Saturday, August 14, 2010

What God do you pray to?

Does it matter what religion we belong to?
Sunday August 15, 2010

LAST Tuesday, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission voted 9 to 0 in favour of allowing the demolition of a building near the World Trade Centre site to make way for a 13-storey Islamic cultural centre and mosque.

Plans for the construction of the proposed mosque drew strong criticism from American politicians such as Sarah Palin who last month Tweeted to say: “Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing.”

She Tweeted again later saying to New Yorkers: “Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real.”

Palin was not the only one opposed to the building of the mosque.

The National Republican Trust paid for a provocative advertisement called “Kill the Ground Zero Mosque” which replayed scenes from Sept 11 with a background voice saying “On Sept 11, they declared war against us. They want to build a 13-storey mosque at Ground Zero. This ground is sacred. That mosque is a monument to their victory. The mosque at Ground Zero must not stand.”

Despite such opposition, the path is now finally open for the project to proceed.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in a stirring speech given following the Landmarks Preservation Commission vote, stated that the government had no right whatsoever to deny Muslims the right to build a mosque.

“Let us not forget that Muslims were among those murdered on 9/11 and that our Muslim neighbours grieved with us as New Yorkers and as Americans. We would betray our values – and play into our enemies’ hands – if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else. In fact, to cave to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists – and we should not stand for that,” Bloomberg said.

“On Sept 11, 2001, thousands of first responders heroically rushed to the scene and saved tens of thousands of lives. More than 400 of those first responders did not make it out alive. In rushing into those burning buildings, not one of them asked ‘What God do you pray to?’ ‘What beliefs do you hold?” the mayor said, before finishing by noting that political controversies may come and go but there is no neighbourhood in New York that is off limits to God’s love and mercy.

It is difficult to be a Muslim in many Western countries. Religious bigots are quick to play up on fears and remind everyone of not only Sept 11 but also the dangers of creeping Islamisa tion. — Sin Chew Daily/ANN

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