May 11, 2011

OBL IS DEAD AND THE RIGHT HAS FORGOTTEN WHY IT WAS SO RABID:

Under police protection, staunchly ecumenist Park51 achieves a sort of normalcy ( Colby Hamilton, May. 10, 2011, Capital New York)

Around the corner, on Park Place, the din of activity faded. The street was nearly empty, other than two policemen leaning against a cruiser parked outside a building with peeling white paint and the faded remains of a sign indicating the former presence of a Burlington Coat Factory. This was the site of as-yet-unbuilt Park51—the “Ground Zero mosque”—where a scheduled event on traditional Islamic medicine was about to begin. [...]


The ground floor has been gutted, leaving exposed concrete walls and a dust-covered floor. The old escalator is still there, but unused, leading up to nothing but darkness. A security guard stands near a folding table with photocopied information sheets on the Park51 project.

The only signs of life were to the left of the entryway. Adjacent to—but not, as the Park51 website makes a lot of effort to point out, in—the actual community center is an area called PrayerSpace, where Muslim faithful can attend daily prayers. This is as close to an actual mosque as exists there. A long room with commercial-grade carpet and pillars down the center, it looks like any number of church basements nearby, or anywhere.

But here the gates over the windows were down, a large man standing under them who was obviously there for security, creating an overall sense of being in a bunker.

In the back, a crowd of about 20 people (and one reporter) had gathered for the night’s event, advertised by Park51 as “So Old, It’s New: the Practice of a Sacred Medical Science.” The purpose, according to a flier, was to “discuss Park51’s integrated approach to health and well-being.”

Most of the people who coalesced around a solitary chair at the back of the room occupied by the night’s speaker, Hakim Mirza Ilyas al-Kashani, were Muslims, but the crowd was diverse-looking. [...]

If you’ve ever had acupuncture, gone to a spa retreat, or relied on herbal medicine to heal what ails you, Kashani’s description of traditional Islamic medicine would sound pretty familiar. Take the word “Islam” out of the mix and the talk could have been taking place at a yoga studio in Park Slope.

Of course, that’s the big, fundamental difference.

“God is the central figure in anything that we can possibly talk about,” Kashani said in an interview after the talk. “What sets us apart [from other Eastern traditional practices] is that we will, of course, be speaking to a massive community of people on the planet that are believers—whether they’re Christian, Jewish, or Muslim.”

It was dark by the time the event was over. Outside, the two cops were standing in the same spot against their car. Asked if they were there every night, one of them said, "Every night and every day. We’re out here 24/7.”

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Posted by at May 11, 2011 4:27 PM
  

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