As a victim of 9/11, I want to speak out against these sentiments. I personally don't have any problem even conceiving the thought of erecting a mosque near Ground Zero. The unfortunate truth is that 9/11 was a crime committed by EXTREMISTS who happened to be associated with Islam (which is actually a quite interesting religion, for those who know little or nothing about it). Islam does not mean terrorism, and it continues to sadden me that many (not all) Americans and September 11th victims alike seem to associate it with such a disgusting act. If the extremists were Christians, or from a world which we could sympathize with more, I wonder if we would be so quick to isolate a proposed cathedral or church. We also seem to forget that many Muslims lost their lives because of what these terrorists did on 9/11, too.
I do not believe that having a mosque in downtown New York City near the former World Trade Center will take anything away from the memory of my father, or the few thousand people who tragically lost their lives in this heinous act of violence. Rather, I hope that it will extend a small olive branch to a community which so many of us have cast aside because of sheer ignorance. Perhaps it will allow us all to learn more about one another, and together grow as a world against terror, not segregated citizens of the world trampling one another.
No place of worship - mosque, cathedral, church, synagogue, or otherwise - will ever detract from the memory of our loved ones. No building will ever be able to erase the memory of what happened on September 11th, 2001. Furthermore, the memorial that will one day be erected on the former WTC site will never sit in any shadow, like many seem to believe. It will be its own sacred ground for those of us who wish for our loved ones' memories to live on. And they will, mosque down the street or not.
We also forget that there are countless street vendors selling WTC and patriotic paraphernalia lining the former World Trade Center. To me, that is more disrespectful and distracting from the respect those who lost their lives deserve than a religious institution. We might be better off asking the street vendors to leave the perimeter entirely instead of continuing to push away a community, and a religion, that is just as American as any other.
The only people to blame for what happened on 9/11 are those who acted out against our nation and killed innocent people who were simply going about their business. We do not have the entire Islamic faith to call the culprit, and the world would be a better place if we could find it in our hearts to accept difference, learn about those we do not understand, and come together to fight violence, not a different God.
Simply put, Muslim is not synonymous with terrorist.
The beauty of social media highlights itself in moments like this, because it gives volume to voices that would otherwise go unheard. Just as many have voiced their hate and opposition of this idea, I am voicing my support as someone who lost a loved one that will never be replaced. This petty battle detracts from the memory of an important event in our history, of those we loved and lost, and of where our country should be heading.
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