Monday, December 21, 2009

Victory Marker?

Read this article about an "Islamic Cultural Center" being built at Ground Zero.

For the culturally ignorant, let me explain why that is a bad idea. Symbolism is important in most of the world, especially in the Mideast. For their populations, it's important to not just BE victorious, but also to SEEM victorious. For the Islamic population, they mark their victories over "the infidel" with an ostentatious display of mosques. Sometimes, they build those mosques on the site of a battle; other times, they capture a church, and turn it into a mosque (as they did with the Hagia Sophia, Iraq, and many other places over the years. Phyllis Chesler, a noted feminist in the early days of the movement, writes about the issue of the Swiss ban on more minarets. Her post reflects her early experience as a wife to a Muslim in Afghanistan.

The "ownership" issue is addressed by Henrik R. Clausen, who writes:
Some Islamic leaders, like the current Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, take the idea of connecting Islam with conquest quite a bit further. Erdogan stated in 1997:

The minarets are our bayonets; the domes are our helmets
Mosques are our barracks, the believers are soldiers
This holy army guards my religion
Almighty Our journey is our destiny, the end is martyrdom.

Given the often hostile nature of the mosques, I think it is inappropriate and potentially dangerous to allow a mosque so close to the site of an Islamic battlefield. Surely the city can manage to come up with a reason to deny use of the mosque, whether real or specious. It is insensitive to allow it; it will lead to further trouble with Islamic fanatics. What sort of people would WANT to have their mosque there?

Conquerors, who wish to display their victory symbols.
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