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Outrage over mosque misguided by prejudice

At the outset, I should say that I am an American citizen of the Jewish faith. I am opposed on constitutional grounds — i.e., the First Amendment, which establishes the freedom of religion — to any government interference with the building of a mosque within two blocks of Ground Zero.

I do not think you can morally pick and choose whatever elements of the U.S. Constitution happen to agree with your own ideological orientation or point of view, as some appear to be inclined to do.

To those opposed to the building of the mosque, I would ask whether they would have the same objection to the building of a synagogue or church. My strong hunch is that the latter would not even have produced a ripple or made any news whatsoever.

Therefore, the real objection is not to the mosque per se, but to the Muslim religion.

I admire the heroism of those firefighters and police officers who risked and lost their lives at Ground Zero Sept. 11, 2001. Many of them, although off-duty, came in to help and many died.

But I think the families who lost loved ones at that time and who now are greatly offended and hurt by the planned mosque are confusing two things. They are confusing the attackers of the World Trade Center — members of Al Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden — with American citizens of the Muslim faith. None of the hijackers were American — all came from foreign countries and represented an ugly, distorted and murderous version of Islam. And this all was planned by Al Qaeda. We are not at war with Islam but with Al Qaeda and its affiliates.

I also find it deeply disturbing that any Jew could be opposed to the mosque. For how many centuries now have we been castigated as “not really” German, French, English, etc. — as if our primary allegiance was not to the nation in which we were born but somehow to our faith in contradiction to that nation. To turn around now and do this to our fellow Americans who happen to be Muslim is an irony and an act of cowardice.

Hugh Strauss

Forest Hills

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