Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Muslims Tread Carefully around Proposed Mosque near Ground Zero

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Muslims Tread Carefully around Proposed Mosque near Ground Zero

Article excerpt

As public opposition to the proposed mosque near ground zero grows and Sept. 11 approaches, Muslims are preparing for anti- Islamic acts, encouraging adherents to participate in 9/11 remembrance ceremonies, and changing how they celebrate the end of Ramadan.

American Muslims are treading carefully through the political minefield surrounding the proposed Islamic center near ground zero in New York - issuing warnings but not wanting to overreact to a recent series of desecrations and vandalism at mosques around the country, encouraging adherents to participate in a "9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance," and changing plans for celebrating the end of Ramadan.

As the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, approaches the caution may be justified.

Acts of vandalism - which law enforcement officials are investigating as hate crimes - have been directed at mosques in Madera, Calif., Murfreesboro, Tenn., and other places around the country. Remnants of a pipe bomb were found at a mosque in Jacksonville, Fla. Playground equipment was burned and vulgar graffiti found at the Dar El-Eman Islamic Education Center, in South Arlington, Tex.

In Gainesville, Fla., the pastor of the "Dove World Outreach Center," a small fundamentalist church, has announced that he will burn copies of the Koran on Sept. 11 - a provocative event that has been criticized by the National Association of Evangelicals and the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA.

In a cover piece in The Christian Science Monitor weekly magazine, Harry Brunius describes a "vortex of discord sweeping over the country [which] has exposed a deep-seated mistrust, if not outright phobia, of Muslims trying to establish a place in America."

"There is no more symbolically loaded space in America today than ground zero," University of Richmond religious scholar Douglas Hicks told Brunius. "Then you mix in religion, and the 'T' word - terrorism - and you get this explosive, unholy mix."

In response, Muslim congregations around the country are changing plans for the typical three-day festivities at the end of the holy month of Ramadan - which is likened to Christmas for Christians and which happens to fall on Sept. …

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