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I say, build away.

Since the announcement of plans to erect a 13-story Islamic cultural center and mosque just blocks from Ground Zero, Americans have been voicing a wide assortment of opinions. I saw a Facebook status today that read, “Copy and paste this if you think placing a mosque near ground zero is immoral, inhumane, disrespectful, etc.”

Americans are coming forward with a myriad of opinions, but truthfully, it’s not a matter of opinion. It boils down to principle.

Whether or not Islam is peaceful has nothing to do with the issue. (It has its radical exceptions just like Christianity.) It is not a matter of disrespect to friends and families of the victims either. This ‘hallowed ground’ is already home to The New York Dolls strip club, an off-track betting parlor and several fast food restaurants. Where’s the honorable tribute in that?
I’m no expert, but I do know that protesting the erection of the center (it’s actually an Islamic cultural center that will house a mosque) goes against very basic American principles, principles which our citizens love to stand on when it’s convenient for them. To call it immoral and inhumane is insulting.

I engaged in a rigorous debate several days in which I had a finger pointed in my face and was aggressively commanded to get my facts straight and look at who was behind the project.

The project is being developed by The Cordoba Initiative, – a Sufi-Muslim group that, according to its mission statement, is “designed to cultivate multi-cultural and multi-faith understanding across minds and borders.” A group that is dedicated to widening the scope of tolerance and moderate Islam in Western countries: Where is the inhumanity in that?

What is inhumane is the racial stereotyping that has been thrust upon Muslims so vehemently that American citizens are unable to see them as anything more than war-mongering terrorists. Isn’t religious tolerance what most Americans are always so quick to say they love about this country? Isn’t expression of theological opinion and practice granted to us as citizens in those Amendments everyone is always waving around; the first one, to be specific?

The New York Times recently published a piece in which several locals were questioned about their feelings on the matter. Laique Khan, manager of a Brooklyn trucking company, said it best: “If this really is a free country then, by all rights you must, you must, allow it.”

To anyone who believes otherwise, I appreciate your sensitivity but let’s try and broaden our minds just a little. There is no cure for blind ignorance. One can only maintain dedication to providing facts for the misinformed. As for the center, I say, build away.

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