Controversy continues regarding a proposed mosque for a building site two blocks from New York’s Ground Zero. I’m in favor of this, I think: a positive, peaceful Muslim presence in this area might be a good thing. My only concern is the same as that voiced in the Reuters article: there is always a chance, no matter how small, that a mosque may end up providing a starting point for extremism, even if it starts out peacefully.
However, this argument can be made for any mosque in the U.S. (or the world, for that matter), and terrorists have shown that they don’t need to get their religious training within two blocks of their eventual target. We need to protest against extremist teaching in mosques, not the building of the mosques themselves.
One thing that irks me though, is the following comment from the Reuters story, that is often made as a defensive move by the religious:
“When someone claims to do something in the name of Islam and you don’t know much about Islam, it’s much easier to go, ‘Well, maybe it is because of Islam,'” said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for Council on American-Islamic Relations.
I’m sorry, but if someone tells me he kills in the name of his religion, I have no reason to doubt him. Perhaps Mr. Hooper is trying to say that no terrorist could ever make a coherent argument that Islam justifies violence, but what gives Mr. Hooper the authority to make this claim? Couldn’t he be the one interpreting Islam incorrectly? It’s the same with Christianity: one denomination is constantly pointing at another, saying that it is not “true” Christianity.
The fact remains that Islam is the most popular justification for terrorist acts in the world today, whether it be Mr. Hooper’s Islam or not. Hopefully the new mosque near Ground Zero will shift the balance toward the peaceful kind.