PHOTO: David Shankbone Girls demonstrate in support of a proposed Islamic community center in New York City.
PHOTO: David Shankbone

By CHIRAG BHATT

Mosques to be constructed in the United States have lately been the subject of controversy. A mosque is a place of worship for a person of the Islamic faith.

This spring, plans for an Islamic community center in New York City near the site of the September 11, 2001 attacks made news headlines. The new Islamic community center would be similar to a YMCA with a gym and pool and a Muslim prayer space. The proposed center is not at the “Ground Zero” site of the attack. Nor is it a mosque. However, people who don’t like the project have called it the “Ground Zero Mosque.”

The first amendment of the U.S. Constitution grants the “free exercise of religion.” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has come out in support of the community center, saying “the owners have a right to use the building as a house of worship, and the government has no right whatsoever to deny that right.”

Mosques that are planned to be built in California, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Tennessee have also faced opposition from citizens, including Christian ministers and political candidates. In August a mosque in Madera, California, was vandalized with signs that read “No Temple for the God of terrorism at Ground Zero.”

There have also been rallies in support of mosques. One supporter of the Islamic community center is Talat Hamdani, who lost her son, a paramedic, in the September 11 attacks. She told The Associated Press that the issue “has to do with standing up for our human rights, including freedom of religion.”

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September 11, 2001 (9/11): The U.S. government says that on this day, Islamic extremists killed nearly 3,000 people at the World Trade Center in New York City. Many people question this official story and call for an independent investigation into the 9/11 attacks.