AP har snakket med flere amerikanske muslimer som er bekymret over byggingen av en moske nær Ground Zero. Det er mulig man juridisk har sitt på det tørre, men hva hjelper det hvis moskeen er en torn i øyet på amerikanere flest, sier en.
Det er muslimer som viser at de forstår amerikanernes synspunkt.
«For most Americans, 9/11 remains as an open wound, and anything associated with Islam, even for Americans who want to understand Islam — to have an Islamic center with so much publicity is like rubbing salt in open wounds,» said Akbar Ahmed, professor of Islamic studies at American University, a former Pakistani ambassador to Britain and author of «Journey Into America, The Challenge of Islam.» He said the space should include a synagogue and a church so it will truly be interfaith.
Abdul Cader Asmal, past president of the Islamic Council of New England, an umbrella group for more than 15 Islamic centers, said some opponents of the $100 million, 13-story project are indeed anti-Muslim. But he said many Americans have genuine, understandable questions about Islam and extremism.
In light of those fears, and the opposition of many relatives of 9/11 victims, Asmal said organizers should dramatically scale back the project to just a simple mosque, despite their legal right to construct what they want.
«Winning in the court of law is not going to help improve the image of Muslims nationwide,» said Asmal, a Massachusetts physician. «You have to win the hearts and minds of the ordinary American people,»
Moskeen er for lengst blitt en nasjonal sak, og debatten får konsekvenser for opinionens syn på muslimer i Amerika.
Asra Nomani, author of «Standing Alone: An American Woman’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam,» said she backs the idea of the mosque in principle but believes the feelings of families who lost loved ones in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks should trump the plan.
«I haven’t been able to support the building of the mosque right there in the location they’ve got,» said Nomani, an advocate for women’s rights and tolerance in the Muslim world.
Nomani said American Muslims have not fully confronted extremism in Islam, which makes her worried that any mosque has the potential to become a haven for those with rigid views.
«Yes, there is prejudice against Muslims in the modern day, but also Muslims in the modern day have an extremist problem,» Nomani said.
Tawfik Hamid, an Egyptian scholar and reformer who said he was once a member of a terrorist group, said he had a «conditional objection» to the proposed Islamic center.
He said it was not enough for Park51 leaders to call themselves moderate. Instead, they should «clearly and unambiguously» reject radicalization by opposing specific extremist practices, such as killing apostates, stoning women for adultery, calling Jews «pigs and monkeys» and «declaring war» on non-Muslims who refuse to convert.
«This, in my view, will be perceived by radicals in Islam as a defeat for their ideology,» said Hamid, senior fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies. «They think in a very primitive way. If they see a mosque near ground zero, this would certainly be perceived as a sign of victory for al-Qaeda. In the end, they will think, `They are bowing to us.'»
Akkurat dette poenget har fått liten oppmerksomhet: jihadister og islamister vil tolke prosjektet som en seier, og kanskje vil de også forsøke å infiltrere senteret. At Hamas gikk ut og krevde bygging, var ikke akkurat noen abefaling som ga goodwill i Amerika.
Disse spenningene – mellom amerikanere og muslimer, og blant muslimer, gjør senteret til et høyrisiko-prosjekt.
By contrast, Neda Bolourchi of Los Angeles, a native of Iran whose mother was on one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center, opposes the plan.
«I fear that over time, it will cultivate a fundamentalist version of the Muslim faith, embracing those who share such beliefs and hating those who do not,» she wrote in a Washington Post op-ed. «To the supporters of this new Islamic cultural center, I must ask: Build your ideological monument somewhere else, far from my mother’s grave, and let her rest.»