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TODAY’S QUESTION: Should the Islamic community center be built near ground zero?

Monday, August 23, 2010 | 10:33 a.m. CDT; updated 11:43 a.m. CDT, Monday, August 23, 2010

Columbia's Muslim population became the latest group to respond to the proposed Islamic community center near ground zero. In a recent Missourian article, several Muslim leaders in Columbia supported the construction of the center, which has been at the heart of a controversy since May.

This month, the project was unanimously approved by a New York City board. After that approval, the issue became a bigger story, with politicians and others speaking out about the project. A decision on Aug. 3 by the city's Landmark Preservation Commission meant the center can now go forward, according to the New York Times.

Many Republicans and some Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., oppose building the community center. They cite concerns about the center's proximity to ground zero and feel that the center would disrespect those who died during the 9/11 attacks. 

"The fact that someone has the right to do something doesn't necessarily make it the right thing to do," House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement. "That is the essence of tolerance, peace and understanding. This is not an issue of law, whether religious freedom or local zoning. This is a basic issue of respect for a tragic moment in our history."

Some opponents have also said that building the center would create a recruiting tool for al-Qaida. One Columbia citizen, Rezwan Islam, offered a different view.

"If you don't let this mosque be built (near ground zero), it will be the greatest recruiting strategy for al-Qaida," he said in a previous Missourian report. Prohibiting the Islamic center in Manhattan might fuel anti-American sentiment in predominantly Muslim countries, which terrorist organizations might use to their advantage.

In addition to this point, supporters of the mosque give several reasons for why they believe the mosque should be built. Some see it as freedom of religion argument, and others feel it would show America's tolerance of different religions. Others have said that Islam has long been a part of the neighborhood around ground zero and Muslims regularly pray in the Pentagon, only feet from the site of a 9/11 attack. 

Should a community center be built near the site of ground zero?


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