Today: Jul 17, 2024

NYC’s Islamic Cultural Center and Mosque Debate


Steve Miller

Opinions Editor

If you had to pick one city to represent the cultural diversity of our nation, your first pick as well as mine would be New York City. With its five boroughs, NYC is a mecca for people of all cultures, customs, and beliefs.

But a recent poll conducted by the New York Times shows residents of the Big Apple may not be as culturally accepting as we may think. Let’s take a look at some of the results, shall we?

· When asked whether Muslim-Americans were “more sympathetic to terrorists” than other citizens, 33 percent said yes.

· 31 percent said they did not know any Muslims, while 39 percent said they knew Muslims but “not as close friends.”

· 21 percent confessed to having “negative feelings” toward Muslims because of 9/11, and 59 percent said they knew people who did.

· 72 percent agreed that people had every right to build a “house of worship” near the site but only 62 percent agreed when “house of worship” was changed to “Islamic community center or Mosque.”

· 67 percent thought the mosque planners should find a less controversial location.

Even across the country, approximately a dozen other Mosques are now under fire. From protests in
Tennessee to California, American Mosques are being portrayed as “monuments to terror or terror training centers,” according to Though the location of the mosque in lower Manhattan is a major issue, apprehension towards Muslims has reached communities all over the nation.

Yet I doubt this would be an issue had a Catholic sector wanted to open a church, or if Jews wished to open a synagogue. It’s worrisome to see just how un-accepting some Americans can be. We boast cultural diversity and fight for equal rights, but even in one of the most diverse cities in the nation Islamophobia is alive and well.

Now, the American public has a lot on its plate. With the economic crisis rising, a national unemployment rate at 9.6 percent in August when Obama’s Road to Recovery plan was supposed to create 600,000 new jobs in 10 markets, and midterm elections only weeks away, doesn’t protesting religious equality seem a tad ridiculous?

Its unfortunate some Americans blindly classify Muslims as religious extremists based on nothing more than fear and misunderstanding. Perhaps equally appalling is how some politicians, namely Carl Paladino and Rick Lazio, two Republicans running for New York governor, agree that the “Ground-Zero Mosque” would be a terrorist triumph despite a recent Duke University study that showed contemporary American mosques
actually prevent terrorism rather than incite it.

Yes, other religious and ethnic groups—African Americans, Jews, the Japanese—have been segregated by Americans in the past, but in the year 2010 I’d like to think we were past hating others based on religious affiliation.

In the end, this anti-Islamic rhetoric will do nothing more than breed hatred and compromise national security. American values should uphold equality for all religious practicing citizens and promote understanding. Tolerance is not enough. Americans, especially New Yorkers, need to lead by example and not give in to this perceived Western ethnocentric way of thought. People often forget that we have all been affected by the 9/11 attacks and are still recovering from the events of that day a decade later. Only when we substitute compassion for bigotry, and acceptance for discrimination, will we grow and benefit as a nation united.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Latest from Blog