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Ground Zero mosque styled protests spread in the US

Source: PTI
August 08, 2010 22:46 IST
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Protests against the Ground Zero mosque might be one of the most talked about issues, but America seems to have been hit by a new wave of demonstrations directed against Islamic centres of worship not even close to controversial spots like the site of the fallen Twin Towers.

Protests similar to the ones being staged against a proposed mosque near the site of the World Trade Centre towers are spreading to other parts of the countries with the critics suggesting that Muslims are trying to impose Shariah Law in the US, a New York Times report said on Sunday.

The newspaper reported several instances of a new wave of demonstrations, with a picture showing a man holding a placard that read 'Mosques are monuments to terrorism'.

Hundreds of protestors turned out for a march against a large mosque centre in Murfreesboro, a city in Tennessee, which Republican candidates have denounced.

Similar sentiments were expressed in Sheboygan, a city in Wisconsin, when Christian ministers fought against the opening of a mosque in a former health food store bought by a Muslim doctor.

In Temecula, a city in California, local protestors took dogs and picket signs to Friday prayers at a mosque that is seeking to build a new worship centre on a vacant plot nearby.

In recent months, mosque critics have suggested that the Muslims are trying to impose Shariah law in America, and eventually want it to replace the Constitution.

"As a mother and a grandmother, I worry," said Diana Serafin, a protestor, as quoted by NYT.

"I learned that in 20 years with the rate of birth of population, we will be overtaken by Islam, and their goal is to get people in Congress and the Supreme Court to see that Shariah is implemented.

"My children and grandchildren will have to live under that," she said.

The 'anti-mosque' efforts by conservative factions of the public and polity stemmed from the proposal of building a mosque on the Ground Zero site earlier this year.

This project has divided New Yorkers, families of the victims of 9/11, civil society organisations and politicians.

Last week, the project received the green light from the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which voted 9-0 for the construction to begin.

The following day, The American Centre for Law and Justice, a conservative advocacy group, sued to halt the construction.

The prominent Jewish group, Anti Defamation League, has also vehemently opposed the mosque, noting that "an Islamic Centre in the shadow of the WTC will cause some victims more pain unnecessarily and that is not right".

Former Republican vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, and former house speaker from the Republican Party, Newt Gingrich, have also opposed the construction of the mosque near Ground Zero.

"Twin Towers site is too raw," Palin wrote on twitter.

"Peace-seeking Muslim, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is unnecessary provocation," she tweeted.

"Pls reject it in interest of healing".

The plan is being pushed by Kuwaiti-born Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and will cost $ 100 million.

Parties that oppose the building of the mosque, called Cordoba House, insist this project is inappropriate since the terrorist attacks were carried out by extremist Muslims.

"What's different is the heat, the volume, the level of hostility," Ihsan Bagby, associate professor of Islamic studies at the University of Kentucky, told NYT.

"It's one thing to oppose a mosque because traffic might increase, but it's different when you say these mosques are going to be nurturing terrorist bombers, that Islam is invading, that civilisation is being undermined by Muslims," he added.

At the same time, religious leaders from different faiths and several civil society groups have come out in favour of building these mosques but not on the same scale and intensity as the opponents.

"I think it's fair to say if somebody was going to try, on that piece of property, to build a church or a synagogue, nobody would be yelling and screaming," said NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"And the fact of the matter is that Muslims have a right to do it, too".
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