A common argument against the building of Cordoba House by opponents often involves some form of the question: why does it have to be built so close to Ground Zero? It is easy to sympathize and agree with the many people who are still reeling from 9/11, but the opposition to Cordoba House is part of an increasingly hostile atmosphere against Muslims in this country, so is there a way to meet the needs of both groups?
Coinciding with the debate over Cordoba House is an upswing in anti-Muslim sentiment throughout the U.S. From the vandalism of a mosque construction site in Tennessee, to the stabbing of a Muslim cab driver in New York, to the Dove World Outreach Center’s now canceled plan to burn 1,000 Qurans in Florida, the U.S. is experiencing a wave of anti-Muslim demonstrations. State of Belief host and Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy had a meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder and religious leaders of many faiths on September 7th to discuss this rise in attacks against Muslims. They asked the Attorney General to take action in speaking out against these attacks and provide protection for Muslims in the U.S.
This anti-Muslim sentiment makes institutions such as the Cordoba House an important solution to consider. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, in a recent op-ed, emphasizes the multifaith commitment of the project. He writes:
“At Cordoba House, we envision shared space for community activities, like a swimming pool, classrooms and a play space for children. There will be separate prayer spaces for Muslims, Christians, Jews and men and women of other faiths. The center will also include a multifaith memorial dedicated to victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.”
Can Cordoba House be a place to both heal from the attacks of 9/11 and a place to work against the growing anti-Muslim atmosphere, creating a better environment for the nation?
Written by Ms. Lynn Abe. Lynn is a recent graduate from Carleton College in Minnesota. She has a BA in religion with a concentration in Educational Studies. Lynn is interning at Interfaith Alliance fall 2010.