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July 19th, 2010
09:24 AM ET

Islamaphobia and the Muslim center at Ground Zero

By John L. Esposito, Special to CNN

Editor's note: John L. Esposito is professor of Religion and International Affairs and director of Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal center for Muslim-Christian understanding at Georgetown University at Georgetown University. His most recent book is "The Future of Islam"

The proposal by the Cordoba Initiative to build an Islamic center near Ground Zero has drawn major media attention and engendered fierce debate. Right-wing political commentators, politicians, hard-line Christian ministers, bloggers and some families of 9/11 victims have charged that it is insensitive to 9/11 families, dishonors memories of the victims and will be a "monument to terrorism."

But here are the facts: The center is not at Ground Zero but two blocks away, and the Cordoba Initiative seeks to build a center, not a mosque. The center is not designed as a local mosque for a Muslim community but rather to serve the wider community.

Read the full commentary

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Islam • Opinion

soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. steve jaubert

    Perhaps CNN should consider the term Ameriphobia and present an article about all the Muslims having 'problems' with all the so called 'Islamaphobia' as they adjust to America with all their special needs like extra breaks for prayer time, conflicts with dress codes, preaching Islam illegally in public schools, and selling racist inflammatory media connected with terrorism while serving up contradictory rhetoric about civil rights knowing full well that their religion harbors terrorist factions that are constantly in the news. CNN is severly disrespectful of most Americans to label their justifiable concerns as a phobia when so much terrorism linked to Islam has caused security threats to this country here and abroad. The so called moderate muslims have not shown to any significant degree their opposition to the terrorist factions linked to their religion and they represent a trojan horse that threatens our American way of life. No other religion though they disagree on many points has had such a potential. The quiet moderate muslim group can be likened to the quiet who have always stood by in fear of questioning and going against the ones with power. Let the facts speak for themselves and decide if rightful fear is warranted by association. The 'ground zero' mosque is both insensitive and inflammatory to nonmuslims and will be a constant reminder of the terrorism that struck America near that location. Lawful iit may be but that's ignoring the effect it will have on other religions of faith like Christians, Jews, and others. Phobia is an irrational abnormal unjustifiable fear while fear is a rational normal and justifiable reaction to very real threats and America has reason to fear based on present and historical evidence. steve jaubert

    September 2, 2010 at 9:46 am |
  2. Reality

    Considering the flaws and errors in the theology and history of all religions, all priests, rabbis, imams, preachers and evangelicals should be given "pink slips". And churches, mosques, temples and synagogues should be converted to gardens with the following sign over the entrances: Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself and Do No Harm.

    July 20, 2010 at 11:52 pm |
  3. Hypatia

    I never in a million years thought that I would ever agree with a single word from Sarah Palin's idiotic mouth. But whoever wrote her script for this one got it right: this IS an unnecessary provocation and its completely typical of armchair liberals to insist that 'THIS IS GOOD'. It isn't. I know people who lost family on 9/11 and theirs should truly be the only opinion here that matters at all.

    But they will shove this piece of merde down NYers throats in the name of religious tolerance when it is anything BUT. It's simply ac cynical political move and has nothing to do with 'tolerance' at all.

    As a former NY-er (and one always at heart), I say build your mosque. And then build a church next door. Or better yet, a temple. And see if those noble sentiments go both ways. They don't and NY will find it out fast enough.

    July 20, 2010 at 10:52 am |
    • Frogist

      Hypatia, there are already mosques in NY... as are temples, churches etc etc. I support building the center in NYC. And I also know families who lost people in on 9/11. And I also live in the tri-state. We could see the smoke from our house.

      I do not consider it a slap in the face that muslims who denounce terrorism want to build bridges of understanding so the healing can start in earnest. We are a country of religious tolerance. Let's keep it that way.

      July 20, 2010 at 4:23 pm |
  4. gandulara

    OK, so why has this become such an urgency to build a mosque within ground zero vicinity?? BECAUSE A)the muslims just want to martyr the dead muslims in ground zero B) It is another way of giving the American public the middle finger C) The Muslims just want to push and gloat how much the US has become soft D) Once and if the mosque is built it gives them proof positive that the US politicians are selling out the country AND E) Future terroristic activities will have a home base close to their intended target.

    I guess there is no wrong answer here. The muslims seem to be on the winning side with Kiss Azz politicians.

    July 20, 2010 at 9:46 am |
  5. Reality

    Professor" John L. Esposito's Georgetown salary is paid for by a Muslim sheik i.e. any commentary by him is so koranic-tainted that one wonders why the moderators put it on this blog.

    July 19, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  6. Reality

    Another topic "beat into the ground"!!!

    Once again: Considering the flaws and errors in the theology and history of all religions, all priests, rabbis, imams, preachers and evangelicals should be given "pink slips". Churches, mosques, temples and synagogues should be converted to gardens with the following sign over the entrances: Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself and Do No Harm.

    July 19, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  7. Reality

    "Professor" John L. Esposito's Georgetown salary is paid for a Muslim sheik i.e. any commentary by him is so koranic-tainted that one wonders why the moderators put it on this blog.

    July 19, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
    • Frogist

      Still norReferences, Reality? You can't just make these statements as fact without backup.

      July 20, 2010 at 4:05 pm |
    • Reality

      Frogist, Unfortunately, the moderators of this blog delete most comments that have references but from the topic bio above- "John L. Esposito is professor of Religion and International Affairs and director of Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal center for Muslim-Christian understanding at Georgetown University". And there is this: The center has received a $20 million endowment from Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal "to advance education in the fields of Islamic civilization and Muslim-Christian understanding and strengthen its presence as a world leader in facilitating cross-cultural and inter-religious dialogue".

      In reality, the prince gave Georgetown (and Professor Esposito) $20 million to promote the Islamic myths of angelic revelations to a warmongering, womanizing (11 wifes) Arab named Mohammed.

      July 20, 2010 at 11:48 pm |
  8. LeShon

    Wow, I just had two posts deleted that dared to question the link between Islam and terrorism. Did I accidentally log into FoxNews.com? Unbelievable. I guess arguing for freedom of religion is about as futile as arguing for free speech.

    July 19, 2010 at 4:18 pm |
  9. jaycee

    its just not proper, you people blow up whats there and replace it with your own, you have conquer, and i have muslim friends but its not rite.

    July 19, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
    • LeShon

      Let's try this again. "You people" is a dangerous way to think, in my opinion. Lumping people together because of their religion, ethnicity, race, etc is almost always a bad idea. Maybe, just MAYBE, it's the wrong thing to do on this issue as well. Call me crazy.

      July 19, 2010 at 4:19 pm |
  10. I aM

    Any Church or Synagoge will be able to be built some blocks away from Mecca? Do not be too wise...

    July 19, 2010 at 11:51 am |
    • LeShon

      There are Christian churches in Mecca, and in most other major cities in the Middle East. Approximately 20% of Baghdad residents are Christian, and there are Christian churches all over that city. I've seen them. In fact, Christians in Iraq are treated much better than Muslims in New York right now. Might be something for the opponents of this community center to think about while scrambling for the moral high ground.

      July 19, 2010 at 4:10 pm |
    • dutchblitz1

      LeShon- Non-Muslims are not even allowed in Mecca, so how is it that there are Christian churches in Mecca?

      July 20, 2010 at 9:21 pm |
    • Strawfoot

      leshon – give me a break. There's not a reader here who believes muslims in the US/NY are being treated worse than Christians in Bagdad. Stop writing garbage.

      August 16, 2010 at 9:03 pm |
  11. Tommie

    They should move the mosque to a more appropriate location. Unless there is some special reason to locate it right next to ground zero. IF so what could that reason be?

    There should be no shortage of offers for a different location. New Yorkers are always glad to help.

    July 19, 2010 at 11:50 am |
    • LeShon

      What Hannity, Limbaugh, Palin, etc won't tell you is that the proposed site is over two blocks away, which is an eternity in a city as crowded and strapped for space as NYC. Even if you believe that somehow building an Islamic center in New York is offensive (I would argue that belief is far more offensive than any community center), it's not being built "right on top of" Ground Zero as some would have you think.

      July 19, 2010 at 4:16 pm |
    • Daniel

      How about a mosque AT ground zero to totally repudiate terrorism and violence, and to commemorate the -muslim- employees at the WTC etc. killed in the attack? I would be perfectly fine with that.

      But a -community center- TWO BLOCKS AWAY should not be any kind of controversy at all. Shame!

      July 19, 2010 at 11:29 pm |
  12. Mike

    :The center is not at Ground Zero but two blocks away, and the Cordoba Initiative seeks to build a center, not a mosque. The center is not designed as a local mosque for a Muslim community but rather to serve the wider community.

    Gee I wonder where the misinformation comes from that creates this fear... oh look there is a link to a related story
    Controversy Over Ground Zero Mosque Plans

    The case for and against the Ground Zero mosque

    July 19, 2010 at 9:40 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.