I had occasion to walk around Ground Zero over the weekend and, as I did, consider the claim of defenders of the mosque that it’s not really at Ground Zero. This is true in the sense that it’s not in the pit. But by this standard, very little is at Ground Zero. The 9/11 Memorial Preview Site, for instance, is not at Ground Zero because it’s down the block a bit. And no tourists ever visit Ground Zero, because they merely stand some distance from the pit. The defenders of the mosque are quite right that it is out of direct sight of Ground Zero, roughly two blocks away in a heavily commercialized area. But it’s very much in what once would have been the shadow of the World Trade Center and was reportedly damaged in the attack. If you wanted to locate a mosque at Ground Zero, it’s hard to see how you could get much closer. The title of the Malyasian edition of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s book, A Call to Prayer from the World Trade Rubble, is not far from the mark, and Ground Zero mosque seems an appropriate, loose way to refer to his project.
UPDATE: An e-mail:
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July 13, 2010
“On Sept. 11, the landing gear assembly of one of the planes used in the attack crashed through the roof of what was then a Burlington Coat Factory.”