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Mosque near ground zero could help the healing

By Tom Fetters

Call it what you will — deplorable, provocative, maybe even naïve — but the plan by two Muslim groups to open a mosque near ground zero is a bold move that just might help heal the deep wounds left by 9/11.

The Muslim groups want to open a 13-story mosque and cultural center at the site of a former Burlington Coat Factory store in lower Manhattan that was damaged in the 2001 terrorist attacks, according to an Associated Press account.

Not surprisingly, the plan has received heavy criticism from people who lost loved ones in the attacks. “It’s too close to the area where our family members were murdered,” one woman was quoted as saying.

“I think it’s despicable, and I think it’s atrocious that anyone would ever consider allowing them to build a mosque near the World Trade Center,” according to a quote from another.

But some area residents apparently back the project: Members of a 15-member local community board have passed a resolution of support.

The Muslim groups have not yet raised money for the project — which is envisioned as a $100-million effort to promote mainstream Islam — so work on the site won’t be starting anytime soon.

Still, I’d like to believe the project, if it does happen, can be a tool to help the healing — a way of bringing people together and helping them understand each other instead of pushing them apart and allowing wounds to fester.

As a paramedic who survived the twin towers collapse was quoted as saying: “Muslims died on 9/11 as well. This is a tremendous gesture to show that we’re not all full of hatred and bigotry.”

Tom Fetters is a copy editor at The Daily Reporter. He can be reached at (414) 225-1825.

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