“Ground Zero Mosque” reality check

We’ve all heard about it–the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque”. Journalists, bloggers, and pretty much everyone else have been screaming at each other about whether it should open or not. All but absent from the debate, however, are hard facts.

Now the Village Voice has published an angry article with facts about the Ground Zero Mosque. First off, it’s a community center as well as a mosque. Secondly, it’s not at Ground Zero. The article has a map showing the proposed community center is two-and-a-half blocks away from Ground Zero at 51 Park Place. Even more revealing are photos of what’s also in the vicinity of Ground Zero–a Burger King, a bookie, and a titty bar. Nobody has called these places disrespectful to the memory of the victims.

Village Voice writer Foster Kamer goes off on people from outside New York City making judgments about the Park51 project, pointing out that the community center will have a 9/11 memorial and saying that people who want to stifle freedom of religion are almost as bad as terrorists. He also reminds us that dozens of Muslims were killed in the 9/11 attacks, including an NYPD cadet. Kamer then rips into the commercialization of Ground Zero. Thousands of tourists flock to it every year, feeding a small industry of guided tours and souvenir stands selling Chinese-made memorabilia. There’s even a hotel that’s using its proximity to Ground Zero as a selling point.

One thing Kamer doesn’t include, however, is a link to the Park51 project, so here it is. The site details what the developers are planning to do with the property.

Is an Islamic community center an appropriate thing to have two-and-a-half blocks away from Ground Zero? Is a titty bar? Is Ground Zero tourism respectful or simply ghoulish? Tell us what you think in the comments section.

Photo of 45-51 Park Place courtesy Gryffindor via Wikimedia Commons.