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Obviously by now, much ink has already been spilled over the whole controversy about the so-called Ground Zero Mosque. But perhaps someone out there might benefit from a round-up of some of the articles and a summary of some talking points.
1. First, it isn't at Ground Zero. The proposed location is several blocks away in what used to be a Burlington Coat factory. You can't see it from Ground Zero and Ground Zero can't be seen from the proposed location.
2. It isn't a mosque. It is a cultural center. The plans include a swimming pool, a basketball court, an auditorium, a performing arts center, a fitness center, a bookstore, a food court and even a culinary school, along with space to pray.
3. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf isn't a radical. He is an mainstream Muslim with an extensive amount of experience in interfaith activities and has written several books on the compatibility of Islam and the West in a pluralistic democratic context.
4. If Ground Zero is to be considered "hallowed ground" what's up with the two strip clubs within three blocks of the site?
5. If this is really about respect for 9/11 victims what about the national opposition to all the other mosques in the US?
6. There already is mosque in the area which operates without causing a problem.
7. That part of the city has had historical Muslim-American presence even before the Towers went up.
One of the first Arab-American enclaves in New York City was located on Washington St. in lower Manhattan - the very area in which the World Trade Center was later built. Founded by Arabic-speaking Christians and Muslims from Ottoman Syria in the 1880s, it was called Little Syria.
The African Burial Ground, discovered in 1991, is six blocks away from the proposed Muslim community center. Scholars continue to debate the religious identity of the hundreds buried there, but the fact that some of the dead wore shrouds and were interred with strings of blue beads, frequently used as Islamic talismans, suggests Muslim were among the enslaved people who helped build Manhattan into a bustling city.
8. I'm sure that some of the outrage is heartfelt and sincere. But a large portion of it is artificial and stoked by Pamela Geller. The local NYC Community Board voted overwhelmingly to support the project.
Details on the Above:
HuffPost: "Ground Zero" Mosque: AP Fact Check
HuffPost: Park 51: The Ground Zero Mosque Is Not a Mosque
Daily Beast: My Meetings With the Man Behind the Mosque
NYT: For Imam in Muslim Center Furor, a Hard Balancing Act
NYT: Vote Endorses Muslim Center Near Ground Zero
NY Daily Post: Islam has long history downtown: Why the 'Ground Zero mosque' belongs in lower Manhattan
WSJ: For Strippers Near Ground Zero, It’s Business as Usual Amid Mosque Uproar
HuffPost: Just How Far Is the "Ground Zero Mosque" From Ground Zero?
HuffPost: Quietly, Another Mosque Operates In Shadow Of Ground Zero
HuffPost: Pamela Geller, 'Queen Of Muslim Bashers,' At Center Of N.Y. 'Mosque' Debate
More General Thoughts:
Daily Beast: The Mosque Litmus Test
HuffPost: Ground Zero Mosque: American Intolerance on Full Display for Muslim World
Juan Cole: Palin on the Ground Zero Mosque vs. the Founding Fathers
Wikipedia: Park 51
Wikipedia: Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf
Park 51 Website