A proposal to build a mosque just two blocks from ground zero is "indecent," said a former Muslim and bestselling author.
"I couldn't believe that this is really true," wrote Sabatina James to The Christian Post in an e-mail. "Building the mosque where thousands of people died because of Islamic terror is just indecent."
James, whose book My Fight for Faith and Freedom is a bestseller in Germany, is currently living under police protection in Germany because of death threats against her for converting to Christianity. She said her German friends were shocked when they heard that a mosque might be built near the site of the 9/11 terror attacks.
A New York community board on Tuesday voted 29 to 1 in favor of plans to build a mosque and Islam center near the 9/11 site. The plan has sparked national debate and strong emotions from those opposed to the idea.
Opponents of the mosque say it is an "insult," "demeaning" and will be the "birthplace of the next terrorist event," according to a report on ABC's World News with Diane Sawyer. Many family members of those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks have voiced opposition to the mosque.
In addition to the mosque, Muslim organizers plan to build an Islamic center that would include a swimming pool and basketball court. The center, which will be known as the Cordoba House, will be able to hold up to 1,500 worshippers for Friday prayer meetings. The mosque and Islamic Center are estimated to cost more than $100 million to build.
"I mean no disrespect to Muslims, but this is an unspeakably bad idea," wrote Rod Dreher, director of publications at the John Templeton Foundation, in a Beliefnet blog on Thursday. "The 9/11 hijackers brought down those towers, and killed thousands, in the name of Islam."
Although not all Muslims can be blamed for the 9/11 attacks, he said, "why on earth rub salt in the wounds of the 9/11 dead by allowing a mosque to go in just two blocks from where jihadists incinerated or crushed over 2,700 innocent victims, in service of their faith?"
Dreher highlighted the comment made by Community Board 1 member Rob Townley who called the plan a "seed of peace." But he argued that even if there are good intentions behind the mosque, "there are some things you just don't do."
"[T]he inescapable fact is that those killings were carried out by Islamic religious fanatics who believed they were serving Islam through mass murder," wrote Dreher. "I see the desire to erect such a building on the site not as a gesture of interreligious peace and reconciliation – which we need – but rather as an outrageous act of nerve and arrogance."
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has expressed support for the mosque plan. But it might not be built if the Landmarks Commission gives the Burlington Coat Factory building, which is located on the site where the mosque would be built, landmark status.
A spokesperson for the Landmarks Preservation Commission said the landmark status application for the Burlington Coat Factory landmark has been pending since 1989. If the building is given landmark status then it cannot be torn down to build the mosque and Islamic center.