On Wednesday, Sen. Jim Risch and Congressman Mike Simpson came out against a Muslim mosque and cultural center that will likely be built about two blocks away from where the World Trade Center once stood. Thursday, Sen. Mike Crapo echoed Risch and Simpson in saying that though the construction of the mosque is disrespectful to the memories of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he won’t press for federal intervention into the issue. Congressman Walt Minnick said he believes it’s a local issue for New York City.
The 15-story mosque and cultural center isn’t being built right next to Ground Zero, but it is close. A map from The Huffington Post shows that the building will be about two blocks away from where the Twin Towers once stood (Point A is where the center will be built and Point B shows Ground Zero). Still, the idea of having a mosque even relatively close to what many consider a sacred site has drawn the ire of families of the victims.
Since the proposal does not relate to construction on the actual Ground Zero site, but on private property nearby, it is subject to local government zoning authorities. Nevertheless, although I respect the rights of private property owners to use their property within the bounds of applicable law, I do not believe the construction of this Islamic Center so near to Ground Zero is proper. This construction proposal is proving highly divisive to Americans across the political spectrum who are still seeking to recover fully from the emotional, economic and social scars caused by the terrorist attacks. A terrible tragedy befell our nation here, and the healing our nation needs would be best served if a location more distant from Ground Zero were selected.
Minnick didn’t comment on the proximity of the mosque to Ground Zero, but his spokesman, John Foster, did say that the feds shouldn’t get involved in the situation. “Walt believes that it’s an issue to be decided by the people of New York City, and agrees that that the federal government shouldn’t insert itself into what is clearly a local decision,” said Foster.
On May 24, 2010, a group of families, known as 9/11 Families for a Safe and Strong America, released a statement condemning the mosque’s building site. The statement says the group views the mosque and cultural center “as shockingly insensitive to the history of the site where their loved ones were slaughtered in the worst terrorist attack by extremist Muslims in America’s history; following the attack, 20,000 body parts were recovered in a nine-month operation to remove 1.8 million tons of rubble from Lower Manhattan.”