Neda Bolourchi is an Iranian-born Muslim whose family fled to the US following the overthrow of the Shah is 1979. She feels this mosque planned for Ground Zero should be built elsewhere.
I was born in pre-revolutionary Iran. My family led a largely secular existence — I did not attend a religious school, I never wore a headscarf — but for us, as for anyone there, Islam was part of our heritage, our culture, our entire lives. Though I have nothing but contempt for the fanaticism that propelled the terrorists to carry out their murderous attacks on Sept. 11, I still have great respect for the faith. Yet, I worry that the construction of the Cordoba House Islamic cultural center near the World Trade Center site would not promote tolerance or understanding; I fear it would become a symbol of victory for militant Muslims around the world.
She notes that under the Shah Iran was much more secular and tolerant, in contrast to the Iran of today. There is a lesson there for those (i.e. progressives) who like nothing more than to see the Royals of Saudi be overthrown. The Saudi Royals are the cork on the bottle known as Wahabbism. Not for one second am I suggesting that I think the Saudis have our best interests at heart but they are definitely the lesser of evils.
Bolourchi makes clear that she does not think the new mosque would improve understanding:
But a mosque near Ground Zero will not move this conversation forward. There were many mosques in the United States before Sept. 11; their mere existence did not bring cross-cultural understanding. The proposed center in New York may be heralded as a peace offering — may genuinely seek to focus on “promoting integration, tolerance of difference and community cohesion through arts and culture,” as its Web site declares — but I fear that over time, it will cultivate a fundamentalist version of the Muslim faith, embracing those who share such beliefs and hating those who do not.
When Muslims conquered Spain the Cordoba cathedral was purchased and initally used by all religions. That sounds a lot like what Feisal Rauf tells us today of his intentions. Not long afterwards all Spaniards were ordered to convert to Islam. Creeping Sharia is nothing new. There are many of us who believe as does Bolourchi- that this new mosque will add nothing to understanding but rather serve as a symbol of triumph of Islam over America. It add nothing but resentment.
I do not doubt that Feisal Rauf has intentions other than the ones he claims. It is indisputable that Rauf has a Constitutional right to build the mosque. But Rauf claims to be a bridge builder. That conflicts with his plans. You really can’t build a bridge to people when you are using a stick to poke and open sore wounds. Neda Bolourchi gets it.
I know Ground Zero is not mine alone; I must share this sanctuary with tourists, politicians, anyone who chooses to come, whatever their motivations or intentions. But a mosque nearby — even a proposed one — is already transforming the site from a sacred ground for reflection, so desperately needed by the families who lost loved ones, to a battleground for religious and political ideologies. So many people from different nationalities and religions were killed that day. This site should be a neutral place for all to come in peace and remember. I believe my mother would have thought so as well.
If Rauf was the sensitive guy he claims to be, he’d drop these plans. He’d sense that this is causing grief among Americans and he would choose to build his mosque elsewhere. But he’s not dropping his plans. He intends to force them upon us, as I think he would force Islam upon this country. Rauf’s mosque is being built as a symbol of the victory of Islam.