'Park51' mosque proves religious tolerance

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By Andrew Revord
News Editor
It shouldn’t have made this much news, but it has. A planned Islamic mosque/community center in Lower Manhattan has sparked a debate due to its location: just two blocks from Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center fell on Sept. 11.
The building was originally dubbed the “Cordoba House” but is now called “Park51.” The project’s original namesake, the Spanish city of Cordoba, was the capital of the Muslim caliphate in Spain.
Supporters of the community center point out that Cordoba was a city where religious tolerance between Christians, Jews, and Muslims existed. However, the name upsets opponents, who view Cordoba a symbol of Muslim conquest in foreign lands.
I’ll admit that, like 68 percent of Americans in a recent CNN poll, I opposed the building of the center so close to the site where nearly 3,000 Americans lost their lives in an Islamic terror attack.
Though the Sept. 11 hijackers don’t come close to representing Islam as a whole, they were Muslim nonetheless.
If Christians put up a church near some famous site of the Spanish Inquisition, it would be reasonable for people to be upset, even if these Christians had nothing to do with the Inquisition.
However, I now reluctantly support the building of the mosque not because I am completely comfortable with it being built there, and certainly not because I love political correctness, but because I am even less comfortable about what could happen if we prevented the mosque from being built.
One of terrorist group al-Qaida’s favorite recruiting techniques is telling the Islamic world that the West, particularly America, oppresses Muslims.
All the protesting against the building of the mosque/cultural center will only add legitimacy to the terrorists’ claims.
It is true, as former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said, that Saudi Arabia does not allow churches to be built at all, but we are not Saudi Arabia.
By allowing this mosque to be built, we are showing our enemies that we don’t persecute Muslims.
In fact, we would be showing our foes that we have better standards of religious freedom than the nation al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden calls home.
Secondly, building this mosque would help to isolate the radical ideologies of crazies like bin Laden from mainstream Islam.
If Americans oppose the building of the mosque because we associate Islam in general with our enemies, we are endorsing al-Qaida’s extremism as the “legitimate” form of Islam.
This is just the kind of propaganda that al-Qaida needs to gather followers of its twisted ideology. America is having a hard enough time trying to promote nonviolent, “moderate” Islam. Let’s not make our job harder by equating “real” Islam with terrorism.
All this being said, I do hope and pray that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the man behind the “Park51,” will decide on his own to relocate the mosque to a less sensitive location.
But if that doesn’t happen, this mosque could actually be a wonderful tool in our continuing war on terror.
Americans should be concerned with keeping our nation safe from terror and radical Islam. And that is exactly why we should support this mosque being built.