New York Mosque Debate: Is America Ready for Recovery?

It’s been nine years since the 9/11 attacks in New York, and Ground Zero remains to be a gaping reminder that we, as a nation, are yet to fully recover. Recent polls showing larger America opposing the building of the Cordoba House Islamic Center two blocks away from the twin towers site almost a decade later, is a clear indication that we have a long way to go. And what’s bothersome is that this debate reflects the greater human problems of anger, fear and mistrust—the very elements stopping us from fully healing, reconciling and moving on.

Many fail to realize that the war on terrorism is fundamentally not about religion. It doesn’t matter whether you’re Christian or Muslim, we are all susceptible to terrorist attacks. The act of terrorism is about spreading fear and hate. It feeds off intolerance and discrimination, and is fuelled by oppression. To win this war, we need to find courage to rise above this tragedy, find closure and continue living with the absence of fear.

And while we continue to focus on the NY Mosque issue, we simply delay healing. We forget our other commitments, like our promise to rebuild St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which used to stand south of the twin towers. This 300-member congregation lost its century-old parish during the September 11 attack, and was promised financial help that hasn’t materialized until today. It seems political efforts are put into assisting the mosque, but steps have not been taken to ensure St. Nicholas is rebuilt.

As this year’s Patriot’s Day draws nearer, let’s take a moment to think about how far we’ve come since 9/11. Let’s think about the loved ones we lost on that tragic day, and how we’ve chosen to honour the heroes who protected us even at their own demise—from the Heroes of Flight 93, to the fire fighters and rescue teams who risked their lives that fateful day. Let’s utter a silent prayer and let it all go—one by one, hurt after hurt. And only then can the process of healing and forgiving truly begin.

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