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U.S GROUND ZERO MOSQUE ROW

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USA plunged recently into an emotional-constitutional row over a permit, given by the authorities in New York, to build an Islamic cultural center, The Cordoba Center to be headed by Imam Feisal Abdul-Rauf, which includes also a swimming pool and an internal Mosque, just two blocks away, about 200 meters, from the former World Trade Center which was attacked on The/9/11 and where about 2,700 Americans lost their live in 2001.

President Barack Obama added his opinion when he said, On Friday 08/13/2010 evening, when he hosted in the White House for the Iftar dinner a group of diplomats from Islamic countries and Muslim leaders from USA. “As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country” he said.

The president’s comment provoked angry criticism by those opposing the so called “Mosque”, which becomes an issue in the mid-term elections in next 11/2010, that he corrected himself, during his holiday in Florida, on Sunday 08/15/2010, and said he spoke about the legal right of Muslims, which is anchored in USA constitution, whoever he will not comment on the “wisdom” of such a move.

It is the latest in an ongoing Cultural Conflict, all over the Western Democracies, between local customs and heritage and the growing influence of Islam on the political and public life, especially in Europe but also in USA.

Just recently France and Belgium adopted laws which ban wearing the Islamic full veil in public (see -Burka-Bill). Switzerland, on 11/29/2009, approved in a referendum proposal to ban the building of minarets (see – Minarets Ban) and in London the new conservative mayor moved to revoke a plan to build the largest Mosque in Europe by Tablighi Jamaat near the site of the London Olympic Games compound scheduled to 08/2012. The Mosque plan aroused stiff opposition and was an issue in the Municipal elections between the left wing headed by the former mayor Ken Livingston, who supported the Mosque in the framework of multicultural Britain, and the Conservative Boris Johnson, who won the elections on 05/01/2008.

The row in USA reflects also growing frustration and unease in the relations between the Muslim community and its neighborhood in predominant Christian countries even if, officially, there is a full separation between the state, human rights and religion as it is in France or USA. In USA, for example, The Dove World Outreach Centre in Gainesville, Florida, is reportedly planning to host an “International Burn a Quran Day” on the anniversary of The 9/11, a move that has been condemned by many Christians and Muslims.

USA, when looking backward, regret their chapter in history when constitution and law gave way to emotions and anger such as the detention of about 100,000 American citizens from Japanese origin in camps during World War II just because of the general fear from Japan, the rumors of Japanese parachutes and the worry that some of the USA citizens from Japanese descent may side with Japan (which didn’t happen even once).  USA also regret the Senator Joseph McCarthy period, between 1947 up to 1957, when he exploited the public fear of Communist spies and saboteurs to hunt down, to cause firing form jobs of many thousands, to bother thousands in endless investigations and to violate the USA constitution because the ideas of those people seemed to Senator Joseph McCarthy, communist. In fact only very few really sided with communism.

USA must, eventually, be able to negotiate a faire dialog with its growing Islamic community and to protect their rights regardless the outcome of the specific row over the downtown Manhattan Mosque.
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