In some ways I am ambivalent about a Mosque being built near 911. As a person who grew up in New York and worked in 5 WTC for years and was in the World Trade Center and New York City, less than a week before 9/11 visiting friends and family. I am torn on this matter. I respect, honor, and would defend the freedoms of all Americans that include Americans that practice Islam as their religion. America is built upon a foundation of tolerance, acceptance, and freedom for all her children. This country has aspired to that grand goal for the past 230+ years and as we all know have had our failures as well as success. We still are intolerant, unaccepting, and in many ways we move to suppress the very thing that makes us who we are and what we are as a nation-freedom. On the flip side, there has been a mosque in the area for the past 15 years or so with a thriving contingent of adherents attending. If it was a matter of expanding the current space due to growth of the congregation, that would be a different matter. I believe what disturbs me about this issue is that it has created a division instead of reconciliation, and the intent of the person who has spearheaded the effort. In my opinion, if it is built it should be an interfaith cultural center with a Jewish temple space, Christian chapel space, and mosque in one building. It would be administered by an inter-faith council also. Each floor or two dedicated to the specific faith’s services and educational classes that would be open to all. This would take up about half of the 12 floor structure. The rest of the space would be common to all where we can peacefully interact and learn from each other. A place where we can hold dance classes, lectures, concerts, literary readings, art classes, and many more events in a shared space of equality, understanding, and peace. A place where we can peacefully celebrate with each other the gifts we all share; the gifts God, Yahweh, and Allah bestows upon all of us. No matter what name we call the divine creator by, we are all bestowed the grace and fruits of His blessing.
Maybe this concept of the building is just an egalitarian dream. Maybe you may think this fanciful, but isn’t this one of the lessons we should have learned on 9/11? Wouldn’t this be a way to honor our friends, our family, our sisters and brothers, our co-workers that we lost on that day?