The principal mosque in Rome has a surface area of 30,000 square meters and can hold thousands of believers. The Christian church of Mecca has a surface area of zero square meters and can hold zero believers. In fact, there is no Christian church in Mecca. In other words, Rome is an open city and Mecca is a closed city.
There has never been opposition by Muslims to the exclusive character of Mecca. Their main sanctuary is located there, and it is forbidden for non-believers to cross the city limits. No other sanctuary of any world religion is closed to members of different creeds. The Western Wall in Jerusalem, the Jews’ holiest site, can be visited by anyone — Muslims, Christians, or Buddhists. The Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican, the center of the Roman Catholic religion, is open to any person that wishes to visit its splendor. Hindu and Buddhist temples welcome anyone who walks in, but not the Muslims’ main mosque.
Muslims claim that their religion contains the final message of God and that all other religions express falsehoods, lies, and distortions — which means that adherents to other religions cannot be accepted as equal human beings with the same rights. Churches are banned in Saudi Arabia. In “modern” Turkey, it is, in reality, impossible to renovate an old Christian church, let alone create one. In a traditional Islamic country, adherents of different religions who refuse to accept Muhammad as their prophet have to live a life with restrictions and special rules. They are the so-called “dhimmis” — people who believe in a single God but who should be treated with special restrictions because of their refusal to follow the prophet Muhammad.
In the Western world, Muslims claim the same rights as other believers. Although it is perfectly normal to them that their holiest site is forbidden to non-believers, they demand that nations in which other religions dominate grant them space and opportunity to build their mosques. The idea that this could be reciprocal is virtually unknown in Muslim communities since Islam is the superior creed and, by Allah’s word, should reign over the earth and over all the other religions.
Reciprocity would be like a denial of Allah’s word.
It speaks for itself that Muslims will try to build a mosque close to one of America’s most sacred sites, the area of the World Trade Center. They expect non-believers to step back and bow to their demands. The whole world should be open to Muslims, while in the Islamic world different religions should be restricted and controlled.
In The Jews of Islam, Bernard Lewis writes:
The claim to tolerance, now much heard from Muslim apologists and more especially from apologists for Islam, is also new and of alien origin. It is only very recently that some defenders of Islam have begun to assert that their society in the past accorded equal status to non-Muslims. No such claim is made by spokesmen for resurgent Islam, and historically there is no doubt that they are right. Traditional Islamic societies neither accorded such equality nor pretended that they were so doing. Indeed, in the old order, this would have been regarded not as a merit but as a dereliction of duty. How could one accord the same treatment to those who follow the true faith and those who willfully reject it? This would be a theological as well as a logical absurdity.