It’s impossible to imagine a Japanese temple being built in the vicinity of Pearl Harbor in 1951. Yet there is a proposal for a grandiose mosque/community center, 13 stories high, to be built just two blocks from the World Trade Center, the site where the most horrific attack on American soil occurred. On September 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives at the hands of Islamic extremists. Since perception is reality, it seems very audacious and insensitive on the part of those behind this project. (This author sent numerous emails and made numerous phone calls to the organizers requesting a response and was referred to a press release.)
Many 9/11 family members view Ground Zero as a cemetery and sacred ground. Debra Burlingame is the sister of Charles “Chic” Burlingame III, the pilot of the American Airlines plane that crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11. She is a prominent spokesperson for the 9/11 families and a co-founder of Keep America Safe. Burlingame told Pajamas Media: “I am appalled the 9/11 attack, the death of my fellow human beings, is being used to further an all-encompassing Islamic ideology. Those people who killed my brother believed in that ideology as well.”
The name for this project, the Cordoba Initiative, does not represent multi-religious attitudes as the organizers claim. Clare Lopez, a fellow at the Center for Security Policy whose expertise includes Islam, commented that this is not an example of interfaith dialogue. She pointed out that in Cordoba (the capital of Spain during the Middle Ages), pogroms were committed against the Jews, and both Jews and Christians had to pay a protection tax.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a radio address: “If somebody wants to build a religious house of worship, they should do it and we shouldn’t be in the business of picking which religions can and which religions can’t. I think it’s fair to say if somebody was going to try to on that piece of property build a church or a synagogue, nobody would be yelling and screaming.” I think the mayor got it wrong. Cordoba was not a place that espoused religious freedom, and the fact is that neither Jews nor Christians had the insensitivity to build a house of worship on such a sacred site.
It appears that the organizers did not even attempt to address the 9/11 families’ feelings. There is still no logical explanation as to why it was necessary to build it in such close proximity to the World Trade Center site. Alice Hoagland, who lost her son, Mark Bingham, on United Airlines Flight 93, told PJM: “I happen to agree with those who object to the mosque being built in that location. I am afraid that a mosque built so close to the World Trade Center site can easily be viewed as an affront to people who lost their lives on 9/11. For that reason I think it would be better put in another place. It is a pointless insult.”
Lopez feels this location was chosen because it represented a place of triumph for Islamic extremists. She commented that “this is a place of Islamic victory where the Towers were brought down. It is the physical manifestation of their victory to build a mosque just as they did in Jerusalem where the Dome of the Rock was built on top of the Second Temple and in Cordoba where a Christian cathedral was turned into a mosque.” Gordon Haberman lost his daughter Andrea at the World Trade Center. He also felt that this “is a statement. Islam is trying to dominate and expand. This has to be one of the biggest mosques — why are they building it in the shadow of the Towers?”
“I personally took pictures from many different angles of Ground Zero of that building,” continued Haberman. “It overlooks Ground Zero at different vantage points. I consider it an inappropriate location. It should be a point of contention with New Yorkers. It is not a religious issue; it is an emotional issue.”
The organizers should have the attitude of Joe Salama, a good friend of Mark Bingham whose wedding Mark was traveling to on September 11. Salama passionately stated: “It is important to remember that the 9/11 families include both families of the heroes who saved lives on that day, and the families of the victims whose lives were lost. Of course we must be considerate of their feelings on this issue because we are Americans and we don’t tolerate terrorism. We shall not encourage or indulge any potential tribute or symbol that may disrespect the memory of their lost loved ones. It is important for me, as a Muslim, to show this consideration for the 9/11 families in order that they understand that true Muslims do not support anything that could possibly be a tribute to the attacks.”
Former CIA Director James Woolsey summed up what needs to be done to stop this project. He noted that “there should be a mass demonstration in front of Bloomberg’s office. I would be glad to join it. There is absolutely no reason to put it there except triumphalism.” Burlingame agrees and feels that “this is an unbelievable lack of respect for 9/11 families. There should be awareness that the people who killed our loved ones will celebrate, propagandize, and view what is being done, what is being built as a triumph to their victory over the infidels on 9/11. When did the burden shift to us, the victims and their families?”