Thursday, August 26, 2010

Irshad Manji's Questions for the 'Ground Zero Mosque'

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Irshad Maji suggests that both sides of the "Ground Zero Mosque" debate have been emoting more than thinking. To cut through the clutter, he she suggests that the following questions be posed to the Cordoba House/Park 51/Whatever Is Is This Week organizers:

• Will the swimming pool at Park51 be segregated between men and women at any time of the day or night?

• May women lead congregational prayers any day of the week

• Will Jews and Christians, fellow People of the Book, be able to use the prayer sanctuary for their services just as Muslims share prayer space with Christians and Jews in the Pentagon? (Spare me the technocratic argument that the Pentagon is a governmental, not private, building. Park51 may be private in the legal sense but is a public symbol par excellence.)

• What will be taught about homosexuals? About agnostics? About atheists? About apostasy?

• Where does one sign up for advance tickets to Salman Rushdie's lecture at Park51?

Well, sure. And next time a Catholic or Baptist church gets built in Manhattan, we should be putting those exact same questions forward as well! Either they let Larry Kramer preach from their pulpits, or they hate America!

Look, I'm under no illusion that even a "moderate" Muslim congregation would conform to my -- or any liberal's -- criteria for "right thinking." That's not really the point of this whole exercise for the so-called "tolerance" crowd. "Americans have the opportunity right now to be clear about the civic values expected from any Islam practiced at the site," Manji writes -- and that's the problem with this whole debate. Muslims are being held to a different, higher standard than the rest of us. That's not right.

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