One of the latest arguments made by proponents of the Ground Zero mosque is that there already are two mosques in the area: Masjid Manhattan (four blocks away) and Masjid al-Farah (twelve blocks away). What proponents may be missing is the difference in scale between the proposed mosque and these current mosques. Consider how the New York Times describes the closer mosque: “The Masjid Manhattan occupies a narrow basement with bare pipes snaking along the ceiling.”
And check out this description of the Masjid al-Farah, from a 2006 story in the Tribeca Trib:
Recently, the SLA [State Liquor Authority] notified three businesses on West Broadway that it is moving to revoke their liquor licenses. All four establishments are in the vicinity of Masjid al-Farah, a Sufi mosque in a nondescript two-story building at 245 West Broadway. According to the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) law, liquor licenses are prohibited for establishments that are on the same street and within 200 feet of a building ‘occupied exclusively as a school, church, synagogue or other place of worship …’ …
Tribeca Tavern owner Greg Kosovoi said that for 10 years he was unaware that a mosque was next door. Eric Benn, co-owner of the 11-year-old Bubble Lounge, said the same.
‘None of us knew there was a mosque there,’ he said. ‘What kind of research are we supposed to do? Do we knock on every single door?’
The building at 245 West Broadway, open for services twice a week, has no signage other than the following four lines, in small print, on the door:
Dergah/Nur Ashki Jurahai/Sufi Order/Masjid al-Farah
A report written by an SLA investigator and obtained by the Trib concludes that the building is indeed a mosque, but states: ‘There are no signs or any indication that there is a Mosque located in the building.’
(Incidentally, the paper reported that mosque officials “have no objection to the nearby bars and have never had problems with them.”)
Contrast these two descriptions with the NYT description of Park51 (formerly Cordoba House): “ … Park51, a tower of as many as 15 stories that will house a mosque, a 500-seat auditorium, and a pool.”
Seems unlikely that any neighborhood businesses would miss seeing that.
This just further emphasizes that the debate isn’t about whether there should be Lower Manhattan mosques or not; it’s about whether it’s appropriate to have a huge, neighborhood-dominating mosque or not.
– Katrina Trinko is an intern at National Review.