Anger in the US as Islamic building is planned two blocks from Ground Zero

Posted: August 14, 2010 in Politics, World News
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

From local and national news to a global debate. When President Barack Obama defended the controversial plans to build a 13-story Islamic centre and mosque just two blocks from Ground Zero, the issue became worldwide news.

In defending the plans, President Obama has gone against public opinion and in an election year, that might cost his party votes in the midterms. But Obama is not one for pandering to the popular side of the argument if it doesn’t fit his own view, and to stand up and defend this issue is both brave and honourable.

The debate itself is mostly about the positioning of the centre, being so close to the site of the World Trade Centre attacks of September 11th 2001. Although it appears to be about positioning, the underlying reason for the opposal seems to be latent fear and hatred of Islam coming from the right-wing.

Fox News have been particularly critical of Obama, as you would expect from a predominantly Republican news site. But is the Islam Centre really as bad an idea as the critics are making out?

What follows is my own opinion on the affair, and whilst it may not be to your own tastes, don’t be hating on me!

I think the Islam centre idea is a very good one. People who are against it tend to believe that Islam is a bad religion, followed purely by terrorists and evil-doers. But that is wrong, and it’s wrong of people to ostracise a whole religion just because of the twisted views of a very small minority who happen to follow that religion. And when I say “follow”, I mean that in the broadest sense. The leaders of the terrorist cells often use twisted and bastardised versions of texts from the Qu’Ran to influence a certain subset of people.

The debate shows just how much people still see the area of the attacks as “sacred”. It is still referred to in press as Ground Zero, its now apparently official name. It symbolises the American desire to look backwards rather than forwards.

Obama’s support of the Islam Centre is absolutely correct. In my view, it shows that he wants to look forwards, to the future, one in which he sees Islam as having a vital part to play. Building this centre shows the world that America is intelligent enough to separate the vast majority of peaceful Muslims from the tiny minority of extremists. It shows the world that America does not blame the religion for creating the monsters who dreamed up the attacks. It shows the world that religion in all forms can co-exist peacefully and without malice.

Former Republican Rick Santorum has been quoted as saying that even though there is no legal obstacles in the way of the centre, the President should be following public will and persuading the planners of the centre to move it elsewhere. Get real. If building the centre’s not against the law, then surely any attempt to block it IS against the law.

People say it’s too close to Ground Zero. But how do you define what is too close and what isn’t? It typifies a very NIMBY attitude, “You can build it wherever you like, just not there.”

To me, it is the underlying hatred of Islam driving the opposition rather than the centre itself. Just because the perpetrators of the attacks were Muslim does not mean that the whole religion is evil. It’s just crass stereotyping and does no good to the reputations of those who continually push that stereotype.

The whole thing is another example of what the oxygen of publicity can do. It’s why right-wing media outlets will continue reporting on stories like this, and why middle-class right-wing citizens will always get up in arms about it.

Be brave, America. Embrace this centre rather than push it away. You might just be surprised at the good it can do.

  1. […] News Discontent blog has put up a really good piece on this subject that’s also worth checking […]

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