Insensitive or freedom of religion?

I know I’m a day late and a dollar short on this one, but I’d like to take a moment to discuss the Muslim community center that is set to be built 2.5 blocks from where the twin towers used to stand, prior to the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001 that destroyed the towers and killed over 3,000 people. The attacks were propagated by Muslim extremists, who used their religion as the reasoning behind the attacks. A vast majority of the Muslim faith have denounced the attacks in an attempt to distance themselves from the extremists who carried out the attacks, but many Americans are having a hard time accepting the news that a Muslim community center is going to be built within walking distance of where the twin towers used to be.

My first instinct is to agree with those that are against the community center being opened that close to the twin towers. We lost over 3,000 people to those attacks, not to mention the thousands more that have died as a result of the war being waged because of those very attacks (or so they say, but that’s another blog). Thousands more have been directly affected. And those terrorists genuinely believed that they had a religious obligation to attack America because of their Muslim faith.

But then, another part of me kicks into gear, and I have to realize that wait a second here, the people who attacked us were extremists. They don’t represent the whole faith community. In fact, most of that community have denounced the attacks, making it more than clear that those who carried out the attacks were NOT representative of a vast majority of the people who follow the Muslim faith. In other words, they were terrorists first and Muslim second.

And then I remember that this is America. One of the few countries where people of any faith can come and live a persecution-free life while they practice the peaceful religion of their choice. Its one of the founding principles of our country that people be allowed to practice the religion of their choice without fear that the government is going persecute them for their religious choices.

But that doesn’t change the fact that people are offended. A LOT of people are offended, and not without merit. If I had lost someone to those attacks, I’d probably be right there with the people who don’t want this community center built so close to where the towers used to stand.

So that leaves us with the question, who’s right?

I think they both are. While I wholeheartedly agree that anyone should be allowed to practice their religion wherever they want to, I also think its pretty insensitive, given the fact that many people still think Muslim = terrorist. So I guess the answer would be its a little too soon. Sure, 20 years from now it probably wouldn’t be such a hot topic, but 9 years after the attacks? It’s still fresh in the minds of a lot of people, and many are still dealing with the loss of a loved one at the hands of a terrorist who happens to be Muslim.

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