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Mosque brings controversy

Welcome back to VSU, Blazers! I hope everyone had a good summer and will have a great year.
By now, I’m sure everyone has at least heard of the controversy in New York regarding the building of a mosque near Ground Zero.
For those of you who are uninformed with this topic, the issue comes down to the fact that an Islamic mosque, is planning on being built only two blocks away from the site of the 9/11 occurrence. Needless to say, this is quite a big deal and causing quite a bit of conflict.
There have been people protesting against the center as a whole, people who have been saying it’s too close to Ground Zero, and some who just oppose the idea completely.
Protesting comments on the issue, from The Baltimore Sun‘s website, involved statements from victims, who all see this as disrespectful to the memory of their lost loved ones.
I solely agree it was built too close to Ground Zero, with it being just two blocks away. I can see why that would set badly with people. If it can be built elsewhere, it might be best considering the strong opposition against it.
However, two freshmen, undecided major Malcolm Mayfield, and fellow journalism major, Kendyl Salter, informed me that there was a sex shop located near Ground Zero.
Looking further into the subject, finding an article on the Christian Science Monitor website, there are in fact bars, betting parlors, two strip clubs and the mentioned sex shop all near the controversial spot.
So, why is building a community center, with a prayer center, cafeteria and library, as Dr. Cristóbal Serran-Pagan y Fuentes, a Religious Studies teacher here at VSU and my old World Religions professor informed me, so shocking and horrible, while all of those places are acceptable?
It all comes back to the fact that it’s an Islamic culture center.
“What if it was (another religious center), would it be a bigger deal?” Mayfield said.
If the center is being opened with the sole intention of informing the public about the religion and to create a sense of peace in this area of chaos, I see no harm in that.
Essentially, we are America, “land of the free”. The Constitution does allow for freedom of religion. I think it is wrong to, in a way, punish the majority for the act of the few. Not all Muslims are bad. People from other religions go out and commit all sorts of crimes everyday, but should we hold all those people within the denomination accountable? There is always a trend in history-fear of change, fear of the unknown. That’s what this all comes down to.
It would be hard, and I understand that. I’m not excusing what happened years ago. I was fortunate not to lose anyone due to that heinous event, but I understand people still being upset and emotionally affected by Ground Zero. Who wouldn’t be?
Serran-Pagan suggests that a way to conquer the “Islamophobia” would be to visit a mosque, or talk to a Muslim, and find out what they are about. Islam is the second largest religion, right after Christianity. I think that part unnerves others as well. I believe we need to come to terms with our fears, which is hard for some, namely the victims’ surviving families, to help cope with the incident; as a nation, maybe this act of acceptance will help repair the wounds inflicted that day.
“It’s such a worthy cause that promotes peace and justice, where’s the harm?” Serran-Pagan said.
I agree. I just hope, that with time, people will come to accept what did happen, as horrible as it was, happened, and that we must move towards the future. Why not start with trying to repair the past and getting to truly know one another as individuals?

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