Little ground to stop the building of Islamic Centre

Little ground to stop the building of Islamic Centre

US needs to show it can move past 9/11 tragedy

Ground Zero, the site of the World Trade Centre before it was destroyed by terrorists, has become a centre of religious conflict in the United States. There have been angry protests against the proposed construction of an Islamic centre, known as Park51, near the place where more than 2,700 people died nine years ago.

It is easy to see why many Americans are so upset. The 9/11 tragedy is still a sensitive topic in the US. The terrorists who carried out the attacks practised Islam, so many believe the mosque should not be built near Ground Zero. It would be an insult to the victims of the attacks and their families, they say.

Prominent talk show host Glenn Beck and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin have criticised New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for allowing the centre to be built. Meanwhile, some protesters have even directed their anger at US President Barack Obama, whom many Americans mistakenly believe is a Muslim.

Tensions have been raised at home as well as abroad. The US is at war with two Islamic countries - Iraq and Afghanistan - while the Quran-burning controversy has added fuel to the fire.

However, it seems the situation has gone from dissent to blatant discrimination.

You wonder how this issue became so controversial in the first place.

You cannot see the mosque from Ground Zero. It is more than two blocks away from the site and has no links with Ground Zero, let alone the 9/11 attacks. So how can it be labelled as being insensitive towards the victims of the attacks?

According to a poll, 71 per cent of Americans believe building of the centre is inappropriate. However, 67 per cent said developers have the right to do so.

Americans should remember that terrorists bombed the World Trade Centre. If those terrorists had been Christian or Jewish, I doubt whether people would have objected to the construction of a church or a synagogue near Ground Zero.

Even if the majority of Americans do not support the development, they are ignoring one of the most important aspects of a democracy - the rule of law. The American constitution protects minority groups from any sort of discrimination.

As New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler said: "Everybody's liberty is at stake here." Bowing to the demands of the anti-Muslim lobby would simply mean a slide down a slippery slope.

Americans need to take a stand on behalf of American Muslims to protect everyone's rights.

I believe Park51 has to be built near Ground Zero. It should be there to represent the country's diversity and people's tolerance regardless of race, religion or gender.

It will also prove to the world that America can move past the events of September 11.

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