Muslim Leaders Unite Behind Center

Leaders of local and national groups gathered at the site of the planned center, two blocks from ground zero, and declared not only that the planners had a constitutional right to build it, but also that they would help the project move forward in the face of heated opposition. They insisted that, as a matter of principle, the center should not budge from its planned site.

The Muslim leaders called on elected officials “to join their colleagues in denouncing and rejecting inflammatory rhetoric that endangers the lives of Muslim Americans.”

The proposed Islamic community center and mosque in Lower Manhattan got its strongest vote of confidence yet from major Muslim leaders on Monday, after months of behind-the-scenes grumbling that they were not properly consulted on the project, and a day’s worth of intense and painful conversations at a hotel near Kennedy International Airport.

Koran Burner Derek Fenton Booted From His Job at NJ Transit

New Jersey Transit fired an employee, Derek Fenton, for burning a Koran in Lower Manhattan on Sept. 11 in his off-duty hours. Derek Fenton’s 11-year career at the agency came to an abrupt halt Monday after photographs of him ripping pages from the Muslim holy book and setting them ablaze appeared in newspapers. Fenton was apparently inspired by Pastor Terry Jones (the Florida clergyman who threatened to burn the Koran that day who later changed his mind) did indeed burn the book during a protest on the ninth anniversary of Sept 11 outside of Park 51, where the controversial mosque slated to build near Ground Zero.

The incidence has sparked a debate on free speech and if public workers are limited to express such rights.

Muslim Americans have a history before 9/11

Muslim Americans were not invented on 11 September 2001. Our history with New York, and the rest of the country for that matter, far precedes those attacks. Some of the earliest arrivals were on slave ships that crossed the Atlantic.

Yet the anti-Muslim hate metastasising across the United States these days is ferocious in its determination to drive a wedge between the “American” and the “Muslim” of our identities.

Quran Burning Advocate, Geert Wilders, Europe’s Anti-Islamist Heads to Ground Zero

On September 11, Geert Wilders, the contentious Dutch politician who likened the Koran to Mein Kampf, spoke in New York on the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. He delivered a message, forewarning about the dangers of Islam and the building of a “ground-zero mega-mosque.”

Under the threat of death from radical Islamists, Geert, stated; “We who have come to speak today, object to this mosque project because its promoter and his wealthy sponsors have never suggested building a center to promote tolerance and interfaith understanding where it is really needed: In Mecca – a town where non-Muslims are not even allowed to enter, let alone build churches, synagogues, temples or community centers. So why should we do that?”

Obama and Religious Leaders Call for Religious Tolerance

Prominent Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders held an extraordinary “emergency summit” meeting in the capital on Tuesday to denounce what they called “the derision, misinformation and outright bigotry” aimed at American Muslims during the controversy over the proposed Islamic community center near ground zero.
They said they were alarmed that the “anti-Muslim frenzy” and attacks at several mosques had the potential not only to tear apart the country, but also to undermine the reputation of America as a model of religious freedom and diversity.

Gen. David H. Petraeus warned on Tuesday that any video of Americans burning the Koran “would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan — and around the world — to inflame public opinion and incite violence,” endangering the lives of American soldiers.
In Gainesville, Florida, clergy members, academics and elected officials planned dozens of events to counter the plan to burn Korans, as planned by Pastor Terry Jones, starting on Wednesday with an interfaith prayer service.

“As Americans were are not—and never will be—at war with Islam”

Nine years after the terrorist attacks of 9/11; thousands packed the makeshift plaza alongside a construction site sprouting cranes and American flags on a crystal-clear morning for memorial and prayers services for the deceased. The names of the 3,000 victims were read while bells tolled at 8:46, the precise moment at which the first plane hit the north tower.

At the Pentagon, President Obama called for tolerance and said, “As Americans we are not — and never will be — at war with Islam,” as he addressed the ensuing debate over the construction of an Islamic Center near ground zero. During the ceremony, knots of protesters wandered the area, sometimes arguing. In the afternoon, a few blocks away, police officers and barricades separated demonstrations, both for and against the Muslim center, that each drew about 2,000 people.

The mosque debate pits advocates of religious freedom against critics who say putting an Islamic
center so close to ground zero disrespects the dead. While the rallies planned in New York embroiled victims’ family members in a feud over whether to play politics, a threat to burn copies of the Quran was apparently called off. The effects of which could be felt all the way in Afghanistan, where on Saturday shops and police checkpoints had been set afire as thousands of people protested the planned burning and chanted “Death to America” in Logar province. At least 11 people were injured Friday in similar protests in Badakhshan province.
In Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, cleric Rusli Hasbi told 1,000 worshipers at Friday prayers that whether or not Jones burns the Quran, he already has “hurt the heart of the Muslim world.”
Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who had announced, and then suspended, plans to burn copies of the Koran, arrived in New York on Friday seeking a meeting with Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam behind the proposed Muslim center. The pastor’s presence in the city, under police protection, only added to the day’s drama.

Nationally, speeches and memorial services were addressed a slew of national and international figures, ranging from former first lady Laura Bush to Michelle Obama. John R. Bolton, the former Unites States ambassador the UN, addressed a New York rally against the planned Muslim center via video, and Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician who tried to ban the Koran in his country, described Islam as an intolerant “power of darkness,” saying, “We must draw the line, so that New York, rooted in Dutch tolerance, will never become New Mecca.”

America’s History of Fear

A radio interviewer asked me the other day if I thought bigotry was the only reason why someone might oppose the Islamic center in Lower Manhattan. No, I don’t. Most of the opponents aren’t bigots but well-meaning worriers — and during earlier waves of intolerance in American history, it was just the same.

Screeds against Catholics from the 19th century sounded just like the invective today against the Not-at-Ground-Zero Mosque. The starting point isn’t hatred but fear: an alarm among patriots that newcomers don’t share their values, don’t believe in democracy, and may harm innocent Americans.