GZ Imam: Ground Zero Is Not “Hallowed Ground”
posted at 3:29 pm on September 13, 2010 by Howard Portnoy
AP reports that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has said he is looking for a “resolution to the raging debate” over the proposed location of his Cordoda House mosque.
In a question-and-answer session following a speech before the Council on Foreign Relations, Rauf said, “We are exploring all options as we speak right now, and we are working to what will be a solution, God willing, that will resolve this crisis, diffuse it and not create any unforeseen or untoward circumstances that we do not want to see happen.”
So does that mean he’s amenable to finding another location? Not necessarily, though when asked whether the project was worth all the angst an bitterness that have arisen around it, he replied, “The answer is a categorical yes. Why? Because this center will be a place for all faiths to come together in mutual respect.”
But the highlight of the Q & A was Rauf’s claim that “[i]t is absolutely disingenuous as some have suggested that the block [on which he wants to build his cultural center] is hallowed ground.” The reason for his reaction? Because there are strip joints and betting parlors nearby.
There is a problem in the imam’s reasoning. Even assuming that the strip joints and betting parlors were built since September 11, 2001–and it is entirely conceivable they were already there–their addition in no way diminishes the sacred nature of the memorial to those so senselessly lost on that fateful day. It is perhaps in questionable taste to build a betting parlor across the street from a cemetery, but doing so does not prevent those wishing to pay their respects from making visits to the gravesites of lost loved ones.
But a question that seems to logically arise now is why the imam would choose to build his mosque across the street from extant strip joints and betting parlors. Wouldn’t he and his fellow worshipers feel more comfortable praying in a different location?