I think this 9/11 mosque is a very bad idea. As I have said before, they have the right to do it, but they shouldn't. If they must build it, Rex has some suggestions.
But if the Islamic centre is built; and if it is to be, as professed, a bridge to understanding and reconciliation, there are a few tests we could apply — a few thoughts or suggestions for what might reasonably be found in such a strategically placed building, shadowed as it will forever be by the spectral dust of 2001.
For example, a mosque in deliberate proximity to the scene of the Ground Zero slaughter will surely — unavoidably — have a section, a room, or a display, perhaps a miniature museum, on the events of that horrible day — giving some interpretation on what happened and why: what that day said, and did not say about Islam.
Could there not be, for example, photographs of the 19 fanatic terrorists? They could be presented in some sort of stylized rogues gallery: Here are those who plotted and executed evil jihad against America. Underneath, there could be a statement of categorical condemnation: These were a band of betrayers and corrupters of Islam, who did perverse deeds in Islam’s name. We Americans, Muslims all, in this holy place condemn and scorn their deeds and motives.
Maybe this could be accompanied by some work of art to commemorate the dead — those who died in the attacks themselves, and those who died during the attempt to rescue people within the towers.
If it is to be in the vicinity of 9/11’s wreckage, it must pay respectful and felt homage to 9/11.
A mosque, that by its instalations and presentations, derided the mischiefs done in Islam’s name, which in its declarations and stated understanding of 9 11 actually turned out to be a thorn in the side of fanatic Islamists everwhere, would be a worthy adjunct to the precincts of the now absent twin towers. It would be a work of understanding.
So, maybe the question now is not “Should it be built?” But, “What is to be built?” And if those who speak of understanding and reconciliation are serious, following a few of the suggestions here, or others from people much closer to this affair than I, could disarm all criticism and reproach. This should be, in this sense, if it goes ahead, the most American mosque ever.