Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
-U.S. Constitution – First Amendment
I live in one of the greatest city’s in the world. New York City is one of the most diverse, culturally rich city’s, next to Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. At the turn of the 20th Century, immigrants from all over the world paid their respects to Ellis Island in hopes of a better life and dreams of opportunity. No matter what creed, race, or nationality. NYC was a city that you had to make your way to before you migrated to other parts of the country. Or, stay and develop a way of life to provide for your family and community. The “so-called” United States was founded by ex-patriots to find religious freedom and to escape the treacherous dictators and imperialism that extended countries like France, Britain, and Spain. Yet, some of our founding fathers felt the need to enslave Africans to help establish this new country via commerce and trade to develop a new identity called the 13 Colonies. It was in these new states that a group of men decided to create a doctrine that would help those who were tired of dealing with their former lives to begin a new found freedom. The Constitution of the United States was drafted out of a need to define how people could live under a democratic and orderly life.
Over the last month and a half, the city has been the hotbed of one most controversial issues that’s already divided the country. In fact, I’ve seen New Yorkers show their true colors in the last week on their take on religious views as well as how race hasn’t changed much since the beginning of slavery. For New York to be so diverse as it is; the mentality of some of my fellow New Yorkers, as well as people across the country, have exhibited pure racist and backward fanatic thinking.
The Park 51 Islamic Cultural Center, which was approved by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission to be built in lower Manhattan, is generating a backlash of critics to the tune of both the G.O.P and democrats divided on the issue.
Feisal Abdul Rauf, founder, CEO and Executive Director of the Cordoba Initiative, will oversee the 13-story Islamic center which will include a mosque that will hold up to 2,000 worshipers. The new facility is just 500 feet from Ground Zero where radical Islamic terrorists destroyed the twin towers on September 11th, 2001.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg supports the building of the new mosque. In a speech he gave the day after the Landmarks Preservation Commission gave Park 51 the green light he adds:
“We have come here to Governors Island to stand where the earliest settlers first set foot in New Amsterdam, and where the seeds of religious tolerance were first planted. We’ve come here to see the inspiring symbol of liberty that, more than 250 years later, would greet millions of immigrants in the harbor, and we come here to state as strongly as ever – this is the freest City in the world. That’s what makes New York special and different and strong.
Our doors are open to everyone – everyone with a dream and a willingness to work hard and play by the rules. New York City was built by immigrants, and it is sustained by immigrants – by people from more than a hundred different countries speaking more than two hundred different languages and professing every faith. And whether your parents were born here, or you came yesterday, you are a New Yorker.
We may not always agree with every one of our neighbors. That’s life and it’s part of living in such a diverse and dense city. But we also recognize that part of being a New Yorker is living with your neighbors in mutual respect and tolerance. It was exactly that spirit of openness and acceptance that was attacked on 9/11.”
This is the very thing our county was founded on. The right to practice religion freely without prejudice and restrictions. Unfortunately, New Yorkers and the country have forgotten this. What’s even more striking, is you have Christians and the religious right that is opposed to mosque. As a Baptist, I was raised biblically to understand the power of forgiveness. Something most “so-called” followers of any religion aren’t practicing. Matthew 5:44-45 states:
“But I tell you; Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you
may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and
the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous.”
The terrorist attacks on 9/11 has been extremely tough on New Yorkers and the country. But what I have a problem with is how the Bush Administration torridly coined the term “war on terror.” It applied to all those who practice Islam. Muslims were now deemed “the evil ones.” As I last recalled, Al Qaida was an extremist terrorist group or network that believed Allah called them to perform acts of violence that pose a threat to Islam or their beliefs. Those who practice Islam would tell you that’s against their belief and faith. Muslims practice the Five Pillars of Islam that involve reading and studying the Qur’an based on the Prophet of Islam Muhammad’s teachings. Nowhere does the Qur’an stress nor indicate bodily harm or murder to people. Read and research it for yourself. President Bush generalized Islam into Al Qaida and called them the “unnecessary evil.” So, for almost the last decade, the media has painted a negative picture of those who practice Islam both here and abroad. We still have some ignorant people who believe President Barack Obama is a Muslim. Obama made the statement last week that the mosque’s location “is not an issue for us.”
This new form of “Islamophobia” seems to be somewhat hypocritical because I can remember some terrorist events that were caused by radical and extremist christian groups here in the states. I don’t ever recall any christian groups opposing not building a memorial or place of worship when Timothy McVeigh detonated a truck bomb at the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City back in 1995. McVeigh killed 168 people at the time and wanted to lead a revolt against the federal government. Or, how about a memorial commemorating David Koresh and the Branch Davidians that killed 54 adults and 21 children in a 51 day siege. These extremists committed acts of terrorism like the victims of 9/11, but the media and former administration has put Al Qaida and all Muslims on the “hit-list.” Muslims, like Mormons, Catholics, Baptists, and atheists have the same religious rights protected by the constitution. What’s sad is we have a system of ignorance thats allowed politics, racism, and sexism thats stripped away their freedoms. Also, how no one has tried to explain how these radical sects continue to generate more negative press for those who practice the Islamic faith.
I have forgiven the members of Al Qaida for their acts of destruction on September 11th, 2001. It’s been almost ten years and I’ve moved on and learned a valuable lesson from this. The sad thing is that ignorance and hate have surfaced instead tolerance and understanding. The very principle Jesus lived by is the one element that the country and world cast upon those of the Islamic faith. Let’s turn the other cheek and forgive them. Remember, the book of Romans chapter 2 verse1 in the New Testament states: “Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgement, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.”
Revolution Will Be Televised,
The Pace Report