Park51 is unwelcome

Controversial Islamic center/mosque shouldn't be built

By on September 15, 2010

This past weekend, Quinnipiac and the nation marked the 9th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Although the duration of time since has been long, the void left unfilled by the tragic murder of these 3,000 innocent lives is perpetual in the hearts of loved ones, which includes many in the Quinnipiac community.

Following United Flight 175’s crash into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, America and the world learned that two loaded jetliners did not accidentally fly into these Towers filled with vibrant, resourceful, and brave Americans. 9/11 was the work of radical Islamists, including the 19 hijackers, the Taliban who gave them haven, support from global private and clandestine sources, and Al-Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden.

After the attack, President Bush vowed revenge on the terrorists and those who harbored them, but also distinguished Islam and ordinary Muslims from the terrorists who murdered 3000 people. I concur with most Americans that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful people. I fervently disagree with those who would label all Muslims responsible for 9/11, or decree that all mosques are breeding grounds for terrorism. Likening mosques in general to Nazi shrines, as Newt Gingrich’s comment has, is wrong and hateful. I call on him to “refudiate” (Sarah Palin-style) that comment.

However, to deny that there is a small but sizeable yet potent portion of Muslims who seek transnational caliphate under Sharia-based law, religious freedom abolished, women’s and gay rights curtailed, and an ideologically vanguard political order, accomplished through violence against “infidels,” is to deny reality. Islamist terrorism is the world’s greatest danger today, being responsible for deadly attacks on every inhabited continent, with deadlier attacks more widespread than other ideological terrorisms. The actors seek similar ends, acting not only in US allied countries, such as Britain, Spain, Jordan, and Egypt, but also in countries which have little to no connection with US foreign policy or Israel, such as Sudan, Algeria, Indonesia, Russia, and China.

Recently, businessman and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, has come under fire regarding his planned Park51 project, a 13 story mosque and cultural center two blocks from Ground Zero. Rauf has attempted portray himself as a moderate who opposes radicalism. However, his words and opinions call into question his “moderation,” and thus sensitivity for the victims of September 11, their families, friends, and their compatriots.

Shortly after 9/11, Osama bin Laden declared “God has blessed a group of vanguard Muslims, the forefront of Islam, to destroy America,” and then justified attacks on the West with the then-80 year old decline of the Ottoman Caliphate. However, instead of blaming radical Islamist ideology for September 11, Rauf chose to blame the victim first, America, as an “accessory” to the mere “crime” “that happened.” What is disturbing is that Rauf clearly ignores bin Laden’s stated reasons for masterminding September 11. When bin Laden declared war on America in 1996, his top two stated reasons that it was “God’s order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it” were American presence in Saudi Arabia following Iraqi threats, and US-led sanctions on Iraq following Desert Storm. Although sanctions likely prevented Saddam Hussein’s acquisition of WMDs, Rauf morally equalizes them to Al-Qaeda. Clearly, bin Laden was not “made in the USA,” as Rauf claims. Although America armed Afghan resistance to Communist occupation, there is no proof that Osama himself received American support nor was he among the indigenous Afghan groups the US used to help bring down the Evil Empire. Although America failed to help stabilize post-Soviet Afghanistan, we did not spawn the Taliban or “make” Osama.

Aside from blaming America for 9/11, when confronted with pressing issues, he dances around the question more than Michael Jackson danced around stage with a hand on his crotch. His response to Western concerns about Sharia law, a legal system typically accompanied by stoning adulterers, hanging homosexuals, punitive amputation, leniency for honor killings, a requirement of four male witnesses to prove a woman’s rape, oppression of non-Muslims, and death sentences for converting from Islam, falls flat. Sharia was the law in pre-2001 Afghanistan, and currently is in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Somalia, Gaza, amongst other Gulf/North African countries. Even in countries which don’t practice full Sharia, the legal codes of Syria, Egypt, amongst other Muslim countries incorporate many harsh aspects of Sharia. Rauf’s indifference toward this brutality is best displayed in a Huffington Post opinion piece, entitled “What Shariah Law Is All About.” Rauf briefly mentions these things in the first paragraph, but spends the next six paragraphs attempting to liken Sharia to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Gee, I didn’t know the Founding Fathers would have stoned Benjamin Franklin (The identity of his love child’s mother is unknown, but I hope she was prettier than Monica!) Not coincidentally, radical Islamists, from Indonesia to North Africa have sought to implement Sharia wherever they seek power.

Another typical tome from Rauf is that America’s unpopularity in the Muslim world stems from her “support for dictators and tyrants” in the Middle East. Imam Rauf’s blatant hypocrisy manifests itself in another HuffPo piece suggesting Obama proclaim support for the principles of the illegitimate, despotic, and anti-American Iranian regime following the stolen 2009 election. Nowhere was a denunciation of this fixed contest to be found. While critical of the US for supporting various Middle East leaders, he fails to address the lack of viable secular democratic alternatives. Directly in contradiction to the US State Dept, Rauf also refuses to call the terrorist organization Hamas as such, despite its undeniably “tyrannical” rule in Gaza. Why did Nidal Hasan shoot up Fort Hood again? Imam Rauf’s support for a one-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians, in other words, the elimination of the Jewish State, meshes quite well with Hamas, Hezbollah, bin Laden, and other extremists.

Furthermore, would any sensible person build a 13 story Serb Orthodox Church in Bosniak regions of Bosnia, a 13 story Shinto shrine near Pearl Harbor, or for that matter, a 13 story McDonalds in My Lai? If Pat Robertson attempted to build a 13 story giga-church near the site of an abortion clinic bombing, I would oppose such a project. However, just as I don’t believe for a minute that most Muslims laud 9/11, I also don’t believe most Serbs laud Srebrenica, most Japanese laud their actions in WWII, most evangelicals condone clinic bombings, or that most Americans are happy about Vietnam. The aforementioned examples would simply rub the identity of the perpetrators in the victim’s faces, as would Park51 at this Hallowed Ground.

Therefore, it is no wonder polls have consistently shown that the vast majority of Americans oppose this divisive attempt to “build bridges,” and believe it should be moved. Yet, given Rauf’s extreme views, it is obvious that only one such as Rauf, who minimizes, rationalizes, and justifies Islamist extremism, and blames America for 9/11, would build a 13 story mosque deliberately so close to where those acting in the name of Islam killed nearly 3000 Americans for being American. He won’t consider moving it, declining Gov. Paterson’s offer of state land. In turn, Rauf, his supporters, and the talking heads have attempted to make the issue one of religious freedom by depicting opponents as “racist bigots.” Indeed, to deny the constitutional right to build a mosque is un-American. However, given that roughly the same amount of people support the legal right to build the mosque, the attempt to change subjects rings hollow. Prominent Muslims have spoken out against Park51, including board members of the Muslim Canadian Congress, Akbar Ahmed, chair of Islamic studies at American University, Abdul Al-Rashid, chairman Al-Arabiya TV, and Gamal Abd Al-Gawad, director of Cairo-based Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.

Defenders have claimed Park51 isn’t a mosque, despite the mosque planned for inside, to be used for both five times a day prayer and weekly sermons. I doubt anyone is missing work to go play basketball five times a day. However, they miss the point: it’s not about just any mosque; it’s about this mosque. The two smaller and older mosques nearby yet further from Ground Zero already accommodate the small Muslim community in the area. When supporters liken Park51 to building a church in Oklahoma City, again they miss the point: McVeigh didn’t expressly act as a Christian, whereas the 9/11 perpetrators expressly acted in their religion’s name.

America, the last best hope of man on Earth, is a nation of courage, liberty, and tolerance. America is not “Islamophobic:” most Americans oppose Park51 for its size, location and builder’s views, not because of a hate of Islam or Muslims. America’s aid to the Muslim world includes liberating Kuwait from Saddam, stopping genocide in Bosnia and Kosovo, and liberating Afghanistan from the Taliban. Polls show most Americans would not object to a mosque/Islamic center near their home. Opposition to Park51 transcends partisan, geographical, and racial lines, rendering cries of “racism” as mere left-wing blather, similar to right-wingers who label all they oppose as “communism.” To the small contingent which does use racist epithets against Muslims, attacks Muslims for simply being Muslim, vandalizes mosques, or protests all mosques as “terror havens,” you don’t represent me, the vast majority of those who oppose Park51, or America. Your company in this debate is unwelcome. However, to Imam Rauf, your radical views, your refusal to discuss Park51’s funding, and blaming America for September 11 reflects your insensitivity for those who fell with our Towers and thus the bad faith in which you act. We the people, including myself, say Park51 is unwelcome.


About Andrew Timothy


  1. RJ

    September 15, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    EXCELLENT and amongst the most comprehensive explanations against the GZM I’ve seen, given the liberals who give jihadism a free pass and the Palins/Gingriches who blanket label all Muslims.

  2. Danielle

    September 15, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    Do you believe in religious freedom? You tea-partiers really make me laugh

  3. Wrenn

    September 15, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    It’s not a mosque. It’s a community center. And they are Sufis, not ‘jihadists’.

    You also had lovely quote shifting there too. Every time I see partial phrases in quotes, my BS alert goes off. I suggest people go and look for themselves, at the whole of the commentary not parts that are quoted in either the conservative or the liberal media. Going back to the source is always a good idea.

    So you say that it’s not okay for a Sufi muslim community (and by that, the best definition would be ‘new age hippy muslims’ ) can’t try to build a community center 2 blocks north of the WTC campus (which puts it 5-6 blocks north of the twin towers, which were at the southern edge of the campus) in the community of muslims that have been in lower Manhattan since before the WTC attacks, some since before the WTC was even built, But… it’s okay to let what is being actually being built ON Ground Zero.

    So. another poll? THIS is the poll I want to see

    “Is it okay to build a 2 story underground shopping center AT Ground Zero?”

    “Is it okay to build 6 high rise commercial office towers AT Ground Zero?”

    “Is it okay to build a performing arts center AT Ground Zero?”

    “Is it okay to build a museum AT Ground Zero… with a memorial garden?”

    All of which are in the process of being built. At Ground Zero.

    In a couple of years, it will be just fine to pick up your Starbucks, a new pair of pants, new shoes and your latte AT Ground Zero, before you go to a play you’re paying a couple hundred to see. But there just cannot be an interfaith community center organized and run by muslims 2 city blocks north.

  4. Semolina

    September 15, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    Park51 is not a 13-story mosque. It will be community center similar to the 92 St. Y. Current plans call for less than 10 percent of the facility to serve as prayer space.

    Your comment about playing basketball five times a day is silly. Lower Manhattan is the fastest-growing residential area in New York City, and the need for facilities like a gym is very real for the 64,000 people who live here.

    When you object to the size, you are objecting to amenities open to all faiths.

    The people who want to build Park51 have been in lower Manhattan for 27 years, and have caused no problems. That’s more than I can say for the people who object to Park51.

    It is ironic that on 9/11 our neighborhood was made unbearable by protests against people who want to make our neighborhood better.

  5. C. Tyrel

    September 16, 2010 at 12:40 am

    I would urge all people to read about Taqiyya. That is the direction to lie to all infidels, if it advances the goals of islam. Take a look at what islam is doing in Europe and other parts of the world. This is not a religion of peace. It is about submission of all infidels go islam. Non muslims are infidels. We need to address the threat of islam the way we have addressed the threat of communism and other threats to American laws and freedoms. Islam’s goal is to dominate and to force the world to surrender to islam. Not all muslims are terrorists. However, all terrorists are muslims. Liberals, women, homosexuals, Christians, Jews, Hindu and so on are all despised by muslims and as such can be murdered in the name of allah the god of islam. God bless America.

  6. John

    September 16, 2010 at 7:22 am

    Mr. Timothy, along with the talking heads of the ‘Christian’ right, is complicit in the absurd association of modern, mainstream American Muslims with those who committed the terrorist acts of 9/11. “I know you guys aren’t them, but we don’t want anyone like you around here.” Nazis were Christians. Timothy McVeigh was a Christian. The Salem witch hunters were Christians. Does that matter to any of us? Would that ever lead anyone to say that a Church may not be built in proximity to any spot anywhere? I don’t think so. Why? Because I’m a rational person who understands that there is no connection between those people, and my neighbors. But I bet I could take stray quotes from several of Mr. Timothy’s writings to make it seem like he sympathizes with Timothy McVeigh. It’s classless and irresponsible.

    Furthermore, what’s amazing about being an American is that even though I may not be welcome to move to your block, I can still do it. And hopefully at some point in the future, you’ll realize how miserably wrong you were to try and alienate me.

    • Andrew Timothy

      September 16, 2010 at 8:28 am

      thanks for the ad hominem attack, John, but where did I associate mainstream Muslims with terrorism? Rauf, the guy who wants to build this thing, is no mainstream Muslim. I went to great lengths to distance Muslims in general from radicals and Rauf. I explicitly stated how most Muslims are peaceful people who don’t support or condone terror and listed mainstream Muslims opposed to this thing. Yet Rauf has made public statements that are opposed to the mainstream Muslims.

      Also, you again make the ridiculous analogy between McVeigh and 9/11 terrorists. I also find it pathetic you have to go back 400 years to bring about anything close to these guys in Western society such as the Salem witch hunters.

      Your attempt to throw Nazis in there makes me think about two things:
      a. They were brutal against the church in their Germany and Europe, but
      b. the anti-semitism they peddled indeed drew on Christianity before the 1700s when anti-semitism moved from religious to racial grounds, and the Pope, knowing this, told the Carmelite nuns who wanted to build a convent at Auschwitz not to do it because of sensitivity, even though NOBODY EVER tried to dub all Catholics or Catholicism in general as responsible for Nazism.

      You also clearly missed how I explicitly said that if the Christian right, ie. Pat Robertson tried to do the same thing, like building a giga-church near the site of an abortion clinic bombing, which only he would do given his comments which seem to sympathize with them, I’d oppose it as much as I oppose this, and I’d think most liberals would too.

      I never thought I’d use the word “liberal” in this fashion, but people like you, who somehow bashes the Christian Right, but ignore the Islamic Right or pretend that its only something Republicans (not me, I’m a Scoop Jackson Democrat) talk about for political gain instead of being the global danger that it is, have really turned me away from liberalism. I’m not the only one. Your last paragraph shows your double-speak. Yes you’d be welcome to move to any block, but if you weren’t welcome, why would you do it? Maybe you can ask Feisal Rauf that question.

      • John

        September 16, 2010 at 2:42 pm

        I don’t accept your assertion that Rauf is anything other than someone interested in promoting interfaith dialogue. You mislead people with your quotes. It is true that Rauf is a Sufi, and not a true mainstream Muslim, but the distinction is irrelevant in this case. And I don’t think it’s a ridiculous statement to make that US involvement (whether just or not is another discussion) in the middle east played some role in the motivations of the terrorists of 9/11. To ignore this possibility is irrational and dangerous.

        How is the comparison with McVeigh ridiculous? Christian, zealot, lunatic, and idealogue…whose ideology stems from a perverse interpretation of his faith. Sounds about right on for the 9/11 bombers.

        And I’ll go and tell all the historians I know that they should stop what they’re doing because it’s useless and irrelevant. 9 years ago, 15 years ago, 100, 400, a thousand…it’s all relevant.

        And finally, with respect to Nazis and the terrorists, the comparison is simply an association. Obviously the terrorists don’t care about anyone, Muslim or otherwise. They assert their own superiority over all others.

  7. Semolina

    September 16, 2010 at 9:45 am

    Further thoughts on your piece. You state:

    “The two smaller and older mosques nearby yet further from Ground Zero already accommodate the small Muslim community in the area”

    Can you cite a credible source for this claim? Many Muslims who attend prayer services in the area work here. Both mosques say they need more space; in fact, the Burlington Coat Factory building has been used as prayer space for a year now.

    Does anyone know how many Muslims work in the area? If not, why do you feel confident making this claim? Would you make a similar pronouncement about Methodists if John St. UMC decided to expand?

    Is it wrong for people to attend religious services close to their work? Catholic, Episcopal, Jewish and United Methodist people do this in my neighborhood. For example, John St. UMC’s “Wonderful Wall Street Wednesday” program seems specifically aimed at people who work here (it is a midday program).

    Speaking of our local religious community, are you aware that several local religious leaders support Park51? What makes you think you know more about the matter than someone who operates a church directly across the street from the WTC site?

    II ask because I am amazed at how everyone in the world is suddenly an expert on my neighborhood.

    Finally, you use the term “Hallowed Ground.” Can you define the area that is “hallowed”? My apartment is closer to the site of the WTC towers than Park51 will be. Is my home “hallowed”? Do you therefore claim the right to tell me what I can and cannot do in my home?

    If you are going to call the area “Hallowed” (with a capital H, no less) you have an obligation to specify precisely what that means.

    Can we use this “Hallowed” business to stop tourists buying knockoff handbags from illegal vendors directly across the street from the WTC site? Can we stop public urination in the alley beside my apartment building? Can we tone down the rowdiness spilling out of bars in the area?

    Maybe I’m missing something, but I think prayer a more suitable activity for “Hallowed Ground” than public urination, drunkenness and trademark violation.

  8. Caleb Gindl

    September 16, 2010 at 10:23 am

    When I come to read The Chronicle, I don’t expect to read such demagoguery. For shame.

    • hahah

      September 16, 2010 at 8:32 pm

      if you want hammer and sickle leftism, go to QuadNews. This article is a breath of fresh air, no Republican or Democrat leaning, he’s got more principle than a school district.

  9. John M.

    September 17, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    For the best interest of the nation, it would not hurt to move The “park51” can be placed somewhere else. This way both sides win because the people who want this center will have there place to worship and it will be farther away from the WTC site so feeling will not be hurt.

    We all must remember that religious freedom is a beautiful thing, which is will the greatest weapon towards Islamic extremism. But we cannot upset the vast majority of America who express dissent of “park 51”. So that is why compromises need to be made.

  10. Stefan

    September 17, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    If you had any concept of history or theology, you’d understand that Sufi Muslims are traditionally the most mystical and peaceful sect of Islam. To suggest that Sufis are “jihadists” is essentially akin to suggesting Unitarian Universalists are responsible for abortion clinic bombings.

    Moreover, as someone else pointed out, it’s a community center, no a mosque. The amount of misinformation surrounding this entire issue is really disgusting. If you don’t allow the community center to be built, you are essentially suggesting that the terrorists are right in their assessment of the United States – a country that’s ran by corrupt far right wing Christian nutjobs. Unfortunately, the author of the article and the rest off the tea party crazies probably wouldn’t be too upset if that were the case.

    • TonyRockyHorror

      September 17, 2010 at 7:41 pm

      Stefan, I didn’t know that 63%+ of Americans are in the Tea Party!! Some fuzzy math u got there.

      • Yonder

        September 23, 2010 at 3:40 pm

        didn’t you know that to liberals, American’s opinions don’t matter? They know best, they’re elite!

  11. David Smith

    September 18, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    What happened to respect for private property rights?

    • BeerPartyPatriot

      September 20, 2010 at 1:36 am

      no one is disputing the Imam’s legal right to build his mega-mosque. But what happened to respect for those who perished on September 11, 2001? Did you read the article or are you some liberal straight of the blogosphere woodwork? This article hearkens back to the great American values on which America was founded: hate of evil, love of country, and appreciation for freedom.

      • Kara

        October 1, 2010 at 12:45 am

        You can’t simultaneously acknowledge a right and then ask your government to suppress it. The Burlington Coat factory is private property. Those who want to build on it are private citizens. They are violating no law in wanting to build a community center. Under what authority do you propose that people stop them from exercising their rights? There is no “unless you’re a Muslim within X yards of a national tragedy exception” to the free exercise of religion.

        • Mr. Derp

          October 1, 2010 at 1:03 am

          who introduced legislation to make building a mosque at Ground Zero illegal? NOBODY. Not a single representative or senator ever tried that. As Ronald Reagan said, whom the article quoted TWICE, there you go again, trying to make this about religious freedom, which its not about. However, people do have a right to ask their elected representatives to morally oppose this distasteful statement the jihadist Imam wants to make.

  12. Jane

    September 18, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    Please learn to write. Your grammar is atrocious and you don’t seem to understand how commas work (to say nothing of the content).

  13. MGC

    September 21, 2010 at 10:30 am

    I thought your piece was wonderful very few media outlets on both sides of the aisle have explained there positions or countered opposing arguments beyod name calling and frothing idealogical outrage i particularly liked your comparitive situational appropriatness. i plan on citing you in an essay im writing.

  14. MGC

    September 21, 2010 at 10:38 am

    I thought your piece was well crafted and level headed it is the most rational commentary on the controversy i have observed so far i will cite you in an essay im writing great job.

  15. Rob

    May 8, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Now that we see how the death of Osama hasn’t been as universally celebrated in the Muslim world as it has been in the Western world, should we really allow the Ground Zero Mosque to go forward?

  16. Katherine

    September 11, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    I hope today makes those who support this building to reconsider. 10 years since freedom itself was attacked. Yet the scumbag imam still wants to desecrate the hallowed area.