Monday 8 November, 6.30pm until 8.00pm, The Wollman Hall, The New School, 65 West 11th St, New York, USA
Venue: The Wollman Hall, The New School, 65 West 11th St, New York, USA
The clearance by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission for the so-called ‘Ground Zero mosque’ to be built in lower Manhattan received national coverage amidst a raging debate, initiated by Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich and then weighed in upon by Mayor Bloomberg and President Obama, as to whether Park 51, the 13 storey Islamic cultural centre, should be allowed to be built so close to 9/11’s Ground Zero.
Those who oppose Park 51 argue either that the project is insensitive because Ground Zero is unique and a kind of ‘hallowed ground’ as Charles Krauthammer put it, or that it is politically motivated, with an anti-American agenda, and should not be treated with the same tolerance as a religious institution. Those defending the Islamic centre have been quick to label opponents as bigots, and claimed the centre will be a bridge to cultural harmony, promoting moderation, non-violence and diversity. The New York Times called the centre a ‘monument to tolerance’. Similar debates rage in Europe where some governments have moved to ban Muslim women wearing the burqa and minarets have been banned and debates rage on about whether the wearing the hijab, niqab and indeed certain practices of Islam itself represents a challenge to Western values. Some critics cry Islamophobia in response, and demand we respect all cultures and religious regardless. Others argue that such bans and restrictions are an attack on freedom in general, and consider them a gross overreaction.
Is this apparent new backlash against Muslims in Western nations and the arguments around the issue a new version of the ‘Culture Wars’? While religious freedom has been a consistent part of the Enlightenment tradition, does the increasing antagonism towards Muslims in the West express a feeling that we tolerate the intolerant at our peril? Is it true that today’s politically correct ‘tolerance’ results in a craven accommodation to radical Islam even when it is antithetical to Western values? How should today’s American society deal with clashing belief systems? Is this simply a case of religious freedom and free speech? Does the current preoccupation with Islam, whether sympathetic or hostile, reflect a deeper lack of certainty about what Western values are?
US-based writer on law, liberty, feminism, religion, and popular culture; author, Worst Instincts: cowardice, conformity and the ACLU
editor, spiked; columnist, Big Issue; contributor, Spectator; author, A Duty to Offend: Selected Essays
chairman of the board, Council on American-Islamic Relations – New York
New York correspondent, Al-Jazeera English
chairman, Night Time Industries Association (NTIA)
Both sides in the ‘Ground Zero mosque’ row are driven by the politics of fear and a disdain for their fellow Americans.Brendan O'Neill, spiked, 11 November 2010
The planned construction of a Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan has morphed into a controversy about Sept. 11, Islam and freedom of religion. The community center is part of a complex called Park51, located two blocks from ground zero.New York Times, 21 September 2010
Feisal Abdul Rauf has suggested Americans could find themselves 'under attack' if he doesn't get his wayWall Street Journal, 14 September 2010
'If the consortium wants to build it, it can build it. But it would be a very bad idea.'Abraham Foxman, Jerusalem Post, 14 September 2010
Some Relatives Dislike, Others Defend Plans for Islamic Center; Dispute Prompts Others to Stay AwaySumathi Reddy and Andrew Grossman, Wall Street Journal, 10 September 2010
As arguments for and against the proposed Park51 mosque and Islamic cultural center project continue, GOP gubernatorial Rick Lazio continues to hammer away at the idea -- and at Democratic AG Andrew Cuomo for not investigating it.Celeste Katz, NY Daily News, 10 September 2010
Two high-profile religious issues briefly appeared to nullify each other Thursday as a Florida pastor announced he would cancel a planned Quran burning on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks -- as long as a planned mosque and Islamic center was moved away from Ground Zero in New York or scrapped.Dave Gustafson, PBS, 9 September 2010
The FBI is concerned that Islamic extremists might attack and retaliate at this Saturday's Koran burning planned by radical Florida pastor Terry Jones, ABC News has learned.Pierre Thomas and Jason Ryan, ABC News, 8 September 2010
The controversy over a proposed mosque in lower Manhattan has spurred a wider debate about the nature of Islam. We asked six leading thinkers—Anwar Ibrahim, Bernard Lewis, Ed Husain, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Tawfik Hamid and Akbar Ahmed—to weigh in.Wall Street Journal, 1 September 2010
I tried to stay quite and hoped that if I closed my eyes long enough, this wholeAnushay Hossain, Huffington Post, 19 August 2010
It’s hard to know who’s worse in the NYC mosque debate: the opportunistic, anti-Muslim right or the Muslim-loving, masses-fearing liberals.Sean Collins, spiked, 18 August 2010
Does Obama's hedging show a lack of ethical convictions? Does Hamas' endorsement change the debate? What is behind public opposition to the site? Can you believe in religious freedom but not believe the mosque is appropriate?Valerie Elverton Dixon, Washington Post, 17 August 2010
I believe we should promote Muslim moderates right here in America. And why I'm returning an award to the ADL.Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek, 6 August 2010
The blog of Park 51, formerly 'Corboda House', the cultural centre at the focus of the debatePark 51