home
RSS
August 11th, 2010
03:48 PM ET

Opinion: Is U.S. still beacon of liberty for Muslims?

By Sharjeel Kashmir, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Sharjeel Kashmir is an investment banker who works on financial derivatives and banking strategy in New York City. He also works with international microfinance institutions on developing their corporate and governance strategies. He is an alumnus of Harvard Business School.

It's a beautiful August morning in Jersey City, New Jersey. I have just finished my regular jog around Liberty State Park. No matter how often I stand here at my favorite spot to stretch, I can only marvel that this is actually my neighborhood and my view.

In front of me, the Hudson River lies at the feet of the New York skyline. To my right, the Statue of Liberty basks in the glory of a thousand gazes from the first tour boat of the day.

Read the full story

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Islam • Muslim • Opinion • Religious liberty

soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Name*Prag

    I am not radical. I am just appalled that if the Islamic community wants to do something with regards to the misdeeds done by some radical elements, and are willing to put 200 million dollars, putting up a mosque only refreshes the wounds inflicted by the community. There are so many more noble acts which would be appreciated. But I doubt the motives are genuine. And thanks but no thanks. I have no intention to come and pray at a site with a community responsible for killing so many innocent people

    August 25, 2010 at 8:03 pm |
  2. Peyton Manning

    Ugh. U swine sicken me. Oh wait, is that too dirty for u @muslim4life? Why can't everyone just watch football instead?

    August 21, 2010 at 1:20 pm |
  3. islam lover*name*sunni hare rama

    C'mon Prag. Gimme a break. U sound 2 radical. we are investing more than 200 million dollars in downtown NY and even u are welcome to come and pray with us and understand the beauty of islam. can we all just get along even though we are hell bent to construct a mosque right there and not anywhere else

    muslim4life!

    August 21, 2010 at 1:14 pm |
  4. Name*Prag

    Allowing to let Muslims build a Islamic center does not represent a becon of liberty of Muslims. I my opinion it represent the novice of US politics. if history had taught anything infact it is that Islamic followers have destroyed sacred structures and built mosques on them only to show that they have conquered the society. If the Islamic community is so very sympathetic and appologetic them they show build another twin towers instead.

    August 18, 2010 at 7:26 pm |
    • Kate

      @Prag

      Considering *we* haven't and are still bickering over who "owns" the land, who "controls" the design, and they're still digging down (they discovered a ship a few hundred years old just the other month, remember?), that's kind of a silly suggestion.

      "Allowing" Muslims build the center at Park51 isn't supposed to represent a beacon of liberty to Muslims. It's a beacon of the Liberties enshrined in the Constitution. There's a difference. It isn't about "Muslims" per se – it's about Americans.

      People need to make a decision. Either uphold the Constitution and understand that it applies to everything, or say that it should be "qualified" – in which case we might as well toss the whole thing out of the window because once you start diluting it for what's "popularism" today, you can't complain when that populism happens to be against *you* and you're denied those rights in the future.

      August 21, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
  5. Bubba

    As a conservative Christian I believe this is a non-issue. Assuming that all state and local provisions have been met for construction of the mosque, they have a right to build, period. I'm blessed to live in this nation, and I consider us to be a Christian nation. I am equally proud that our nation is one that operates under the rule of law. I continue to pray for the families of the trade center victims, but I refuse to condemn the Islamic faith for the act of a terrorist group. My hope is that the Islamic community will realize how offensive this location will be to many Americans and decide to build elsewhere, but if they are in compliance with the laws and ordinances so be it. I am not for the building of the mosque at this location, but I am very much in favor of their right to do so.

    August 14, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
  6. John E.Hopkinson

    @ SR:
    That is a nice bit of research, and needs to be followed up with Sharjeel and others. But that is not likely. I don't recall any long term or conclusive discussion forthcoming from "Commentaries" and "blogs". Indeed The NYTimes has recently stopped permitting "Comment" on any but the most benign of its stories. Actually, those contributors who pee all over CNN for whatever reason should note that CNN is one of the few news sources to wade into the Muslim/Islam storms.
    And in keeping with the tenor of your researched article, consider this:
    Cordoba is very stubbornly advancing the cause of the "mosque" causing even Jewish observers to holler "intolerance" at objectors. (They are no doubt fearful of being cast as the instigators in any case where Jewish people are vocal in opposition to Islamic encroachment – imagine the intensity of the response, e.g. Zakaria)
    But Cordoba was a keen observer of the economic chaos and disruption caused by the Atttack On The Twin Towers. And as the "American Arab Muslim" in your article points out, the location is confrontational and intentionally so.
    it is entirely possible that Cordoba is setting the scene for an almost certain attack on their new site (it has been suggesated in commentaries in other articles). Imagine the chaos and financial disruption, a repeat of 9/11, if police, riots squads, fire engines, exploding bombs............hey!
    Objections to the location are poorly thought out, especially by the Mayor (who I believe is subject to the fears to which I alluded above).
    The objection should be almost entirely based on the evidence provided, that the opposition is such that the location will jeopardise future quiet enjoyment of the area by existing businesses and residents.
    This is so simple, and of course the simple answer are the most difficult to accept. Especially with November looming.

    August 13, 2010 at 4:46 pm |
  7. SR

    "We should firmly resist allowing political niceities and political correctness to keep us from doing the right thing and firmly resisting such indsidious and arrogant cultural intrusion. The religious hatred of the perpetrators of these crimes should not thus be honored. The truth is that the center would become a source of pride in world Islam and could become a defacto memorial to those who hijacked the planes. We cannot allow this to happen. We must defeat this by being wise and resolute."

    In a May 25th article on the website of Family Security Matters, Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser wrote in an article entitled, "Mosque Unbecoming" the following: "I am an American Muslim dedicated to defeating the ideology that fuels global Islamist terror – political Islam. And I don’t see such a ‘center’ actually fighting terrorism or being a very ‘positive’ addition near Ground Zero, no matter how well intentioned. To put it bluntly, Ground Zero is the one place in America where Muslims should think less about teaching Islam and ‘our good side’ and more about being American and fulfilling our responsibilities to confront the ideology of our enemies.

    “Khan and Rauf (the conceivers of the center) seem to conveniently view 9/11, al Qaeda and every manifestation of militant Islamism, as simply a public-relations problem for ‘Muslims in the West.’ Imam Rauf has even gone so far as to bizarrely say that the 9/11 terrorists were ‘not Muslims.’ This center is trying to change the narrative of 9/11 – to diminish what happened at Ground Zero. That can only weaken us against the very real threat of Islamist radicalization.”

    No, a mosque should not be allowed in this area. Rather, we should build a symbol of American capitalism and freedom larger than what was there before and declare to the world, and especially that of radical Islam, we shall not be bowed, or cowed. Our way of life will continue and liberty will prevail.

    August 13, 2010 at 10:30 am |
  8. SR

    From Politicsonthefly.blogspot.com:
    "We should firmly resist allowing political niceities and political correctness to keep us from doing the right thing and firmly resisting such indsidious and arrogant cultural intrusion. The religious hatred of the perpetrators of these crimes should not thus be honored. The truth is that the center would become a source of pride in world Islam and could become a defacto memorial to those who hijacked the planes. We cannot allow this to happen. We must defeat this by being wise and resolute.

    In a May 25th article on the website of Family Security Matters, Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser wrote in an article entitled, "Mosque Unbecoming" the following: "I am an American Muslim dedicated to defeating the ideology that fuels global Islamist terror – political Islam. And I don’t see such a ‘center’ actually fighting terrorism or being a very ‘positive’ addition near Ground Zero, no matter how well intentioned. To put it bluntly, Ground Zero is the one place in America where Muslims should think less about teaching Islam and ‘our good side’ and more about being American and fulfilling our responsibilities to confront the ideology of our enemies.

    “Khan and Rauf (the conceivers of the center) seem to conveniently view 9/11, al Qaeda and every manifestation of militant Islamism, as simply a public-relations problem for ‘Muslims in the West.’ Imam Rauf has even gone so far as to bizarrely say that the 9/11 terrorists were ‘not Muslims.’ This center is trying to change the narrative of 9/11 – to diminish what happened at Ground Zero. That can only weaken us against the very real threat of Islamist radicalization.”

    No, a mosque should not be allowed in this area. Rather, we should build a symbol of American capitalism and freedom larger than what was there before and declare to the world, and especially that of radical Islam, we shall not be bowed, or cowed. Our way of life will continue and liberty will prevail.

    August 13, 2010 at 10:30 am |
  9. Schiff

    I used to think saudis were mostly radical wahabi idiots, now i see that many americans share the same stupid mentality saudis have. No wonder the US & Saudis are such buddies, they deserve one another.
    to those who oppose a mosque that is two blocks away from the wtc site, next you will want to refuse any mosque in manhattan & ny, you might be thinking of putting muslims in work camps, why dont you grow up, we never whined or cried like babies when you were donating money to the IRA to bomb our cities, it's all about you, isnt it? what a bunch of sissys

    August 13, 2010 at 6:18 am |
  10. John E.Hopkinson

    Sharjeel: further to my previous post
    You have an interesting surname? Rather unusual, given your familial history, Britain to Pakistan to US.

    From Wikipedia, we learn this:
    The Muslims and Hindus of Kashmir lived in relative harmony, since the Sufi-Islamic way of life that Muslims followed in Kashmir complemented the Rishi tradition of Kashmiri Pandits.[citation needed] This led to a syncretic culture where Hindus and Muslims revered the same local saints and prayed at the same shrines[citation needed]. Famous sufi saint Bulbul Shah was able to convert Rinchan Shah who was then prince of Kashgar Ladakh to an Islamic lifestyle, thus founding the Sufiana composite culture. Under this rule, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist Kashmiris generally co-existed peacefully. Over time, however, the Sufiana governance gave way to outright Muslim monarchs[21] due to eternal Islamic policies as per 'Holy' Quran.[22][23]

    The Muslims and Hindus of Kashmir lived in relative harmony, since the Sufi-Islamic way of life that Muslims followed in Kashmir complemented the Rishi tradition of Kashmiri Pandits.[citation needed] This led to a syncretic culture where Hindus and Muslims revered the same local saints and prayed at the same shrines[citation needed]. Famous sufi saint Bulbul Shah was able to convert Rinchan Shah who was then prince of Kashgar Ladakh to an Islamic lifestyle, thus founding the Sufiana composite culture. Under this rule, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist Kashmiris generally co-existed peacefully. Over time, however, the Sufiana governance gave way to outright Muslim monarchs[21] due to eternal Islamic policies as per 'Holy' Quran.[22][23]

    August 12, 2010 at 8:10 pm |
  11. SR

    The article i was referring to was this one:

    Politics.onthefly.blogspot.com

    Building mosques in extended locations is often perceived as a symbol of conquest. And it honestly doesn't matter the motives of the builders. The reality is that the 9/11 attacks were religiously motivated. We should not make ourselves the laughingstock of the world by allowing this rank symbolism to be established in this sacred ground. The people who died there deserve better.

    In a May 18th article, an American Arab Muslim author elucidates this approach and symbolism regarding the Ground Zero Mosque approach in the online daily Elaph: "The name chosen for the mosque is confrontational and provocative. The first Cordoba mosque was built in that Spanish city in the aftermath of the Muslim conquest of Christian Spain. For both Arabs and Muslims, the history of their conquests remains as a symbol of their past glory, and power. They have no thoughts of remorse or shame, when they recall those heinous crimes that accompanied the colonization of Spain!

    “Nowadays, some Muslims in America dream of repeating that ugly history of Islamic imperialism. In fact, I submit that the very choice of “Cordoba” as the name for the projected mosque was not an innocent one. On the contrary, it indicated a longing for the resumption of Islamic futuhat (conquests) throughout the world." (In Arabic: http://www.elaph.com/Web/opinion/2010/5/562230.html)

    August 12, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  12. John E.Hopkinson

    "We want to be part of the solution. We want to build international bridges and help tolerance grow in America and around the world. After all, how can America hope to have its global vision accepted by the 1.5 billion Muslims around the world unless leaders can first sell it here at home to 6 million of their own citizens?

    The first step in achieving this is to get back to basics."

    Sharjeel Kashmir continues the false premise that it is Western Civilization which must "reach out" and "get back to basics". Sharjeel, you are right in much of your commentary.. But, you fail to mention the reaching out that exists all over the world, by those whom you have chosen to characterize as hostile to Islam. "We want to be part of the solution." Who is "We" ? You will only become part of the solution when you stop becoming "We", and become the American citizen whose characterisitics you so deeply admire.
    "We", is the "muslim community", or the Jewish community, or the Irish Catholic community, or whatever isolated community that community wants to be.
    Western Civilization? this also is merely a term, not a defintion of division. Western Civilization includes millions of disparate "communities" which have realized the dream of individual freedom.
    The so-called "American Dream" is the dream of all who would be free within the constraints of a democracy.. It is offered to the world.
    Continued and persistent complaint of persecution and misunderstanding is clouding Islam's view of the dream

    August 12, 2010 at 4:20 pm |
  13. Reality

    To all the deluded Muslims, (Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and Hindus) out there:

    You are the victims of the biggest con job ever pulled on humankind. Islamic tenets are nothing but the fairy tales of an hallucinating, contriving, warmongering, womanizing Arab named Mohammed. Analogous cons have pulled on Christians, Jews, Buddhist and Hindus.

    August 12, 2010 at 2:35 pm |
  14. Preacher

    If you let them muslims build a mosque near where was WTC, people won't be able to sleep around there. Muslims loud speakers will be on spreading their ideas in their language we don't understand, ideas not according to the Jews, Christians and Catholics the founders of this country. Freedom is in danger with the enemies of this country.

    August 12, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
1 2
Advertisement
About this blog

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.