and sisters...for the sake of reconciliation and goodwill. Eid al-Fitr happens to coincide with the 9th anniversary of 9/11 this year, so let's celebrate relatively peaceful coexistence in America this Eid.
'Paradoxically, the public reaction has not been heated in Lebanon, a country with 18 recognized religious sects where Muslims and Christians have a long history of occasionally violent coexistence.
If the mosque were built, many Lebanese commentators said, it would increase the influence of the ideal of the secular state. Many Lebanese, however, seemed more interested that Miss U.S.A., Rima Fakih, a Lebanese-American, had suggested that Park51 seek another location, than in the debate itself.
“Let’s be honest, it is kind of weird to build it there,” said Samer Ghandour, 33. “But the U.S. is also incredibly polarized and does not tolerate Islam.”
Mahmoud Haddad, a history professor at the University of Balamand in Lebanon, said that “the Muslim community should take the high moral and political ground” and agree to move the center, even though it has every right to build near ground zero.
“They should show they are more concerned about the general good of all Americans,” said Mr. Haddad, who studied and taught in the United States for two decades. “American society refuses to accept Muslims, even of the Westernized type, and consider them as a potential risk at best.”
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the project leader, has been speaking about his Cordoba Initiative on a two-week tour of the Persian Gulf sponsored by the State Department, although he has gingerly avoided discussing the Park51 location.
“What’s happening in America is very healthy,” said Muhammad Al-Zekri, a Bahraini anthropologist, after spending an evening with the imam.
The United States, he said, was still assimilating historical influences, including Islam, into its inaccurate self-image as a solely Judeo-Christian nation. The construction of Park51, Mr. Zekri believes, will help shape that.
“We pray for the people of New York, for peace,” Mr. Zekri said solemnly. “And if it matters, we apologize for what those people have done on 9/11.”