For those who are not familiar with the religion of Islam; a mosque is where believers and practitioners of the religion of Islam congregate to offer daily prayers, and on every Friday noon, listen to sermons from the pulpit. Traditionally, mosques were built on conquered lands as symbols of Islamic victories and signs of power as well as places to indoctrinate and convert the local populations.
I grew up in Istanbul, a historical city with many old mosques, churches and synagogues dotting her landscape and forming her beautiful skyline. Istanbul was the capital city of the Ottoman Empire for nearly five hundred years. Ottoman Sultan Mehmet conquered Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1453 when it was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium as it was known then. When Sultan Mehmet entered the city on May 29, 1453, one of the first things he set out to accomplish was to convert the Cathedral of Constantinople, Saint Sophia, into a mosque. The building served asa mosque from 1453 to 1934 when it was secularized and opened to the public as a museum on February 1 of the same year…
On September 11, 2001, America was attacked by Islamic terrorists supported by the Taliban of Afghanistan, and under the leadership of Osama Bin Laden of Al Qaida fame. Thousands of our citizens were murdered when two airplanes piloted by Islamic zealots crashed into the World Trade Centers and caused them to collapse resulting in a national catastrophe which will live in infamy. We all watched in horror as unknown numbers of radicals in the Islamic communities around the world celebrated the death of 3,000 of our fellow Americans; they cheered, applauded and danced in the streets.
Millions of Muslims around the world still mark that tragic moment as Islam’s great victory against the infidel; a giant first step in conquering the land of the devil; proof of the power of Islam over all other religions. Then why not celebrate and memorialize the moment by building a Mega Mosque near ground zero? they argue. Why not let the Islamic world continue to bask in the glory of this “great victory” against the home of the Great Satan? they say.
Can one imagine during a future visit to New York, going by ground zero to reflecton that horrible day in 2001, only to be confronted by this symbol of Islam’s victory over the ‘infidel” looming within plain view of the hollow ground?
Why, then, do some Americans see nothing wrong in allowing a Mega Mosque to be built within a few blocks of ground zero? Don’t they understand the implications of Muslims having a gathering place to celebrate their religion, so close to a location where thousands of our fellow Americans were murdered in the name of the very same religion? Don’t they want to know who is financing this project which will cost nearly 100 million dollars? Don’t they want to know why the Mayor of New York, as well as many “academicians”, are so keen on having a Mega Mosque built within earshot of Ground Zero?
What, I ask, is the difference between building a Mega Mosque anywhere near Ground Zero and building a memorial to Hitler and the Nazi regime on or around the sites of Belzec, Majdanek, Sobibor, Treblinka or Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps? Some usual-suspect politicians and academicians seem to naively believe what the backers of this Mega Mosque publicly announce in English for the benefit of the Americans; but they are oblivious to the completely opposite announcements made in Arabic by the same characters on Al-Jazeera TV orelsewhere in the Islamic world. It does not take too much effort to scan through hundreds of available radical Islamic websites on the internet to see and hear the true reasons behind the building of the Mega Mosque anywhere near Ground Zero.
America is a free country. One is free to practice one’s religion, without any intervention or interruption by the government or others, anywhere around this beautiful country of ours. This is a constitutionally protected right of all Americans. In fact, there are more than 1,300 mosques all around the USA serving around seven million Muslims living here, according to CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations). Islamic communities in America are free to build mosques anywhere in America where the local zoning laws and ordinances allow.
With that fact in the background, building a Mega Mosque (thirteen stories high) on Ground Zero may not only be unnecessary; but it may also be considered highly provocative. This mosque will not help bring Islamic communities in America any closer to the non-Islamic communities and may even have a totally negative effect on the on-going healing process. It is incumbent upon all reasonable people to reject this idea and move on…
Tarik Ayasun is currently a member of Marco Island’s Code Enforcement Board and has given many years of community service to various organizations.