Oh, Those? Pay No Attention to the Other Mosques Near the World Trade Center

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Friday night, President Obama defended the rights of Muslims to build a mosque wherever they want, including downtown Manhattan, insisting that our country's "commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable," and thus giving the New York Post an opportunity (pictured) to insinuate that he's a Muslim. Isn't this a 9/11 issue? Whose side is he on? Is he the President of the United States or the President of Islam Africa? Meanwhile, the more sensible New York Times is like, "Well, what about those other two mosques vaguely in the vicinity of Ground Zero?" Oh, you mean you didn't know?

As it turns out, the Muslims have already infiltrated the area south of Canal St. In fact, the two mosques profiled by the Times were founded in 1970 and 1985 respectively, meaning they've just been waiting there to strike like some super secret embeddable spies. Nonetheless, they were probably well aware of what would happen in 2001, what with their mind powers and all. And what will happen next. Dun dun dun.

But seriously, this whole ridiculous spectacle, disguised as a debate, has gone on far longer than necessary and far exceeded the amount of rationale thought available on the subject. Which makes today's calm and detailed Times article on two distinct downtown mosque cultures so interesting.

On one side, you have the traditionalists: mostly men, women separated, spicy curry. Then there's one, "among the most progressive in the city," where men and women pray together, work in yoga studios and have piercings. Muslims, take your pick! And both so conveniently located, "largely unnoticed, blocks from the World Trade Center site."

And the mosques' attendees? They just don't get the uproar:

Referring to 9/11, [one woman] said that she, too, had "bad souvenirs." (A native French speaker, she meant memories.) She remembered with awe a visit to the twin towers, lamented the deaths there, and said: "Killing people is a sin. Building the mosque over here, I don't think that has to do with killing people."

In Lower Manhattan, 2 Mosques Have Firm Roots [NYT]



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