Park51 stirs debate on campus

By Megan Herrera

Assistant News Editor

For Nadir Sharif, a graduate student at the University, the answer to the question of whether or not to build an Islamic community center near ground zero is simple—yes.

“The United States of America is a nation composed almost entirely of immigrants, and what makes it great and unique is its constitutional guarantee to respect all individuals and groups regardless of their racial, religious, or cultural backgrounds,” Sharif said. A Muslim, Sharif is a graduate assistant for the International Student Services.

“It would be a giant leap backwards if the community center was not built because of public opposition. Like several leaders in the U.S. have expressed, as long as no law is violated by the construction of the community center, its construction should be allowed,” he said.

As of May of 2010, the New York City community board approved construction for the Muslim Community Center unanimously. This $100 million project covers the construction of a 13-story community center. The community center will house a “fitness facility, auditorium, restaurant, library, 9/11 memorial, mosque and more,” according to the Flor-ala.

The building will be built on the Park 51 property in Manhattan, located two blocks from the World Trade Center site. This project, originally called Cordoba House, has stirred mixed emotions and feelings from New Yorkers and people nationwide.

Although many were hundreds of miles from the locale of the attacks, University students still feel a personal pull toward the issue.

Elena Latzen ’14, a New Yorker who has experienced the devastation the 9/11 attacks caused said that the issue is difficult to grapple with.

“On one hand, I think having a mosque at or near ground zero sends a message of religious acceptance and tolerance,” she said. “The hate that led to the 9/11 attacks was, in a sense, fostered by a lack of this kind of acceptance in the world,” she said.

On the other hand, Latzen said she can see why the construction of the center has stirred up so much controversy in the media.

“I can also see how this would be a very painful daily reminder to people of the horrible events that took place that day,” she said.

Whether or not this community center should be built is still up for debate, but as of now, the center will be built no matter what others say.

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