Professors discuss Ground Zero mosque

Four scholars discussed freedom of worship, the history of Muslims in the United States and the controversy over the proposed Islamic community center and mosque near Ground Zero Monday in what moderator Perin Gurel ’10 jokingly titled the “panel to restore sanity.”

The panelists — Yale American studies chair Matthew Jacobson who received an honorary degree in 2000, Columbia University doctoral student Zaheer Ali, PhD candidate Haroon Moghul, and Tufts University Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow Rosemary Hicks — discussed the anti-Muslim sentiment that pervades many areas of American society. For example, Jacobson said the issue of the Mosque and community center was sensationalized by the attention of an irresponsible media.

Jacobson said the problem is “a media that is lurking on a handful of extremist views.”

By focusing the attention of the public on photos of anti-Muslim protesters, the media made it seem like there was a big controversy when there was none, he added.

Ali said the right of Muslims to build mosques — or of any people to build places of worship — is not being debated by the state of New York.

“Citizens are competing with the state to draw spaces,” Ali said, referencing the controversy over who has the right to build on Ground Zero.

He added that Islamophobia can sometimes be used to express racism, since some Muslims are African-American, and that he thinks race is embedded in the notion of “hallowed ground.”

If Muslims cannot build on Ground Zero because of 9/11, Ali said, the place where Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot might as well be declared a white-free zone.

Hicks said it is important that the issue of the center at Ground Zero not be dismissed as a meaningless political argument. The episode highlights important issues in American culture such as racism and economic elitism, she said. Hicks said nationwide incidents of violence against Muslims show that the Islamic community is still not given its full rights.

People who oppose Park51 on the grounds that it does not comply with American ideals are wrong because America has never been anti-religion, Hicks said.

“[Those] who use a claim to Americanness to shut others out are demonstrating insecurity about their American status,” Hicks said.

Moghul said those who are defending the project have been having a hard time communicating their message.

The proposed Park51, which has been cleared of legal controversy, would be a 13-story building and would include a prayer space able to accommodate 1,000 to 2,000 people.


  • Summer

    > “a media that is **lurking** on a handful of extremist views.”

    Apparently not an English Professor.

    > Yale American studies chair Matthew Jacobson who received an honorary degree in 2000, Columbia University doctoral student Zaheer Ali, PhD candidate Haroon Moghul, and Tufts University Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow Rosemary Hicks

    In what I am sure was an ideologically balanced panel.

  • ChrisYoung09

    I’m not sure that “mosque” is the best – or even correct – terminology to describe the prayer room that would be a small, but albeit significant, part of the planned community center.

  • FreddyHoneychurch

    They’re building a mosque at ground zero???!!!!!

    Arise!!!, incomprehensible warrior culture!!!!

  • RexMottram08

    Every comment by the professors shows their profound incomprehension of the controversy.

    Ivory Towers are isolating places.

  • The Anti-Yale

    People have dissed the Ishmaelites since Isaac got the nod from Yahweh on Mt. Moriah and was spared from human sacrifice.

    In fact, **Anti-Ishmaelitism preceded Anti-Semitism** and is still alive and well thousands of years laters at Ground Zero in the form of Islamophobia.

    Along the way Herman Melville added to the controversy with his famous first pitch: “Call me Ishmael” (Call me the Outsider).

    If you want to read ONE version of the whole tangled mess of Anti-Ishmaelitism, see

  • Yale12

    The headline itself is misleading. The primary function of the building is not a mosque, nor will it be at Ground Zero.

  • Arafat
  • The Anti-Yale


    Don’t be so high and mighty yourself:

    Read the Judeo/Christian sacred text for blood curdling celebrations of violence

    *Deuteronmy 20: 17* (proof text for genocide)
    “But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite . . .

    And as for pillars of religion: How about eternal damnation? There’s a hatefuil bit of evil which Christianity has introduced into the world which has caused thousands of years of aberrant behavior.

    Try reading * The Book of Revelation.*

    **And stop baiting Muslims until Judaism and Christianirty have cleaned up their acts.**

    Paul Keane
    M.Div. ’80

  • yalie13

    I really can’t tell whether you’re being satirical or you’re just grossly misguided to slander 1.6 billion people like that

    that type of thinking polarizing the world and feeds radical extremists with legitimization to continue their extremism, which in turn is further simplified and mis-characterized by the west to amplify this vicious cycle. ultimately this artificial polarization ultimately leads to pointless war but starts with a simple misconceived ideas

    and the only true victors of this are the politicians who prey off this polarization and fear for votes/legitimization (if you’re a politician in an undemocratic society)

  • Arafat

    Anti-Yale, the Muslim apologist, does not understand Islam.

  • The Anti-Yale

    I am hardly an apologist for any religion, alhtough I do look kindly on Transcendentalism

    I understand fanatacism, whether it masquerades under the name Jim Jones or Osama Bin Laden. Every religion has had its fanatics—–even Christian Science.

    Don’t kid yourself : A single, currently excessively scrutinized, religion is not the exclusive province of this deformity.
    Consult the following link


  • 3lmcity

    **Tony Kez posts Islamophobic stuff in all of his posts. Do a search of his posts.**

  • Jaymin

    “He added that Islamophobia can sometimes be used to express racism, since some Muslims are African-American, and that he thinks race is embedded in the notion of “hallowed ground.””

    Based on what!?!?! I didn’t go to the panel, but I hope Ali provided some empirical evidence to back up this otherwise BS and nonsensical assertion. As far as any reasonable analysis of the rhetoric indicates, those against the mosque are concerned about Muslims, not black people.

    Also, if you’re going to hold a four person panel on something, can’t you go our of your way to invite someone on the other side of the issue? It can’t be that hard, given that nearly 60% of the public is against the mosque.

  • The Anti-Yale

    Is Islamophobia a phobia, or is it simply hatred?

    Homophobia was based on ‘conversion fear”‘(they might make me or my son or daughter a ‘homo”) and fear of destabilzing the reproductive unit, FKA (formerly known as) ‘the family’.

    What is Islamophobia based on? “Conversion fear”? Hardly.

    “Terrorism fear”? Maybe for the first year after 9/11. But now?

    It is simply hatred. And perhaps that hatred is rooted in the subconscious suspicion that Islam’s anti-materialism might be correct.

    And as for its patriarchal anti-feminism? Is it any more egregious than the cumulative effect of a 2000 year old non-genetic patriarchal dynasty currently operating out of Rome?

  • Congested

    I believe most Americans oppose having a mosque near Ground Zero, simply because it is in bad taste. Although 9/11 occurred nine years ago, most of us have vivid memories not only of the images we saw in the various media; but also the feelings of insecurity, fear and sense of loss continue to haunt us. I’m not sure anyone alive on that horrible day will ever get over the event and its various effects. I do not hate Muslims but I believe the supporters of this proposed facility near Ground Zero could have been more sensitive to their fellow Americans, especially those who lost loved ones on 9/11.

  • The Anti-Yale

    *I believe most Americans oppose having a mosque near Ground Zero, simply because it is in bad taste.*

    **By this logic it would ALSO BE IN BAD TASTE to put a Christian worship edifice (aka church) any where near a mosque in Jerusalem since in 1099 Godfrey of Bouillon led a Crusade on Jerusalem which slaughtered over 40,000 Muslims(TEN TIMES **as many **Muslims** as the number of *victims* killed in the Wolrd Trade Center attacks on 9/11/2001


    Godfrey of BouilloIn

    *If Bohemond was cruel, Godfrey’s conquest of Jerusalem was barbaric. The crusaders forced their way into Jerusalem on the 15th of July 1099. For the next two days there was ensued a continuous massacre by them of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, both Muslims and Jews. The carnage is preserved for posterity by many eye-witness account. Given below is one taken from Gesta Francorum (The Deeds of the Franks):
    The defenders fled along the walls and through the city, and our men pursued them killing and cutting them down as far as Solomon’s Temple, where there was such a massacre that our men were wading ankle deep in blood … Then the crusaders rushed around the whole city, seizing gold and silver, horses and mules, and looting the housing that were full of costly things. Then, rejoicing and weeping from excess of happiness, they all came to worship and give thanks at the sepulchre of our saviour Jesus. Next morning, they went cautiously up the temple roof and attacked the Saracens, both men and women [who had taken refuge there], cutting off their heads with drawn swords … Our leaders then gave orders that all the Saracen corpses should be thrown outside the city because of the stench, for almost the whole city was full of dead bodies … such a slaughter of pagans had never been seen or heard of, for they were burned in pyres like pyramids, and none save God alone knows how many they were . . . [8]

    Wonderful sights were to be seen. Some of our men (and this was more merciful) cut off the heads of their enemies; others shoot them with arrows, so that they fell from the towers; others tortured them longer by casting them into flames. Piles of heads, hands and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city. It was necessary to pick one’s way over the bodies of men and horses. But these were small matters compared to what happened at the Temple of Solomon, a place where religious services are normally chanted … in the temple and the porch of Solomon, men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins. Indeed it was a just and splendid judgement of God that this place should be filled with the blood of unbelievers since it had suffered so long from their blasphemies. [9]
    A total of about 40,000 Muslims were killed in that two-day massacre of Jerusalem. [10. . .

  • Perin

    It is disheartening to see such a nuanced and complex panel misrepresented by YDN and attacked by random commentators who haven’t even attended the event.

    Prof. Jacobson is misquoted and all the nuance has been taken out of the speakers’ comments. Now this panel, which was meant to elevate the discourse on the issue, is being used for the same mindless and ignorant drivel one finds on right-wing blogs.

    “For” or “Against” is not the only way to view this discussion. This panel was meant to historicize and contextualize the madness. I hope YDN will amend the misrepresentations as soon as possible to restore our faith in it as an intelligent media source. And I hope those who have not attended the event will practice some restraint in their comments.

  • Goldie08

    America has been building ground zeros near Iraqui mosques since 2003