a major part of the american people, in memory of the victims of the attacks (in many cases no remains have ever been found, to the distress of their relatives). Erecting a mosque at this particular site is both unwise and in bad taste, but if this Cordoba Initiative insists, let them do it and face the consequences. While I am at it: if they are really about promoting understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims, why don’t they advocate churches, synagogues etc. being built in Mecca and Medina?

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