August 13, 2010


Ground Zero Mosque Founder: ‘We Want to Repair the Breach’ (Tamer El-Ghobashy, 8/02/10, The Wall Street Journal)

As The Journal reported, backers of the project now plan to include a memorial to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in bid to allay the concerns of critics who see the mosque’s location as insensitive.

Metropolis sat down with Daisy Khan, one of the founders of Park51, as the Islamic center will be known, to discuss the heated backlash to the project. During the interview, Khan described her vision for the center as an open and inclusive place for Muslims to gather for arts programs, social events, fitness and education.

She also emphasized that the center will be open for interfaith programs and insisted that it will “repair the breach” caused by the terrorist attacks. The center, she says, will try to make inroads through food: “We will cater to the lunch crowd — a religion becomes accepted in any country once it’s food is accepted.”

Here are selected excerpts from the interview.

Metropolis: What is the ultimate goal of this community center?

Daisy Khan: To create a deep tolerance in intra-faith affairs. It’s a place for Muslims to come together in a place where divisions would gradually peel away and a new vision of Islam that is culturally American would emerge.

Metropolis: You have been in the Lower Manhattan community for nearly three decades with Masjid Al-Farah without controversy. How do you explain the opposition to Park51?

Khan: No one should be asked to leave their neighborhood. This is our neighborhood and we’ve been part of it for 27 years. Our opponents are not from this neighborhood…We were shut down for four weeks after 9/11. The sad part was that we felt victimized like everyone else in New York because it was our city that was attacked but we were never given permission to mourn.

We’ve decided to own the tragedy of 9/11 and we’ve heard and felt [the families of the 9/11 victims] pain and we’re extending ourselves. We want to repair the breach and be at the front and center to start the healing. A world full of hatred and suspicion and ignorance is not going to serve anyone’s interest.

...imagine the evil genius required to see how putting a community center, run by Muslims who've denounced you and who work towards interfaith tolerance, within just blocks of the site of your greatest defeat -- the one that led to your own death, no less -- will serve your own ends?

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 13, 2010 4:31 PM
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