The building of new mosques have made headlines recently, but the proposed construction of an Islamic Center famously referred to as the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ in the Lower East Side of Manhattan has become a major national topic. During the meeting in the Student Commons’ Richmond Salons, students weighed in with varying opinions.
According to Muslim Student Association member Ashraf Eltahir, the nationwide bickering over this issue has “highlighted Islamophobia, the real issue that was not being explicitly addressed.” He added, “the bigger problem has been exposed and that problem is acceptance.” The establishment of this Islamic Center has been met with widespread resistance and criticism from the public.
Jesse Hudson, a sophomore Chemistry major, is not a member of the MSA, but showed up to share his views. He said that the Islamic center “shouldn’t be modified because of others’ bigotry, and we shouldn’t compromise the integrity of the original plans just to quell fear.
I hope this center is a beacon and dispels fears to show people that it truly is a community center and brings people together.”
A centerpiece of debate has been the proximity of the mosque to Ground Zero of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center Site on September 11, 2001. Matthew Moore, a senior Marketing major, reacted to this particular point, “It is not on ground zero, and it’s a community center not a mosque. This would otherwise be another empty building; it is going to be good from the community and the economy.” Many of the structures surrounding the building under scrutiny have remained empty and profitless since 2001.
Further disagreements on the creation of the community center date back to the foundation of the United States and religious rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Limah Taeb, a senior Biology major, commented, “People came to this country for religious freedom and that is what America was founded on. It’s ironic to me that it has become a problem in our country.”
Charlie Turner, president of the MSA, expressed his fears and hopes for the Islamic Center. “It needs to be built and offers a lot as a community center, it is more than just a mosque,” he said. “Hopefully, it will come through and be constructed without incident, but it has received so much crtiicism that that may not be possible.”
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