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Rendering Little Details of Mosque Planners’ Designs

August 13, 2010

As was to be expected, the debate over the Ground Zero mosque has anything but grown. 68% of Americans oppose the construction, as do 53% of New Yorkers, according to polls. Only 29% and 34% are in favour of it respectively. The majority who doesn’t want to see the Cordoba mosque erected on a spot that was witness to the 9/11 atrocity has been derided by public figures for their views. One argument the proponents of the mosque make is that conservatives are hypocrites for wanting a privately funded project to be prevented on flimsy emotional grounds, while usually demanding private businesses to be left alone and property rights to be upheld.

Of course, America is a free country and the mosque can be built because there is no law prohibiting it. But that doesn’t mean that your opposing the plans for the building make you a critic of the rule of law. Rather consider that the alleged desire of the people behind the Cordoba project is to peacefully connect Muslims with non-Muslim Americans. But this cannot be their genuine intention.

First, building a mega mosque around the corner of Ground Zero doesn’t exactly strike me as being the best means to further that goal. Why didn’t they offer to finance a genuinely inclusive community building, like a coffee shop? Or why not a memorial in honour of those killed on 9/11?

But at least since it became obvious that public opinion is against the Ground Zero location, persons who really aim for a strengthening of relationship between Muslims and non-Muslim Americans wouldn’t show an unwillingness to move the project to a less sensitive location. Even before its construction, the planners of the Cordoba mosque are happy to give offence.

And all those considerations don’t even touch the fact that Feisal Abdul Rauf, the main figure behind the Cordoba project, has worrisome ties to groups clearly more in sympathy with the perpetrators of 9/11 than with its victims — if the same can’t be said even of Rauf himself, whose comments on the attacks are highly nuanced indeed.

But according to mayor Bloomberg we ought to be ashamed of ourselves for even asking for clarification on what kind of organisations are financing the project — because the wish to verify that pro-terrorist groups aren’t gaining influence on American soil must spring from a rotten character.

NPR, meanwhile, is taking a more subtle approach in expressing their opinion. In a piece called “Rendering Shows Little Detail of Mosque’s Design”, Steve Inskeep interviews architect Rick Bell who speculates on how the building might look like, without knowing it at all. While so doing, Bell, who is a backer of the Cordoba project, surmises as follows:

Strictly speaking, a room where people worship can be called a mosque, but it’s not a building, as I understand it, that will look like a preconception of a mosque.

[Translation: It’s not a mosque, it’s “a mosque”. And it’s really more like a place to worship — only for Muslims, but still. It’s really about freedom of religion– only for Muslims.]

A little later:

You know, I think it’s altogether to be expected that any building that talks to a spiritual dialogue is going to have a facade, is going to have windows and doorways that talk about invitation, that talk about transparency and connectivity. If those are words that imply, then, architectural form, the symbolism of the building’s facade is going to be, I think, one of acceptance, you know, and tolerance.

[Translation: You’re feeling warm and fuzzy inside, you feel that you love the Cordoba project, you want the mosque to be built! It will be all light and warm and transparent and inviting and connecting and tolerating… !]

Towards the end:

People see what they want to see. And there will be people who will stop at this building after it’s done and say, you see, I told you so. Look how different and alienating this is. So different from our experience, how different from my synagogue, how different from my church, ho different from the place I work or the place I live. That won’t be bad. You know, it’ll cause people to maybe think about why it’s different and in what ways it might also be similar.

[Translation: Those bigoted Christians and Jews are haters and of course they won’t like it, no matter what. They’re opposed to everything that’s different. But if we keep pounding then eventually they will learn to like it or shut up.]

Religion clearly isn’t the issue here. This has a lot more to do with common sense and decency. Let me quote a commentary by Raheel Raza and Tarek Fatah who don’t only see the problem with this particular plan for a mosque, but with liberals’ worldview in general:

Let’s not forget that a mosque is an exclusive place of worship for Muslims and not an inviting community centre. Most Americans are wary of mosques due to the hard core rhetoric that is used in pulpits. And rightly so. As Muslims we are dismayed that our co-religionists have such little consideration for their fellow citizens and wish to rub salt in their wounds and pretend they are applying a balm to sooth the pain.

[…]As for those teary-eyed, bleeding-heart liberals such as New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and much of the media, who are blind to the Islamist agenda in North America, we understand their goodwill.

Unfortunately for us, their stand is based on ignorance and guilt, and they will never in their lives have to face the tyranny of Islamism that targets, kills and maims Muslims worldwide, and is using liberalism itself to destroy liberal secular democratic societies from within.

As liberals refuse to draw the battle lines against terrorism they’re helping the enemy.

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