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Plans for Mosque on Ground Zero on Pause

The image of two jet planes crashing into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 was a horrific embodiment of Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations. Americans were suddenly embroiled in a War on Terror abroad and confronting a war on xenophobia at home. Following 9/11, hate crimes against Muslims rose a staggering 50 percent. And while the hate crime rates have since decreased, research shows overwhelmingly that Americans still harbor some serious anti-Islamic sentiments.

Almost ten years later, Islamophobia is at work again, this time in an attempt to stop the construction of a mosque on ground zero in New York City. Opponents to the mosque, like Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), demand an investigation into the mosque's funding. King believes it could come from al-Qaida, while others simply feel that "it would be a terrible mistake to destroy a 154-year-old building in order to build a monument to terrorism."

The Landmark Preservation Committee has begun attempts to prevent the mosques construction.

From burqua bans across Europe to this attempt to prevent the building of a mosque, Islam is under attack in the West.

But despite the recent controversy, building a mosque on the site of the worst terrorist attack in American history could be a crucial step in healing the chasm that 9/11 created between Islam and (non-Muslim) America. Casting doubt upon the mosque’s source of funding and preventing its construction just perpetuate the false perception that Islam and terrorism always go hand in hand.

Build the mosque on ground zero because doing the opposite will send a loud and clear message that Muslims are not welcome in America. If Americans want to prevent more terrorist attacks, we need to stop giving militant jihadists ammunition that allows them to paint us as hateful toward Muslims.

Americans should instead pursue a policy of acceptance, because Islam can peacefully coexist with America. But that will happen only when it is respected like any other religion, mosques and all.

Emily Schlichting is a Campus Progress Intern.

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