August 14, 2010


INTERVIEW – NY imam plans a “Muslim Y,” not a “Ground Zero mosque” (Reuters, Jul 22, 2010)

When Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf decided to build a Muslim cultural centre in lower Manhattan, the model he chose couldn’t have been more mainstream American — the Young Men’s Christian Association chapters found in cities across the United States.

The institution he had in mind was the 92nd Street Y, a Jewish adaptation of the YMCA concept that is one of New York’s leading addresses for residents of all religions or none to visit for public lectures, debates, concerts or educational courses.[...]

“We repeatedly say we are neither a mosque nor within Ground Zero, but they just shout back ‘Ground Zero mosque,’ ‘Ground Zero mosque,’” Rauf, 61, told Reuters in an interview. The planned building will have a prayer room for Muslims, he said, but it would only be a small part of the 13-story complex.

Rauf said the YMCA, which began in London in 1844 as Christian centre for young working men and quickly spread to the United States and other countries, had long worked to promote understanding across religious, ethnic and social dividing lines in modern societies. Now called simply “the Y,” its facilities across the United States offer exercise classes, education and community activities.

“We are trying to establish something that follows the YMCA concept but is not a church or a synagogue or, in this case, a mosque,” he said by telephone from Kuala Lumpur, where he is visiting. “We are taking that concept and adapting it to our time and the fact that we’re Muslims. It’s basically a Muslim Y.”

It's way too late to talk sense to the raging Right, but it continues to be worthwhile noting how much more American Mr. Rauf is than the opponents of the project. Somewhere, Avraham Zelmanowitz is ashamed of how his fellow citizens are behaving.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at August 14, 2010 2:04 PM
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