Park51: Dialogue, Compromise, Peacemaking, Tolerance and Ramadan

Is the wisdom used by organizers of the Park51 project, in choosing a location within such offensively close proximity to Ground Zero, representative of the wisdom the nation's Muslim community wants to see in members of its leadership?
Aishah Schwartz
Aishah Schwartz
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Aishah Schwartz
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Aug. 23, 2010 - PRLog -- Park51. It's not about blindly following. It's about seeing with our eyes wide open.

I am aware that members of mainstream Muslim organizations in the United States, under the guise of 'unity', will steadfastly follow the pack. But I do not recall having given any one of them permission to speak on my behalf; nor am I aware of there being any campaign nominating and electing a single one of them as being representative of the national Muslim voice.

This past Saturday President Obama was asked about the Park51 debate during his trip to Florida. He said, "I will not comment on the wisdom of making a decision to put a mosque there."

I respect the President's decision, and thank him for planting the seed.

I will question the wisdom of the location for construction of Park51.

Is the wisdom used by organizers of the Park51 project, in choosing a location within such offensively close proximity to Ground Zero, representative of the wisdom the nation's Muslim community wants to see in members of its leadership?

I appreciate the goodness and best intentions of my fellow citizens, that is not the issue. The issue at hand, from the perspective of as many as disagree - is the WISDOM - in the choice of location from day one. A location connected with a lingering sensitivity for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

To the Muslim community I ask, put yourself in the shoes of someone who is not Muslim. Why would peacemakers stand steadfast in a decision that was bound from the onset to be rife with backlash?

And after it is all said and done - who among us is most deeply affected by the backlash, the taunting, name-calling, hate crimes, Islamophobia?

OUR MUSLIM YOUTH - the same Muslim youth that in recent months mainstream Muslim organizations have touted as being so deeply concerned about.

So the question remains, and as President Obama eluded to, and MUST be asked: what is the wisdom in this decision?

If the organizers are truly peacemakers, let them make peace.

And then let us focus on cleaning up our own back yards as a national Muslim community before we dare to be so bold as to suggest that we have the right to impose our beliefs under the guise of freedom on anyone.

There is no compulsion in Islam and the survivors and family members who lost loved ones on 9/11 - and the nation as a whole, will not heal if they feel Islam is being shoved down their throats.

We need to step back and step up to the fact that while Islam may one day be the world's first religion - it isn't going to be, nor does it need to be today.

Freedom and peace go hand in hand.

This of all times, is the Muslim holy month of Ramadan; and look how the peacemakers allowed it to be brought in - waving the U.S. Constitution in the faces of a nation of people from whom they expect to be treated with sensitivity, while steadfastly refusing to extend the same sensitivity in return. Shame on them.

Mark Anthony Perkins, a concerned Muslim American, wrote via email, "The concept behind Park51 was to create an environment open for dialogue and the expression of religious tolerance. Unfortunately, parties on both sides of the dispute are being manipulated and lead down a treacherous path like raging bulls headed for a cliff; blind-sided by anger and arrogance.

"This could very well be an opportunity lost or gained by Park51 organizers. The solution to this madness is simple; compromise. Don't build at the proposed location. This will quickly extinguish the fire and soften hearts. The chance to show compassion, tolerance and mercy is here; after all, it is Ramadan.

"And as a gesture of good faith, let Muslim communities across America host open houses and town hall meetings inviting local, state, and government officials. Use this precious opportunity to answer all questions and correct any misconceptions - opening every session with an apology for not conveying through our words and actions, the true message of Islam sooner," Perkins stated.

Park 51: Here is the Fruit of Your Labor
Park51: Yes, I Get Mail
Park 51 Organizers Missed Opportunity to Promote Tolerance and Understanding
Park 51/'Ground Zero Mosque' - The Crux of the Matter
MWA Director Commends NY Governor in Step Toward Compromise on Ground Zero

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Aishah Schwartz, an American Muslim published writer and activist, serves as Founder and Director of the Washington, D.C.-based Muslimah Writers Alliance (MWA), established in 2006. She is also a retired 17-year career litigation legal assistant. As an activist her focus leans toward the rights of Muslim women and the plight of the Palestinian people affected by the Israeli imposed illegal embargo on Gaza.
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