The people who are opposing the building of this mosque and cultural center are also standing in opposition to religious freedom in America, which we supposedly hold dear. This reverence for the freedom of religion is ironically often espoused by the very same people who are protesting this mosque!! They say this mosque is a monument to radical Islamic terrorism, which is beyond insulting and embarrassing to listen to as an American who works hard to be inclusive. It is the height of arrogance, stupidity and bigotry to lump all Muslims of the world in with Islamic terrorists who probably consist of less than one percent of the worlds BILLIONS of Muslims. Sadly, however, this is the kind of ugliness you often hear from Americans whose only connection with Islam is the 9/11 terrorists and the wars against al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
Anyone who has interacted with an average Muslim knows the truth; that most Muslims are peaceful, kind and tolerant of others. I spent two years living in West Africa where Islam is a popular belief system, and some of the nicest people I met there were in fact Muslim. The Muslims I met would invite me into their homes off the street and feed me like a welcome guest. And the irony perhaps to some was that I was there in West Africa as an official Christian missionary!! But that wasn't important to them or myself. I was a guest in their country and guests are treated with great respect in many Muslim households.
Out of respect for that invitation I refrained from talking religion but when the subject was raised by them, I would discuss it. However, it was always respectfully discussed by both sides. And interestingly, when we did converse about faith it was often about what we had in common rather than apart. Rather than preached to or insulted for my religion at the time, I was often shown the passages within the Qu'ran that speak reverently about Jesus Christ. And I, in turn, asked respectful questions to learn about a religion that was new to me at the time. Islam isn't an "evil" religion and most people would find that if they had an open, respectful and honest dialogue with the average Muslim that they'd find more in common than not.
In the end, Americans need to come to terms with what it means to be an American. If you think it's o.k. to ban a mosque because of 9/11 then by that same logic we should ban churches close to the sites of abortion clinic bombings too.
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