I'm against the project.
I have no legal ground to stand on, so I won't. The people behind the Cordoba Initiative have every right to go forth with the construction (provided they can find New York union workers willing to don a hard hat for the cause.) But, if as Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf claims, the goal of the proposed mosque is to reach out to the non-Muslim community, perhaps some rethinking is in order.
I don't think Muslim leadership has fully appreciated the impact of 9/11. They assume Americans have forgiven the attack. The wounds remain largely open. Constructing a house of worship is like salt in the wounds.
Those aren't my words. They come from Akbar Ahmed, Islamic Studies Professor at American University.
I know the esteemed Imam hardly needs to take advice from a Jew, or as the Hadith puts it, "the son of apes and pigs", but if he's truly interested in bridging the cultural gap between Christians and Jews (the people who generally don't stone women and homosexuals or sell their children into forced marriages) and moderate Muslims (those 1.4 billion peace-loving people who just want to "co-exist"), here are some suggestions:
1. When asked your opinion about September 11th, don't mince words. "I wouldn't say the United States deserved what happened, but US policies were an accessory to the crime."
Ehhhh, wrong answer Imam. 3000 innocent Americans died that day. Including many NYC firemen who rushed into those towers to save your Muslim brethren. If you don't like US policies, find a way to change them. Form lobbying groups. Persuade people to your cause. Bribe a congressman. Flying planes into buildings is not the way to go. Nor is giving tacit approval to mass murder.
2. Don't touch our bikini's and pork. Recognize that the rules of your religion do NOT apply to the rest of us. You may be prohibited from depicting Mohammed (though many Islamic painters did in the 16th and 17th century) but the cartoonists at South Park are not. So when Muslim extremists issue death threats against those who dare criticize your religion, you have an obligation to silence those voices. Islamic reformation is your responsibility, not ours. Unless of course you're afraid of being beheaded by those issuing the threats. In which case the 'fear mongering' we hear so much about is not so mongered after all.
3. Finally, if you're hell bent on getting out the jackhammers and cement trucks and really want to extend an olive branch to Americans, how about building a new football stadium in Los Angeles? Bring an NFL team to Southern California and you'll have 5 million converts to Team Islam.