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Unraveling the forces behind the NYC Mosque

A national outcry has erupted due to the Manhattan Mosque project, a cultural and community center slated for construction two blocks from the former site of the World Trade Center towers in New York City. Those in opposition to the project have been the most vocal, claiming that it is disrespectful and insensitive to build an Islamic mosque so close to a site where Islamic extremists caused the death of almost 3,000 people. Yet advocates of the project suggest that an essential part of the Constitution is the freedom to practice any religion, that protesters' arguments have no legal merit, and that this mosque has the potential to demonstrate America's capacity for religious tolerance.

Regardless of how the issue is viewed, there are numerous leadership themes threading their way through this complex story.

1. Religious leaders

Perhaps the most compelling example of leadership in this convoluted story came from leaders of various religions, including Jews, Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptists, Episcopalians, Mormons, Sufis, and Muslims. These leaders put their religious differences aside to issue a joint statement supporting the construction of the mosque. Their reasoning was simple: at one time or another, every faith has been "denied its right." Rather than continue the cycle, they argue, Americans of all faiths have the opportunity to be an example of religious tolerance for the rest of the world.

2. An ex-governor and future presidential hopeful

Although Sarah Palin no longer holds office, she is the de facto leader of the Republican party and has significant sway over public opinion, with over 225,000 twitter followers and a spot on FOX news. She couldn't resist jumping into the mosque fray, asking "peaceful Muslims" and New Yorkers to "refute" the proposed plan. More recently, Palin took on the AP, insisting that the project be referred to as the "Ground Zero Mosque", keeping her point of view in the headlines. Unfortunately, Palin's previous (and inaccurate) statements about the Constitution and Declaration of Independence being based on Judeo-Christian beliefs may undercut her argument that the mosque location is simply insensitive.

3. A blogger

In an effort to trace the origins of the controversy, Salon.com found that a blogger by the name of Pamela Geller incited the masses when she criticized the Muslim community for a lack of sensitivity in her Atlas Shrugs blog. She uses some fairly incendiary language and claims the project "is Islamic domination and expansionism." Presumably because the mosque will be tall and rectangular (as most NYC building are), Geller also suggests the mosque design "is a mockery of the World Trade Center building design." Geller leads the group Stop Islamization of America, which launched a very successful public relations campaign against the mosque and succeeded in getting the story published in larger media outlets. She continues to play a leadership role in this controversy, working to further frame the issue through her worldview.

4. 9/11 families

The entire controversy stems from the idea that building a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero would be insensitive to victims' families. Very few family members have spoken out, and those who have are equally divided on whether the mosque should be built in its planned location. Only time will tell whether a leader will emerge from these families and help develop a unified voice, either for or against the project.

5. The imam

Feisal Abdul Rauf is the imam who spearheaded the mosque project. Rauf has been widely criticized in public forums, yet a recent article examining his life find that the charges levied against him are unfounded. In fact, Rauf is often asked by the US State Department to deliver the message that Muslims can integrate into American society. His message has largely been one of reconciliation, and in a recent interview Rauf spoke specifically about the alignment between the principles the Declaration of Independence and the core tenants of Islam. But the question remains: can Rauf help foster any common ground between supporters and opposition to his Mosque project?

It will be interesting to see how this controversy plays out, who steps to the forefront, and whether any leader can bridge the divide created by such an inflamed topic. Let us know what you think.

Have an idea for what we should write about next? Be in touch at info@menoconsulting.com or visit us at Meno Consulting.  

By Joe Frontiera  |  August 23, 2010; 11:29 AM ET  | Category:  Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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The community supports building the Park51 community center on the site of the former Burlington Coat Factory on Park Place.

Outside agitators, spewing hate and intolerance, are opposing this center.

This center will enrich the community. It is modeled on a Jewish Community Center further uptown, which serves the community with many programs. Yes, there will be rooms where Muslims can pray in this center.

The community supports the Constitution and would like outside agitators and hate mongers to go away.

Posted by: bethechangeyouwant | August 25, 2010 5:41 PM

Its silly to glorify the Berber conquest of Spain - when they faced real warriors in France they ran back to Spain as fast as they could.
They main concern in France was to rape and pillage and historians note that one of the reasons it was so easy for the Franks to slaughter them is because they were more concerned about their loot than protecting their fellow muslim warrior.

Posted by: agapn9 | August 25, 2010 1:24 PM

The Cordoba Initiative [park51]was all about memorializing islamic conquest in the 8th century.
___________
That is ridiculous. Cordoba was names because it was a city of enlightenment that ultimatley allowed houses of worship of all three Abrahamic faiths. To say the it memorializes 8th century conquest is absurd. If you knew the leader and the congrigation you would never say such a thind.Perhaps that is the issue, you know nothing about the real group advocating the religious center. As to "They are not about healing not with the atrocities that happen in thier respective countries on a regular basis.", More moderate muslims have been killed by Al Quaeda in Iraq, Aphganistan and Pakistan than were killed in 9/11. WE are all fighty terror, not Islam. Also please speak to the emdemic "attrocities" in the more than 50 majority muslin countries like Moracco, Egypt, Chad, Thailand, Albania, etc. Virtually none.

Posted by: cadam72 | August 25, 2010 11:43 AM

Some are suggesting an interfaith mosque. I have news for you. Although there are similarities between Christianity and Islam, they worship different Gods! They are NOT compatible, and any claim that they are is spoken in ignorance.
An interfaith system works as long as the religions have the same basic faith. The Catholic church and protestant denominations at least use the same Bible as their source. Islam is another world intent upon dominating the world...and by force, if that's necessary to accomplish its end.

POSTED BY: 1NOURI:
It is time for those fascists, extremists right wingers and their allies the Neocons and Tea party conservatives to realise that American Muslims are not asking to build a drug warehouse or a brothel but a place for worship and where others non Muslims are invited to celebrate diversity, promote mutual respect and accept tolerance.


Sorry, pal, but you're either speaking out of ignorance as to the intentions of Islam...OR you simply WANT America to fall completely. BTW, YOU'RE the one calling names, Mr. Non-Prejudiced. Your "accept[ing] tolerance" will GIVE the U.S. into the hands of Islam. Start reading for a change instead of making bandwagon decisions, eh? It appears YOU are too blinded by YOUR hatred for anything right-wing to see the facts! This leaves you no room to speak as though you support diversity.

Posted by: flipper49 | August 25, 2010 10:23 AM

Let it be a true interfaith institution, and not an exclusively Islamic one.
It could have 1/3 Islamic, 1/3 Christian and Jewish and 1/3 other religions represented.
That WOULD be healing. But will it happen? I fear not. The proponents of the mosque are too sure of themselves.
Posted by: rohit57 | August 24, 2010 4:02 PM
______________________

Christians in name only, not Biblical Christians, not Biblical Christians, but those like Jim Wallis, cultural christians, not followers of Jesus Christ, followers of a religion that they have created for their own purposes, which includes power and money, may worship with those who worship "another god," BUT THOSE who have been born again, of the Spirit of the Living God, would NEVER worship with those who worship Lucifer. The Bible says, "Have nothing to do with those whose deeds are done in darkness." True Christians would never worship with those who follow the teachings of a god that calls them to "deceive." Satan, Lucifer, the god of this world, the father of lies, the destroyer are names which the Bible refers to as the "evil one." Allah fits those names as he teaches his followers to "deceive" "lie" "destroy."

Posted by: ladyliberty1 | August 25, 2010 9:53 AM


Thought this would be of interest to readers.

Since September 2001 I have maintained the "9/11 list-serv" which distributes daily e-mails containing newspaper articles and other relevant information re: 9/11 issues of interest to 9/11 families, 9/11 organizations and interested individuals.

The 9/11 List-serv archives can be accessed at http://groups.google.com/group/911-list-serv

If you would like to 'subscribe' to this free news service - send an e-mail to amkorotkin@aol.com with the word "subscribe" in the subject box.


Arnie

Posted by: arnoldkorotkin | August 25, 2010 9:05 AM

It is time for those fascists, extremists right wingers and their allies the Neocons and Tea party conservatives to realise that American Muslims are not asking to build a drug warehouse or a brothel but a place for worship and where others non Muslims are invited to celebrate diversity, promote mutual respect and accept tolerance.
It is an insult to every US citizen to be dicated to by a non significant minority where to pray and where to build a religious temple even though it is not against the law.
It is within the right of every US citizen to practise his religious rights without intimidation, harassement or threats and I do not need to remind these idiots and ignorant what the constitution has to say on this exact point.
These American Muslims are not guilty of any crime and deserve to be treated with respect like any other US citizens and to be left in peace getting on with their lives and if anyone see any legal reason for them not to have their Mosque being built, let them contact the local authorities and inform them about the objections for these US citizens to fulfill what the constitution has given them as a right.

Posted by: 1Nouri | August 25, 2010 8:45 AM

The Cordoba Initiative [park51]was all about memorializing islamic conquest in the 8th century. They are not about healing not with the atrocities that happen in thier respective countries on a regular basis.If an American tried to get into Mecca or Medina they would kill us on the spot!They hate us so called infidels! Mosques are used for recruiting centers and rally points for terror cells! Wake up America they are trying to crumble us from within!What kind of religion says its OK to kill 3000 innocent people?

Posted by: wwxyz14 | August 24, 2010 11:00 PM

How nice. Fully 8 commentators, and all agree with each other that those who disagree with the placement of the mosk are un-American and enemies of the republic. This is the self-appointed "intelligentsia" trying to ram their opinions down the throats of the 63% of Americans who are against the mosk. Well, how could we peasants possibly disagree with these refined individuals who know everything better than anybody else? Up yours, jointly and severally.

Posted by: RichardHode | August 24, 2010 8:07 PM

I do find a little odd that with 68% of the US population saying that they oppose the mosque you could not find ANY commentators who share this view with the American people?

I do have another suggestion. Let it be a true interfaith institution, and not an exclusively Islamic one.

It could have 1/3 Islamic, 1/3 Christian and Jewish and 1/3 other religions represented.

That WOULD be healing. But will it happen? I fear not. The proponents of the mosque are too sure of themselves.

Posted by: rohit57 | August 24, 2010 4:02 PM

To dkolb - Funny, I thought it was their soil too. Does being Muslim mean you are not American?

Posted by: Vocatus | August 24, 2010 2:37 PM

This a bogus article -http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129327395

mentions only one christian leader and talk about 71 others in California. I used to live in California - we have almost no Islamic presence in California - they don't know about the slavery, the weekly beheadings, the periodic stonings, the marriage/consemmation of girl children to adults, Sharia, female abuse, the Saudi princesses coming over here and have 7, 8, and 9 children. In a word they are fat, dumb, and happy. To use them as an example is silly.

Besides there is no need to build another Mosque in the area - THERE IS A MOSQUE SIX BLOCKS AWAY. Its the height of insensivity.

Posted by: agapn9 | August 24, 2010 2:33 PM

I do believe that they have the right to build and pray as well as the right to be aware how this is being recieved. If I where in the middle east and some told me that me actions where offensive to people then i would stop whatever I was doing not
tell them on their soil that I have the
right to do this.

Posted by: dkolb | August 24, 2010 2:08 PM

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