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Thursday, April 9, 2020

Columns

Park 51 should be a lesson to all


By now I’m sure most of you have heard of the proposal to build a community center that will house a mosque near Ground Zero. Park 51, which is located at 45 Park Place, doesn’t even have views of Ground Zero. President Barack Obama has spoken on the issue, expressing that is constitutional for a mosque to be built there.

Now, tension toward Muslims seems to be rising rapidly and dangerously. In Tennessee this past weekend, the construction equipment for a future mosque being built in the town of Murfreesboro was subject to an arson attack. When the leaders of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro gathered to inspect the damage the following Sunday, gunshots were heard near the area.

While it is not necessarily a good idea to build a mosque on Ground Zero, or anywhere near it for that matter – simply due to the insensitivity of the matter – it is still a constitutional right for Muslims to build a mosque or community center anywhere they see fit, including Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

While tensions are currently high towards Muslims, we have to remember two things. Firstly, we are a nation that prides ourselves on freedom, including that of religion, and to deny that to Muslims goes directly against the grain of what we stand upon morally. Secondly, the Muslims that want to build a mosque in Murfreesboro, as well as the group planning to construct a community center a few blocks away from Ground Zero, are not the same radical Islamic terrorists that were responsible for the attacks on 9/11. It is neither fair nor just for anyone to portray them as a scapegoat.

The organization behind Park 51 and the organization behind the Murfeesboro community center should have the right to build a place of worship that best suits them, just as we have the right to build a place of worship that best suits us.

One issue that is not brought up in most debates about Park 51 is that the whole reason for being located on Park Place is to better suit the Muslim community of New York City. Park 51 would greatly increase the accessibility of resources through the proposed community center and included mosque.

Currently NYC is home to only two mosques, neither of which have any relation to the community associated with Park 51.

While there have been would-be terrorists striking out against the mosque, there have also been people who have tried to promote tolerance, such as the people in Murfreesboro who responded to the attacks by having a candlelight vigil outside of the courthouse. These are the people after whom we should model ourselves; those who promote peace and tolerance over violence and terrorism. If we have issues, we need to take them up in a healthy discussion.

We need to keep these things in mind, especially here at the University. We live in an eclectic city, and that includes religious communities. There are at least seventeen mosques in the Houston area alone, according to the Islamic Society of Greater Houston website, www.isgh.org.

Most importantly, we need to be mindful and tolerant of those of different religions, whether they are Christian, Muslim, or Hindu. We need to be respectful of others, as they expect us to be because they are respectful of us. The nation should take a lesson from the city of Murfreesboro, and its people who advocate that we all learn to live together peacefully.

Ian Everett is a creative writing freshman and may be reached at [email protected]


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