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August 4th, 2010
04:31 PM ET

Opinion: There's nothing new about mosques in New York

Editor's note: Jerrilynn Dodds is the Dean of Sarah Lawrence College in New York and author of New York Masjid: the Mosques of New York (2002). Her most recent book is Arts of Intimacy: Christians, Jews and Muslims in the Making of Castilian Culture, which she co-authored with Maria Menocal and Abigail Krasner Balbale.

By Jerrilynn Dodds, Special to CNN

It's hard to think of a better place for a mosque today than lower Manhattan, near to ground zero. To support the siting of a mosque there is not just deeply American–a declaration of the freedoms we stand for - it is the continuation of a long and established New York tradition of mosque-building.

In fact, by any historical measure it is absurd to see Cordoba House, a community center that will include a mosque, as a kind of hostile and exotic cultural invasion of the lower east side. Mosques have been part of New York's rich architectural and religious mix for over a century, and today hundreds of thousands of Muslims, many whose New York roots go back generations - attend the city's more than 100 mosques in the five boroughs.

Read the full story

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Houses of worship • Interfaith issues • Islam • Mosque

soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. nina ra....

    Jerrilynn Dodds..... you are soooo stupied. It is very clear that you are favoring Muslims.

    August 10, 2010 at 2:31 pm |
  2. SR

    The Crusades were a reaction to the violence perpetrated by Islam on European people. So wherever you turn in history, Islam, with its totalitarian ideology shows up, provoking honest, decent people into defending themselves and their way of life. This latest provocation is neither the first nor will it be the last. Islam, like communism and nazism will be fought for a long time until it dies.

    August 7, 2010 at 9:22 am |
    • nina ra....

      @SR.... AMEN

      August 10, 2010 at 2:32 pm |
  3. CnnAfrika

    Categorized | New York, News
    St. Nicholas of Manhattan in Ruins while Mosque Rises
    Posted on 23 July 2010 by Apostolos Papapostolou Tags: Politics ShareThis

    St. Nicholas church before the Sept 11 attacks.
    George Demos, the Conservative Republican Candidate for Congress in New York’s First Congressional District issued the following statement on the proposed mosque amid the sacred ruins of Ground Zero and expressed outrage at our own government’s refusal to rebuild the only house of worship that was actually destroyed on September 11th- the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church.

    George Demos said:

    “On September 11, 2001, over 3,000 Americans, including 168 residents of our community in Suffolk County, were taken from us by the evil acts of Islamic extremists bent on destroying our freedoms. Amid the thick smoke and choking ashes of that fateful day, the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church was reduced to dust.

    Since 1922, St. Nicholas Church had stood as a quiet sanctuary of prayer and reflection amidst the tumultuous and bustling crossroads of commerce. For nine years the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey has used bureaucratic obstacles and false promises to hinder the rebuilding of the St. Nicholas Church. This must end and it must end now.

    What an outrage that our government has put roadblocks in the path of its own citizens trying rebuild their beloved Church destroyed by Islamic extremists, while Saudi Arabia, a nation that prohibits people from even wearing a Cross or the Star of David, now provokes the families of those who lost loved ones by apparently funneling money to build a mosque at the same location.

    As our Congressman, I will always remember that our Constitutional freedom of religion starts with respecting our own sacred Judeo-Christian heritage. Now is the time for the Port Authority to stop hiding behind its bureaucracy and to facilitate the rebuilding of the St. Nicholas Church that was taken from us on that quiet September morning nearly a decade ago.”

    More at George Demos’ campaign website

    August 5, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
  4. Bundy

    I learned all I need to know about Islam on 9/11

    August 5, 2010 at 8:42 am |
    • kman

      and I learned all I need to know about Christianity from the crusades and about Judaism from the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

      August 5, 2010 at 4:24 pm |
  5. (B)iraq Hussein Osama

    For those who think Islam "needs reforming" like christianity. I say hardly! The central thesis of Islam is the belief in one supreme God and daily prayer to Him alone. Charity, fasting, marriage, child rearing, good manners, law-abiding society these are the foundations of Islam and these are the values that make Muslims liked and admired all across the Western World wherever actual westerners interact day to day with actual muslims.

    Jihadism, politics, self-righteousness, intolerance, these are not Islam's central values, these are central values of human beings in general. You, the average westerner should define Islam, by the Muslims you know in person, not the ones you see on the news! If you do not know any Muslims in person, than you should not have any opinion of Muslims. You should try to get to know some instead.

    August 5, 2010 at 12:31 am |
  6. Brian Bradley

    Congratulations, Dean Dodds, on your clear thinking and elquent writing. I shared your written opinion with friends and family as an example of same, and admitted that I also wish I could express myself so well. Even though I am an atheist, I agree with your position. Freedom to belive what we wish (mostly thought of in America as freedom of religion) must be preserved. To that end, some people will be offended, but it's the price that society as a whole must pay.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:25 pm |
  7. Barbara

    Take my last name of comment # 3 before Barbara Mullins' all over the country are shot dead.

    August 4, 2010 at 8:27 pm |
  8. Barbara Mullins

    To remain faithful to the nation that we are, and the principles upon which we were founded, requires the inclusion of Muslims into our society. Surely certain Muslims equate this with weakness, and some of these WILL find their way into this particular mosque. Their opinion is based on their mistaken belief that Jesus Christ and those who hold fast to the love and respect He taught us to have for one another are weak and of no value, and the desperate need they have to believe they are better than the rest of humanity. This is the delusion which enables them to use people like toilet paper. The Father in Heaven has repeatedly crushed such cultures to molecules, and that culture is next.

    August 4, 2010 at 7:47 pm |
  9. SR

    Jerrilynn
    Your article is Appalling. Your justification ofr is mosque is the worst kind of appeasement to a fascist group i have read. You are trying to appease a supremacist group that does not know where religion ends and society begins. Muslims have had over a thousand years to reform this division by revising the Koran. But they have failed. It's now 2010. But thanks to apologists like you, they will never reform The Book.

    I don't mind people following whatever they consider to be The Book. But when they start misuing our laws and tolerance, to make us bend to their will and Their Book, that is when Civil Society ends and disorder ensues. Islam and its followers have done this in countless countries throughout their history. Ours is next. Are we going to submit to their book or are we going to ask them to respect our feelings and our society instead? We have had Muslims, both moderate and radical, wanting to be treated differently at work, at leisure and in society for being different since their Book says so. If we continue to appease this Difference, then where does it end?

    I know it's cute to be with fellow elites like Stephen but when Islamists come to your door, it's too late to come running here asking for forgiveness for your appeasement.

    August 4, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  10. Reality

    Actually, there should be no mosques anywhere on the face of the globe. Why?

    Muslim convert journalist Stephen Schwartz, American Jewish Committee terrorism expert Yehudit Barsky, and U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer have all separately testified to a growing radical Islamist Wahhabi influence in U.S. mosques, financed by extremist groups. According to Barsky, 80% of U.S. mosques are so radicalized.

    August 4, 2010 at 4:51 pm |
    • FishtownYo

      And these people you mention don't have an agenda as well? Get a clue and stop point fingers, clean up your own backyard first. It's a big world and it doesn't exclusively belong to the Christians

      August 4, 2010 at 11:01 pm |
    • Reality

      Fishtown,

      One more time:

      Recognizing the flaws in the foundations of Islam, Judaism and Christianity by the "bowers", "kneelers" and "pew peasants" will quickly converge these religions into some simple rules of life. No clerics, imams, rabbis and priests needed or desired. Ditto for their houses of worthless worship. It will be called the great "Pink Slipping" of religion and its leaders.

      As per James Somerville, Philosophy professor emeritus from Xavier University, Cincinnati,

      "The faith of the vast majority of believers (and non-believers) depends upon where they were born and when."

      It is disturbing that such religious violence and hatred continues unabated due to radomness of birth. Maybe just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of it all.

      August 5, 2010 at 12:07 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.