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The Blue & Gray Press | February 18, 2018

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Opposing Viewpoints: Blocking Islamic community center is a disgusting violation of religious tolerence

By BRIAN AURICCHIO
Columnist

The earth gradually turns towards a new dawn, and as the sun pierces the New York skyline with unprecedented vitality, light moves down Lady Liberty’s face, reminding us of the very principles that have created a collective American experience. Perhaps the freedom she has promised hasn’t always been truthful, but a new burden of intolerance and ignorance begins to question her sincerity.

No American has forgotten the tragedies of Sept. 11, 2001; however, allowing this event to justify racial bigotry and impudent hatred is self-indulgent dogmatism and arrogance. Were there not innocent Muslim Americans killed in those towers? Did their families not feel the pain the way the rest of us did? Let us not attack the Islamic religion, nor apply responsibility to many, based on the actions of a few.

The true enemy is Al-Qaeda and may justice be served swiftly on behalf of their actions. There is no justice in condemning an entire religion based on gross distortions of Islam.

Muslim Americans participate in the same civic actions as the rest of us. To deny their right to build a house of worship, a right Americans have fought and died for, is simply un-American.

This is not a thirteen-story mosque, but a community center welcoming all New Yorkers, including a culinary school, as well as basketball courts and other areas for recreational use.

Of the thirteen stories, the top two stories will be centers for Islamic prayer. We are turning to our own neighbors with the self-righteous audacity to tell them they cannot build on private land as they choose.

We cannot support this disgusting violation of basic human rights. If we do not allow Muslim Americans to build this mosque, where is the line to end this racial bias? This is not a breeding ground for Islamic militant terrorists. This is not a beacon of victory for Al-Qaeda. In fact, you can hardly see Ground Zero from the community center.

There is already a mosque four blocks away from ground zero. Should that be removed as well? While we’re at it, why don’t we remove all mosques from the five boroughs of New York, or how about the entire state?

Islamophobia has taken a firm hold of our rationale.

According to a Time Magazine poll, 61% of Americans oppose the mosque being built in Manhattan. It seems that the Red Scare is no longer engraved in the minds of Americans, so we are once again ready to recreate publicly accepted prejudice and fear.

Already this mosque is turning into a political event. Republicans are questioning the silence of Democrats, while Democrats are questioning the tolerance of Republicans. Are there not larger issues that should take precedence? The War on Terror and our failing economy is worthy of such attention.

Keith Olbermann questions if Americans know why we invaded Iraq in the first place. Was it not our original intention to protect the Iraqi people from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein? We are sacrificing American lives to protect this predominantly Muslim population, while they can scarcely call themselves citizens on the domestic front.

The contradictions in US foreign policy are blatant, but this unjust Islamophobia inhibits the questioning of our true motives.

We have quickly forgotten that our ancestors, less than two generations ago, faced the same type of discrimination Muslim Americans must now endure. The majority of us have gradually fallen under the category of white, while those who do not fit the mold face the tribulations of racism.

The once oppressed have turned into the oppressors, losing any sympathies they might have had. Let us revitalize American equality with vigilance towards these injustices.