Reagan: Build your mosque, but build it somewhere else 

Plans to build a mosque and Islamic center just 200 meters from the former site of the World Trade Center, where 3,000 people died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, are not merely inappropriate — they are an outrage.

This isn’t about some sort of reconciliation between Muslims and their New York neighbors, it’s the equivalent of plunging a dagger into the very heart of America. If the Muslim community had any sense of compassion for the feelings of their fellow Americans, they’d find someplace else to build their mosque. Instead, they choose a site that forever serves as a reminder of that fatal blow against the American people.

Incredibly, the proposed $100 million development is located at the site of the former Burlington Coat Factory in Lower Manhattan, which closed after the landing gear from one of the 9/11 planes hit the building.

Do the members of the Muslim community have any idea of how the American people feel about the site of that cowardly attack on the World Trade Center buildings? Do they not understand that the site itself stands as an indictment of the perfidy of the 9/11 sneak attack and is the least appropriate site for a Muslim religious complex that will stand as a stark reminder of that attack and the people behind it?

The proposed mosque will be part of what is known as the Cordoba House project, a 13-story Muslim community center planned to include a theater and sports facilities, including a swimming pool.

I agree with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin who asked “peace-seeking Muslims, to try to understand that a Ground Zero mosque is unnecessary provocation; it stabs hearts.”

That fact failed to impress Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who is reported to have said “there is controversy and there are parties that have a political agenda and want to intimidate the American people against the mosque project which has not yet begun.” He singled out Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., whose opinion, he said, “should not be considered because his ideas are extreme.

King, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, said he favors an investigation into the funding of a proposed mosque near Ground Zero and has demanded an investigation into the financing of the center. He wants to know who is really footing the bill for the $100 million project.

“It’s a house of worship, but we are at war with al-Qaida,” King told the AP. “I think the 9/11 families have a right to know where the funding comes from; I think there are significant questions.

According to Imam Abdul Rauf, the Islamic center would be financed through contributions from Muslims here in the United States, and by donations from various Arab and Islamic countries. He admits that building a Mosque, due to accommodate some 2,000 worshippers, has stirred heated controversy and criticism from families of 9/11 victims.

That’s putting it mildly. Many of the 9/11 victims’ families have voiced strong objections to the proposed mosque. Evelyn Pettigano, whose sister died on 9/11, told the Associated Press: “I’m not prejudiced … it’s too close to the area where our family members were murdered.”

And said the mother of a New York City firefighter who died as well: “I think it’s despicable, and I think it’s atrocious that anyone would even consider allowing them to build a mosque near the World Trade Center.”

That pretty much says it all.

Mike Reagan, the elder son of the late President Ronald Reagan, is chairman and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation (www.reaganlegacyfoundation.org).

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Michael Reagan

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