St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church stood in the shadows of the World Trade Center until September 11, 2001. It was destroyed when one of the towers fell on it. For nine long years the congregation has been trying to rebuild the church but has been stonewalled by government officials. In 2008 a deal was struck with the Port Authority where the Port Authority would provide land and $20 million to rebuild the church, but the deal appears to be dead. According to the Port Authority:
“the church was making additional demands — like wanting the $20 million up front and wanting to review plans for the surrounding area. They say the church can still proceed on its own if it wishes.
“‘The church continues to have the right to rebuild at their original site, and we will pay fair market value for the underground space beneath that building,’ a spokesperson with the Port Authority told Fox News.”
The church sees it differently:
“But Karloutsos [assistant to the Archbishop] called the Port Authority’s claims ‘propaganda’ and said the church has complied with all conditions. He said the government should honor agreements that date back to 2004, under former New York Gov. George Pataki.
“Pataki, speaking with Fox News on Tuesday, agreed that the church should be rebuilt.
“‘I don’t understand it,’ Pataki said. ‘Why the Port Authority now has so far put roadblocks in the way of its reconstruction is beyond me. It’s not the right thing to do.'”
Contrast this nine year marathon to the sprint that the mosque at ground zero is running. The proponents are waving the flag of religious freedom, but is that the real flag? Or is it a triumph of the radicals who knocked down the World Trade Center and now want to plant their victory flag in its place? Consider the following:
1. It is called the Cordoba Initiative. Historically speaking Cordoba was the high point of Islamic advance in Europe in the Middle Ages. They built their grand mosque on the foundation of a cathedral. If nothing else it’s an interesting choice of names.
2. The Imam behind the project said, only days after 9/11, that the US was an accessory in the attack and that Osama bin Laden was “made in the USA”
3. Who is funding the project? If this is to build bridges between Muslims and non-Muslims in America, why isn’t being funded by all the moderate Muslims in America? It is believe that money is coming from Saudi Arabia and Iran. Why is that necessary?
The primary objection to the mosque is not that they don’t have a right to build it but that in building it so close to Ground Zero that it is incredibly insensitive. How do you begin to build bridges by sticking your thumb in the eye of the people you are trying to win over? It seems to suggest other motives. Remembering the glee around the Middle East immediately following 9/11, I can imagine a similar celebration upon the completion of a mosque at Ground Zero.
What do you think?