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Is building a mosque UnAmerican?

Written By: aaminahm on August 22, 2010 No Comment

Last night I went to a community iftar in Oakland. I volunteered and was placed on napkin duty. As I stood there, folding napkins, I began to see all of the hungry fasters file in to the community center in preparation for our second meal in about 16 hours.
I was excited about the iftar because it was catered by Ike’s Place, a San Francisco based restaurant which sells halal sandwiches. On the menu were hot links, philly cheesesteaks, grilled chicken breasts, vegetarian meatballs, and grilled cheese along with tossed green salad, and pastry.

Many of the sisters and children gave me the greeting along with the standard three kisses on the cheek. After prayer, we began to eat and chat over our meal. We spoke mostly about our day, the fast, and our families. I cracked a joke about how I accidentally spilled water on a new Muslim last week, and I haven’t seen her at all this week. “I can’t understand it. I was so apologetic. Maybe she didn’t like the lesson in wudu.”
Suddenly, as if a razor cutting the edge off of the warmth of the evening, one friend stops and says that she is so sad to turn on the news and hear of the Ground Zero Mosque. She remarks that it is just upsetting the way that we are being attacked.

I told the sisters that I watched CNN and they spoke with construction workers who said they would never work to build a mosque near Ground Zero. “Muslims don’t like American people” one worker argued. This statement struck me as bizarre. It is ironic. If his statement were true it would mean that I don’t like myself.

I am able to trace my family back eight generations. My great great grandfather Washington Vaughan was born a slave in Brunswick County, VA. His father Frank was a laborer, and his mother Mary, a washer woman. My mother’s side of the family migrated from Virgina to New Jersey after World War II. I was born in Manhattan at Mount Sinai hospital in 1969. My mother is an English professor and my father is a retired attorney.
The day that the twin towers were attacked my mother called me in tears. I will never forget that day, and the devastation that it caused.

I grieve for the lives lost there, and for the lives lost in Iraq, and Afghanistan as a result. Should I have to justify my grief?
Unfortunately, do to the discrimination that has occurred since 9/11 many of us have been targeted. Another construction worker stated “I wouldn’t build the mosque for obvious reasons. It’s UnAmerican!” Unfortunately for him,
the Constitution defends me.

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