There are so many questions about the Ground Zero mosque.
Why is it being built? Who is funding the $100 million project? Who is going to be in charge of the mosque? Why don’t the builders have more sensitivity to the 9/11 victims?
The truth is the mosque is not at Ground Zero. It is two blocks away. The mosque is also just a small part of the entire project. By the way, there will be no minarets either.
A 13-story community center is planned. Officially known as Park51, it includes:
- Recreation spaces and fitness facilities (swimming pool, gym, basketball court)
- 500-seat auditorium
- Restaurant and culinary school
- Cultural amenities including exhibitions
- Education programs
- Library, reading room and art studios
- Childcare services
- September 11th memorial and quiet contemplation space
Some have feared that terrorist money is backing the project. In reality, none of the money has been raised. The group organizing the building said they may have to raise some foreign money for its building, but plans to be careful who it takes the money from. The fundraisers will work with the New York Charities Bureau and the “highest standards set forth by the Treasury Department,” which investigates terrorist links.
It is going to be run by board that will include members of other religions “to protect the interests of the center and to ensure the center has the highest standards of transparency.”
This is not a mosque planned for radical Muslims. It is the opposite. The purpose of the center is to keep Muslims away from “radicalization, extremism and terrorism.”
“The universal values of all religions will be the underpinning of our center. It will all happen in an atmosphere of interfaith collaboration,” said Daisy Khan, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, and wife of Feisal Abdul Rauf, the main organizer of the project.
Muslim radicals never use the word’s “interfaith” or “universal values of all religions.” That should give some indication of what is going on.
Rauf has been criticized for his reluctance to denounce Hamas as a terrorist group and for calling the United States’ policies an “accessory” to the 9/11 attacks because of American support to Muslim dictators. Despite his sometimes wishy-washy comments about things that should be much clearer, Rauf remains what most people consider a moderate voice in Islam. He sees himself as a bridge builder between cultures, which partially explains his sometimes weak criticisms. He wants to keep a dialogue open to those who disagree with him while he explains the positive of the Muslim experience in America.
Rauf was selected by both the Bush and Obama administrations to outreach to the Islamic world. Anyone with the high-level government contacts that he has with both Republican and Democratic administrations would have been checked out thoroughly. If he had any history of radicalism or even a hint of not being moderate, Bush and Obama would not touch him.
It may not be the greatest idea by Rauf to build his center so close to Ground Zero, but what he is doing is exactly what many Americans have been asking. We want moderate Muslims to stand up and do something about Islamic extremism. In some ways, near Ground Zero is one of the best places for that.
A Muslim memorial to 9/11, as is planned at this center, is a finger in the eye of all radical Muslims who see 9/11 as a great victory. At the very least, this is what needed.