Park51- The Center/Mosque at Ground Zero is an American Issue

Date: Sept 2010

9/11/01 — a terrorist attack by al Qaeda kills 3,000 people in New York. Families reel from the loss of loved ones, trying to make sense of this senseless tragedy. 9/11 reshaped the world, resculpting our national and global psyches. But it’s not finished. Nine years later, people heatedly contest building a community center/mosque in a neighborhood that has strip clubs, but is also near Ground Zero. What’s this all about?

Post-9/11, friends and acquaintances zeroed in on my Muslim identity. I felt like I was on the hot seat explaining Islam, as I was earlier in my career, defending reproductive rights while working at Planned Parenthood in San Francisco. Early on, the FAQ’s were basic: Why are Muslim women repressed? Why is Islam so militant?

A couple years later, shock gave way to a new curiosity about Islam and my friends were devouring books to understand the faith better. People were striving to understand each other, looking at the inter-faith and cross cultural issues, searching for commonalities even as we lived side by side, regaining our old rhythms.