This is going to difficult to write. There is already so much argument about this topic, but I had to say something. After much deliberation, a vote was taken. 29 for, 1 against. This vote allows for the go ahead to build an Islamic mosque on a spot that is mere feet from where two Boeing 767s were flown into the World Trade Center buildings 1 & 2. A site, where 2,995 people died. A site that, the very mention of brings sadness into ones heart.
Just like everyone else, I can remember so much of that day. Of hearing what occurred...of being in utter shock. I was in high school then. I couldn't focus on my work, people died, lives were destroyed. I did not know a single person who died there, but each and every death cut into my heart. This atrocity that man inflicted on itself, it was too much. I watched, I felt hallow, I cried. It did not matter to me that I did not know a single person there, what mattered was there were people, my fellow humans, burning, crying, jumping, collapsing. So many lives were lost, I sat there on the floor, wanting to do something, anything to help someone. I wanted so badly to be able to get into a vehicle and drive up there and do something, anything, I could do to help. But I could do nothing at the time. Like so many others, I felt utterly helpless.
I learned that those who hijacked the 767s that flew into the buildings, they believed what they were doing was just and deserved. That their god had commanded them to attack the infidel. That they should lay down their lives and force others to do the same in the name of their deity. That they were Islamic zealots, set loose upon us to rain down destruction and terror and blood in the name of their most holy prophet and god. I heard the messages left by the hijackers, how strongly they believed in their 'mission'. I saw, that day, a religion celebrate the deaths of the innocent, the unknowing, the people just going about their daily lives only to find themselves thrust into hell. I saw people exulting the acts of those who brought death to so many. I heard the praising of Allah for allowing that day to happen.
And now, nine years later, I hear about the plans to build a mosque near that site where so much tragedy occurred. I hear that it is a sign of the good will of Islam, to honor the dead. Yet I look to their holy book and their beliefs and I wonder whom of the fallen they intend to honor with such a building.
I learned that the project is named Córdoba. I think of that word, knowing I've heard it before. I think and search and find that there is another Córdoba. This other Cordoba is much older and it is located in Spain. It too is a mosque. It was once a church of the Christian Visigoths, but when Islam spread to that region, it was bought, then work started. It was reworked over two centuries into the Great Mosque of Córdoba. It is a common religious act, not just Islamic but Christian as well, to build a center of worship upon conquered lands. To show the local inhabitants that, while they may retain their churches or synagogues (as was the practice then if the land was acquired peacefully), it was now to be known as Islamic territory. The mosque at Córdoba was such a monument. It told the world that Spain was now under the rule of Islam. Times and powers changed, Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain retook the site. They placed Santiago de Compostela’s captured cathedral bells atop Córdoba and re-christened it a Christian Chapel.
Like the Spanish Córdoba, the new proposed mosque, if built at this site, will be a sign of conquered lands. The politicians, afraid of being called bigots or racists or Islamaphobes, allow for the mosque to be built. Do they know the symbolism of such a structure? Perhaps, I'm sure one of their aids could bring them the information if they asked for it. But they know if they vote against it, it will be bad PR for them, less votes later on.
Am I saying that no mosques should be built? No, though I wouldn't mind if another were not constructed, just as I wouldn't mind not seeing another church or temple or synagogue being raised. As I see all of them belonging to false beliefs. What I am saying is that to build a mosque a few feet from the very site that Islam was used to massacre so many is not a way to honor the victims. It is a monument exclaiming that Islam will be spread no matter the cost in innocent lives.
I am sure there will be some that will claim that I am simply being intolerant of someone else's culture, just as those politicians would have been accused had they voted against this structure. But I am not against a culture. I am against the idea that religion should get a free ride from society. I am against seeing a monument that would resound with the very ideology that caused so much bloodshed, so many tears, so many broken lives. I cannot, in good conscious, support the building of the very symbol that twisted so many minds into a hatred against innocent lives. A hatred that drove people to kill, all for a god who will not answer their prayers or save their lives or bring them peace. This cannot be done.