Copyright © 2003-2011, Aishah Schwartz. Permission granted to circulate among private individuals, groups, or in not-for-profit publications in full text and subject title. All other rights reserved.

August 21, 2010

Park 51 Organizers Missed Opportunity to Promote Tolerance and Understanding

Perhaps it is time for members of the Muslim community to own some of the responsibility for the lack of tolerance and bigotry hurled against them. It's not too late.


PRLog (Aug. 21, 2010) – If Park 51 decision makers within the Cordoba Initiative and the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA), had used a moral compass based on the principle of compassion so highly touted in the Islamic faith, as a guide in making the location decision for their cultural center of understanding, peace and harmony, the nation would not be in the uproar it is today.

They could have taken the high road.

The history of the site, formerly the Burlington Coat Factory, in relation to 9/11, was a known fact. It had been grazed and was heavily damaged by one of the jet liners that crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center; information that substantiates the confrontational nature of the choice made when purchasing the property.

Information that has now been exploited for the benefit of raising the $100 million needed to complete the 13-story cultural center and mosque.

And at what cost?

"This project is divisive," stated former New York Mayor, Rudy Giuliani Thursday morning on the 'Today' show. "This project is creating tremendous pain for people who've already made the ultimate sacrifice. All you're doing is creating more division, more anger, more hatred."

What better way to garner sympathy and support from potential donors than to incite them into defiantly challenging those standing opposed to the project by funding it.

Feisal Abdul Rauf, who heads Cordoba, arrived in Bahrain on Thursday for a U.S.-funded, 15-day outreach tour that will also take him to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The goal of the tour is to 'promote religious tolerance'.

How ironic.

According to Department of State spokesman P.J. Crowley, Rauf reportedly won't be allowed to raise funds for the mosque on the trip.

No, there won't be any plates passed. The pace of the media frenzy surrounding the proposed project speaks for itself; Rauf won't have to do anything but smile. The checks will be in the mail.

"I just think we need to be, all of us, sensitive to those of other faiths," stated Illinois Governor, Pat Quinn. "I think given the circumstances, that is the best way to promote harmony and interfaith understanding."

Giuliani stated, "If you [Rauf] want to claim to be the healer, then you're not on the side of the person who's pushing those divisive issues."

It's time for members of the Muslim community to share in the responsibility for how they are perceived. It's not too late.

MWA Director Commends New York Governor in Step Toward Compromise on Ground Zero
Park 51/'Ground Zero Mosque' - The Crux of the Matter

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Aishah Schwartz, an American Muslim published writer and activist, serves as Founder and Director of the Washington, D.C.-based Muslimah Writers Alliance (MWA), established in 2006. She is also a retired 17-year career litigation legal assistant. As an activist her focus leans toward the rights of Muslim women and the plight of the Palestinian people affected by the Israeli imposed illegal embargo on Gaza.

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