It will be difficult for Mayor Bloomberg to dismiss Nada Bolourchi as an anti-Muslim bigot. She was born in Iran and her mother was on one of the planes that struck the World Trade Center. Read all of her op-ed in today’s Washington Post, but especially these paragraphs:
[A] mosque near Ground Zero will not move this conversation forward. There were many mosques in the United States before Sept. 11; their mere existence did not bring cross-cultural understanding. The proposed center in New York may be heralded as a peace offering — may genuinely seek to focus on “promoting integration, tolerance of difference and community cohesion through arts and culture,” as its Web site declares — but 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.
The Sept. 11 attacks were the product of a hateful ideology that the perpetrators were willing to die for. They believed that all non-Muslims are infidels and that the duty of Muslims is to renounce them. I am not a theologian, but I know that the men who killed my mother carried this message in their hearts and minds. Obedient and dutiful soldiers, they marched toward their promised rewards in heaven with utter disregard for the value of the human beings they killed.
I know Ground Zero is not mine alone; I must share this sanctuary with tourists, politicians, anyone who chooses to come, whatever their motivations or intentions. But a mosque nearby — even a proposed one — is already transforming the site from a sacred ground for reflection, so desperately needed by the families who lost loved ones, to a battleground for religious and political ideologies. So many people from different nationalities and religions were killed that day. This site should be a neutral place for all to come in peace and remember. I believe my mother would have thought so as well.