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August 4, 2010

Simmons: Ground Zero mosque 'not insensitive'

Over at the Huffington Post, New York media and fashion mogul Russell Simmons writes that the debate over construction of a mosque near Ground Zero is "digging a hole in the soul of America."

Simmons, the activist cofounder of the Def Jam record label and the Phat Farm fashion line, writes of being able to see the hole that remains at Ground Zero from his apartment in Lower Manhattan, and of greeting the firefighters at his neighborhood station, who lost nearly all of their comrades on Sept. 11, 2001.

This is my neighborhood, my backyard. And in my backyard, I have no tolerance for a new fear-mongering, hateful rhetoric that has sprung up over the proposed $100 million Islamic cultural center that they plan on building blocks away from Ground Zero.

It is not insensitive to put a cultural center of any sort, that has a place of worship, anywhere in our city. This is what makes our country and our city great. As a nation that was founded by men and women who were being persecuted for their particular faith, we should know that the best path to finding freedom is finding freedom for others. We were formed as a pluralistic society and this means we welcome all religions. Islam did not attack the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, sick and twisted men did, who not only hijacked four airplanes but also hijacked a religion. Let us not stereotype the over one billion Muslims around the world because of the evil acts of a few. A decision like this one, to support or not support the construction of this center, defines who we are as a nation. It's at the essence of our values, our freedom of expression, freedom of religion and religious tolerance.

As the Chairman of The Foundation Of Ethnic Understanding, my partner Rabbi Marc Schneier (also the Vice President, World Jewish Congress; Chairman, World Jewish Congress United States) and I have worked tirelessly to promote dialogue among different ethnic groups all over the world, particularly Jews and Muslims. We have witnessed the power of the fostering of this dialogue. We know that we must fight Antisemitism and Islamaphobia together and at the same time. We welcome and support this cultural center, as it will continue constructive conversations around a moderate approach to co-existence between all people, regardless of religious preference. In fact, we strongly feel that this center will bridge the divide that many of our nation's citizens have with the Islamic faith.

There are moments that define our nation. There are moments that test the strength of our character. There are moments that test the essence of our freedoms. Let this be that moment and let us pass this test with grace and dignity. As I will not stand for any sort of Islamaphobia in my backyard.
Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 1:24 PM | | Comments (7)


Instead of a mosque, they should build a center devoted to the treatment of psychiatric disorders, of which religion is by far the most prevalent in our society.

I can see where any system that tells its followers to put others over self would be hard to comprehend for most.

Not insensitive ? Why wouldn't someone be sensitive to this . . .

We should apply to build a CHURCH, a SYNAGOGUE, a TEMPLE in Mecca so we all can go on pilgrimage there too!!!

WHEN that gets approved we should RECIPROCATE to the HYPOCRETES by ALLOWING them the same very freedom and process and EQUITY in LISTENING to their RVAES and RANTS at "DEMANDING" to have an an attrocity on TOP of an ATTROCITY !!!

SUCH a fate is all EVIDENCED all over INDIA where the Mongol Invaders guised as MUSLIM Gods emissaries hacked heads off Hindus and RAZED their 27,000 temples in INDIA to BUILD MOSQUES on top of the sanctifiedland where once stood Hindu Temples.

So IF ONE Mosque gets RAISED on this TWIN RAZED SOULS and the HEART of US of A and all that with the DODO-DUMB MUTE response - MORE ARE A FOREGONE FATE AND CONCLUSION - Remember THIS to your children to note and weep by!

Better BE SAFE than SORRY !!!!

Gut reaction to hearing of plans to put a mosque near Ground Zero. INSENSITIVE. I don't care if the builder's intentions are the most righteous well meaning ever, it is important that they realize it is far too sensitive an issue to put a mosque at Ground Zero. Americans are asked to be sensitive to other's views, cultures, religions,etc again and again. Why don't we deserve the same sensitivity?

We should build the mosque here near ground zero. Then when everyone is in there we can fly a plane into the Mosque and see how they like and then build a McDonalds on there scared ground.This is a slap and the victims face its not about freedom of religion its about common sense and doing the right thing

Certainly, one can point to the insensitivity of the location, though it is 2 blocks away and out of sight from ground zero. The larger question on needs to ask is whether this is simply going to lead to escalation from the fanatics on both sides. For those who espouse to be followers of Jesus Christ, they certainly do not turn the other cheek, nor do onto others what you would have them do onto you.

Is welcoming with open arms more difficult than a closed fist? Of course it is. That said, Christians should ask themselves, 'what would Jesus do?'. I guess the notion of Thou shall not kill, should be amended to "Thou shall not kill Christians; everyone else is fair game."

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About Matthew Hay Brown
Matthew Hay Brown writes and blogs about faith and values in public and private life for The Baltimore Sun. A former Washington correspondent for the newspaper, he has long written about the intersection of religion and politics. He has reported from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, traveling most recently to Syria and Jordan to write about the Iraqi refugee crisis.

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