Sunday, September 12, 2010

Brody's Scribbles... Muslims Were Part Of World Trade Centre's Daily Life

By Brody Levesque (Bethesda, Maryland) SEPT 12 | The anniversary of September 11th has once again passed, thankfully. Unfortunately, the vitriolic nonsense and seemingly never-ending hate filled diatribe continues- all this noise and hatred being spewed touched off by plans to build an Islamic cultural centre and mosque some 3 city blocks away from the holy of holies, 'Ground Zero.' Which, to many Americans is regarded as the holy grail on the U. S. war on terrorism representing the attacks on the World Trade Centre Towers complex and the Pentagon, along with the unsuccessful hijacking which ended in a bad way for the hijackers as the passengers of that doomed flight forced the aircraft into the ground in a fiery crash into a cow pasture in Pennsylvania.
  The protests coupled with the unpleasant rhetoric got so bad, that finally after an obscure evangelical preacher in Gainesville, Florida was forced to back off his plans to burn Q'rans in a so-called tribute to the victims of the 9-11 attacks and in protest over the planned Islamic centre; The President of the United States called upon Americans everywhere to realise that; "We Don't Differentiate Between Them And Us -- It's Just Us," when speaking about or thinking in terms of Muslims that are also Americans.
  What is astonishing is how little these so called patriotic Americans honestly know about some of the details of the cultural centre's plans, including the fact that before the destruction of the twin towers that sunny September morning, there was a vibrant, small, but growing Muslim community that worked in the WTC complex and more importantly worshiped there in a special prayer room, which by all accounts was akin to a small mosque.
  In a special to the New Yorks Times section on Religion, columnist Samuel G. Freedman, Professor of Journalism at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, wrote about the prayer room on the 17th floor of Tower Two in Friday's edition of the NYTimes.
Samuel G. Freedman  Photo By Sara Barrett
By Samuel G. Freedman (New York, New York) SEPT 10 | Sometime in 1999, a construction electrician received a new work assignment from his union. The man, Sinclair Hejazi Abdus-Salaam, was told to report to 2 World Trade Center, the southern of the twin towers.
  In the union locker room on the 51st floor, Mr. Abdus-Salaam went through a construction worker’s version of due diligence. In the case of an emergency in the building, he asked his foreman and crew, where was he supposed to reassemble? The answer was the corner of Broadway and Vesey.
  Over the next few days, noticing some fellow Muslims on the job, Mr. Abdus-Salaam voiced an equally essential question: “So where do you pray at?” And so he learned about the Muslim prayer room on the 17th floor of the south tower.
He went there regularly in the months to come, first doing the ablution known as wudu in a washroom fitted for cleansing hands, face and feet, and then facing toward Mecca to intone the salat prayer.
  On any given day, Mr. Abdus-Salaam’s companions in the prayer room might include financial analysts, carpenters, receptionists, secretaries and ironworkers. There were American natives, immigrants who had earned citizenship, visitors conducting international business — the whole Muslim spectrum of nationality and race.
  Leaping down the stairs on Sept. 11, 2001, when he had been installing ceiling speakers for a reinsurance company on the 49th floor, Mr. Abdus-Salaam had a brief, panicked thought. He didn’t see any of the Muslims he recognized from the prayer room. Where were they? Had they managed to evacuate?
  He staggered out to the gathering place at Broadway and Vesey. From that corner, he watched the south tower collapse, to be followed soon by the north one. Somewhere in the smoking, burning mountain of rubble lay whatever remained of the prayer room, and also of some of the Muslims who had used it.
  Given the vitriolic opposition now to the proposal to build a Muslim community center two blocks from ground zero, one might say something else has been destroyed: the realization that Muslim people and the Muslim religion were part of the life of the World Trade Center.
  Opponents of the Park51 project say the presence of a Muslim center dishonors the victims of the Islamic extremists who flew two jets into the towers. Yet not only were Muslims peacefully worshiping in the twin towers long before the attacks, but even after the 1993 bombing of one tower by a Muslim radical, Ramzi Yousef, their religious observance generated no opposition.

Continue reading Professor Freedman's column here: [ Link ]


Trab said...

So what is the difference now, compared to shortly after the 1993 bombing? A disturbing right-wing extremist agenda to vilify minorities, in this case Muslims, for some kind of political benefit that remains shrouded in mystery.