Friday, August 13, 2010

A Mosque at Ground Zero?

A new controversy is currently hotly debated in the press: to build or not to build a mosque at ground zero? I see two arguments, one against and one in favor. The argument against building such a mosque is that it may hurt the feelings of those who lost family, friends or loved ones in the 9/11 bombing. In fact, this seems a very strong argument because irrespective how we feel about the issue, these people will want to visit the site where their loved ones died and that experience can be severely affected by a clearly visible mosque. However, I am not sure the majority of the surviving dependents actually will be offended by a mosque. At the very least their opinion should be polled. And by the way, I am sure many moslims also died in the 9/11 attacks and wouldn't they need a place to mourn their loved ones?

Now the argument in favor. I believe the most appropriate monument we can build that expresses the tolerance of our western society towards other cultures and minorities, and expresses how much we value our constitutional rights (aka liberty of speech, liberty of religion etc.), is to precisely build a mosque at ground zero. It expresses the fact that we do not stigmatize a very large group of well willing citizens and accuse them of the crimes committed by a very small group of terrorists. It expresses the fact that we have learned from history and will not make the same mistakes again (and again). So, please let's build that islamic center at ground zero and use it to create mutual understanding and eradicate the hate that led to 9/11. Let's not think with our gut but with our head for a change.