Hagia Sofia with Cloudy SkyDuring the last 9 years, folks have proposed building lots of things at or near the site of the World Trade Center, felled during the September 11, 2001 attacks. Few, if any, of them have ever been built … for reasons that are puzzling to just about everyone on the planet. Among the proposals, however, is construction of a mosque. That sparked a bit of outrage during a Community Board 1 meeting in New York City, as reported by the New York Post (WebCite cached article):

Angry relatives of 9/11 victims last night clashed with supporters of a planned mosque near Ground Zero at a raucous community-board hearing in Manhattan.

After four hours of public debate, members of Community Board 1 finally voted 29-1 in support of the project. Nine members abstained, arguing that they wanted to table the issue and vote at a later date.

All the raging and fuming, however, was in vain, because this board cannot really stop the project even if it wished to:

The board has no official say over whether the estimated $100 million mosque and community center gets built.

I suppose the sanctimonious anger is understandable, however, ultimately it should play no role in the matter. You see, all over the world, there are religious buildings constructed at places where those religions committed atrocities; for instance, there are Christian churches in and near Jerusalem, the site of a massacre perpetrated by (Christian) Crusaders in 1099, and at Verden an der Aller, the site of a massacre of pagan Saxons by Charlemagne’s forces in 782. By this same reasoning, neither of these places … or good many others … should ever have any Christian churches, either! I wonder if these same folks would go along with that … ?

Photo credit: Luke Robinson.

Update 8/15/2010:

For the longest time I’ve had this nagging feeling there’s a great, pithy literary parallel to the situation of the so-called “mosque” (well, no, it’s not really a mosque) at (well, not really “at,” it’s a few blocks away from) the former WTC site. I just hadn’t been able to think of it.

Until tonight. It finally hit me. Not all of you will know this reference, but I’m pretty sure some of you will.

That recent literary parallel is: The monastery at Mar Terrin.

For those not familiar with this, it’s from a 5-book fantasy series called The Belgariad by the late David Eddings. In it, there had been — millennia prior to the events in the book — a race known as the Marags who lived in their own country called Maragor. They were invaded and slaughtered by a neighboring race, the Tolnedrans. Maragor was left a ruined land where no one lived (not voluntarily, anyway), haunted by the ghosts of its former inhabitants. In one of Maragor’s ruined border cities, Mar Terrin, a few Tolnedran monks settled, praying and chanting, in an effort to ease the suffering of the dead Marag souls still lurking in Maragor. In the books, the monks of Mar Terrin — who aren’t very numerous, since the vast majority of Tolnedrans prefer not even to think about how they destroyed all the Marags — are called “the conscience of Tolnedra.”

Building an Islamic cultural center near the site of the World Trade Center would effectively be very similar to that. Make that, it COULD be. I’m not sure what the motives of its builders are; I haven’t heard they wanted to build it as a way of offering some kind of appeasement to those who fell there. But their motives pretty much don’t matter, so long as they go about the process legally.

At any rate, it’s bothered me that, so far, I haven’t been able to think of that. Now I have. Not that it matters much … but there you are.

BTW … if you haven’t read these books, I heartily recommend them. The five books can be purchased grouped into a two-volume set: The Belgariad, Vol. 1 (Books 1-3) and The Belgariad, Vol. 2 (Books 4 & 5). Yeah, I know, this series is stuffed full of all sorts of obvious tropes … but it’s nonetheless a fun read. Call it a “guilty pleasure,” if you must. It was followed by a sequel series of 5, The Malloreon, which is not as good.

Eddings also wrote another, different, series of 3 books called The Elenium, now available in a single-volume set: The Elenium. That trilogy had a sequel trilogy, too, called The Tamuli, but as with The Malloreon, it’s also inferior to its predecessor. And yes, The Elenium is its own massive romp through many tropes, but a lot of readers prefer it even to The Belgariad.

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3 Responses to “Outrage Over Mosque At Ground Zero”
  1. […] week a strange event occurred in my home state, the Land of Steady Habits. Perhaps inspired by the ridiculous Religious Right attacks on the Cordoba Center (a cultural center — not a mosque! — which will soon be built […]

  2. […] Religious Right caterwauling about the Cordoba Center proposal in lower Manhattan (about which I’ve blogged already). Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — who apparently is trying to reintegrate himself into […]

  3. […] center, and will be built near, not on top of, the site of the former World Trade Center, as I blogged already) has been palpable over the last several weeks. For the most part, opponents have said […]

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