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Should Mosque at Ground Zero focus on security over Obama’s constitutional points? USAfrica Debate

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President Obama_hosts_islamic_iftar_at the White House August 2010

USAfrica VIEWPOINTS on BUILDING A MOSQUE NEAR GROUND ZERO AND PRESIDENT OBAMA’S POSITIONS.

The President’s key but controversial point which he emphasized at the Islamic Ramadan event in the White House on Friday August 13, 2010: “As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are. The writ of the Founders must endure….”
The following are excerpts from e-mail and the weekend August 13-15, 2010 debate on this contentious issue from one of the two USAfrica Facebook pages: www.facebook.com/usafricachido and www.facebook.com/usafrica
Ground Zero area mosque building should consider security of neighborhood over Obama’s constitutional generalizations.
Special and exclusive commentary for USAfricaonline.com and USAfrica (Houston)
By Osita Ebiem
In any true democracy it is believed that the constitution is supreme. And in the case of the United States, it is the conscientious and sincere efforts of the past and present leaders of the country in preserving the supremacy of the constitution that has helped above all else to preserve the American society and its way of life to this day. Why this is important is because once a people’s way of life has been compromised then the people are as good as destroyed.
Yet, as important as the constitution is to the survival of the society, it will be good to point out that the constitution is not an instrument drawn up to stand by itself alone without the people.  Therefore in the process of society’s administration of justice there are two distinct aspects, the spirit and the letters of the law. The letters of the law constitute the aspect which is strictly what the law says and it is a very important part in interpreting the law and making judicial decisions.
The spirit of the law has to do with the discretion of the wielders of the justice gavel. And this aspect is just as important as the other. Someone may argue as much as he wants as the law being an ass but we are yet to see when robots will start presiding over cases in the law courts.
What we are saying therefore is that there is the human face of the law. The constitution was drawn up by the people to serve the wishes of the people and not the people for the constitution. In any true democracy it is the people that come first and the majority has always won over the minority when the fundamental wishes of the few are not in any danger. Which in this case of the mosque at Ground Zero, there is no perceived wish of the advocates, freedom of religion, that is in any way being tampered with because the question is not either to build the mosque or not but where and why. The choice of the positioning of the mosque is not about what is just as much as what is right, what is right for the people.
Respecting the fact that President Barack Obama and the New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg must defend the constitution which they swore to do on taking office, but the question is which comes first in their line of defense, the constitution or the people? Or let us put it differently, if the constitution as the legal instrument of the state and the citizens come under attack at the same time, which should be saved first by these officials? The constitution is made to protect the wishes of the people in a democracy and not the people to protect the constitution to the detriment of their feelings and well-being.
A people’s set of rules or constitution may help in shaping the people’s way of life but the totality of what constitutes their way of life goes way beyond their constitution and legal system.
Good governance is only when the feelings of the majority of the governed are informing decisions and utterances of the office holders. In a democracy it is number that counts not necessarily the rightness of decisions. Also in a democracy, the President is supposed to represent the majority of the people in his positions on issues like this one because it is the majority that voted him into office in the first place.
The majority is the reason for the President’s being and he cannot afford to be insensitive to the wishes of this majority in his bid to satisfy the few whose wishes are not being threatened but rather being asked to make adjustments to accommodate the feelings of their neighbors. The most important point to note here is that the critics of the mosque site are not against the mosque but against the place and time of it. If government had become about the impersonal application of the letters of the law then we can as well hand over the running of the nation to a bunch of robots with the letters of the constitution programmed into them and, believe me they will do a better job than most of us. But before then I think the American people still have faith in the people they elect to positions of power that they will always work for their greater good and the good of the greater number which can only be done by knowing, listening to and doing what the people want.
Needless to say that this whole situation would have been avoided if the supporters of the mosque were sensitive and considerate of the feelings of their neighbors and fellow citizens.
So if one must ask, what makes the positioning of this mosque the best and only choice as against all other options? One wonders why the sponsors are insisting on building it there. Will this spot make the prayers of the Muslim faithful more effective than from any other place in New York City? If that will be the case then one can suggest that the Kaaba stone in Mecca should be moved to the site to consummate its sacredness after it is built.
What harm will be done to the Muslim faith or the Muslims in New York City if the location is adjusted to accommodate their neighbor’s feelings? Which is better, to compromise the mental and emotional well-being of the majority, 70% of the citizens or for the few people who support the mosque in that place to see reason in recognizing the feelings of their neighbors?
Building codes and permits should be granted not purely based on the rules (constitution) but also on discretion. So our question here is, when all rules have been met, has all the people been met? At the end of the day the rules, structures and buildings will not exist by themselves. It is the people that give rules and structures relevance because they are supposed to serve the people’s pleasures and, not these things that make people relevant in the society. We all agree that the society, the American society based on its constitution is open to all and all can dream equally, but every dreamer must be considerate of the neighbor’s feelings and well-being.
Most of the time, politics is about scoring points, so one may want to ask what point does anyone in support of the mosque in this contentious place want to score. Is it political, religious or constitutional point? In my opinion, whatever point it is it should be the one that strikes a good note with the people’s feelings that should be scored because in every situation where the constitution and the people are supreme, the people should win over the constitution. For those who advocate tolerance we must realize that being tolerant does not make you give up all feelings and permit all things no matter how you feel. And we want to remind the President and the Mayor that in this case the laws (the constitution) may have said to build the mosque but the people say do not.
Responses are welcome here on our USAfricaonline.com comments section and Letters@USAfricaonline.com
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The following are excerpts from the weekend August 13-15, 2010 debate on this contentious issue from one of the two USAfrica Facebook pages: www.facebook.com/usafricachido and www.facebook.com/usafrica
Ezekiel Nwakwue: I hope Obama is not shooting himself on the foot for endorsing this Muslim Mossque near Ground Zero. Another blunder of his administration. Sad indeed!
Friday at 8:44pm ·
Nosike Ndu Azubogu: Let us, some times, keep sentiments away from issues that touches the heart, especially religious issues. Muslims did not bomb the Towers, Bin Ladin and his Al-Qaeda group did; let’s get this straight. Obama’s endorsement of the Mosque is right and at the right time. The time is always right to the right thing, once said Martin Luther King, Jr.
Ezekiel Nwakwue
This argument is (neither) about the freedom of speech nor is it about the freedom of worship (religion), and all the nonsense. It is about protecting the America Sacred Land which Ground Zero has become. Nobody is prohibiting Muslims from building their Mosque all over America, worshiping and calling all of us infidels. They are welcome to build anything anywhere else in New York, and not at or near the Ground Zero.
If Obama is protecting people’s rights for worship, why can’t he ask those Muslims to build their Mosque in front of the White House? Obama is setting himself up for bigger problems during this mid term election.
I don’t need to prove to you the reason they should not build this Mosque near Ground Zero, hence you haven’t prove to me why they left other places in New York but chose that particular area to build their whatever.
Freedom or no freedom, Ground Zero is a Sacred Land for the Americans, Muslims should leave that area alone and find another place to build their Mosque.
If Muslims are allowed to build this Mosque near the Ground Zero, it will always remain a bitter reminder of 9-11. An insult to our collective existence. Meaning, yea, what can U.S. do about it? It is another “in your face” (by Muslims who plan to build the mosque).
Ground Zero is a historical Site for the Americans that Muslims should be kept out. There are many other places Muslims can build the Mosque in New York, and they should build it somewhere else.
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Barth Nwachukwu
The First Amendment states thus: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The rights of individuals cannot be subjected to political maneuvering, nor can they be open to popularity contests. That is why they are called inalienable rights; and constitutionally protected from the whims of the majority, or other groups likely to infringe on them.
Before he takes office, The President takes an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. I would argue he is standing on solid ground in this matter.
It was Voltaire, I think, the french philosopher, who aptly said ” I disapprove of what you have to say, but I will defend, to death, your right to say it.
‎LOL. Freedom and rights are nonsense to you, Ezekiel. Well, thankfully, they are not to the great majority of people the world over who would not hesitate to defend you hen yours are threatened.
Look Ezekiel, you are entitled to your emotions but you have not made one rational argument why a mosque should not be built three blocks from ground zero, on private property. I suspect you don’t have any, but you can surprise me.

Ollie Ogunmokun
I feel compelled to comment on this, even tho Nosike already hit the most important fact that many Americans (like myself, Rosie O’Donell, Jesse Ventura, and tens of millions more) have come to realize. The fact remains that America’s presence in (Islamic) countries has only increased in spite of, and oftentimes because of the violent resistance by muslims. Obviously, there is a strong likelihood that someone might attack the site if they find it as provocative as many people have already expressed, but that would only highlight the wave intolerance that is sweeping through the country. Especially because of the controversy surrounding this issue, we need to accept the building of the cultural center/mosque because
1.) It would enhance the image of our country, and show the world that we are not engaged in a holy war against Islamists, just extremists and the misguided few. In fact, allowing this would be an easier victory, albeit largely symbolic, than trying to defeat the extremists in Afghanistan with our soldiers hands tied behind their back, a very very stupid way to fight terrorism. The generals will be the first to tell you that this is NOT a war of arms, but ideas and I can’t think of a better propaganda tool to use to our advantage in the muslim world.
2.) An enemy you know is better than the one you don’t. Besides, you can bet your paycheck that all the intelligence/homeland security agencies would be on top of everything that goes on in such a building.
3.) Lastly, we are the greatest nation on the earth and 3 millenia after Cyrus the Great, it would a major step backwards for humanity and the cause of human rights if we do what feels good rather than what is right. This is America, and if we start denying building permits because of religion, then we would be on our path to Nazi Germany, and Christians in the Arab/muslim world would pay for our perceived intolerance.
It is a defining moment for the country which has seen anti-mosque protests in states like New Jersey, Tennessee, Washington, etc
Pat Ukhueduan- Izevbigie: I don’t think this is right. He (Obama) should remember that the same Muslims were the ones that brought down the Trade Center (and killed more than 3300 individuals on September 11).  To be fore warned is to be fore armed!
A rethink is needed on this issue.
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5 Comments

  1. People, Muslim does not equal extremist, and it definately does not mean terrorist or terrorist-sympathisizer. Don't let the media split us in twain. I for one stand hand-in-hand with our Islamic American citizens, against intolerance and strongly for religious freedom. I encourage everyone to join us.

  2. Am done with these (uninformed) arguments. Mr President, Ollie, Nosike and the likes, please note that a section of the Quoran states that "That unbeliever living in your neighbourhood is not worthy to live". Moreover, "All believers who succeed in killing unbeivers will secure blissful places in 'their' supposed heaven". It is this core-injunction (and others) that the fundamentalists have avowed to carry out just like the Born-Again Christians' revolutionary message of keeping tenaciously to Christ's injuctions. But the difference is that while Mohammed asked his adherents to coarse and kill, Christ asked for persuasion and allowing such to live, die and come to His Judgement. One Mosheed, writing in his book that when world and islamic leaders enjoin islamic adherents to imbibe the tenets and the life of Prophet Mohammed, either they (Islamic leaders) are trying to deceive the world as if they do not know what the fundamentalists are doing. Or the world leaders (like Obama and others) do not know about this tenetic unjunctions of the Quoran. Does it surprise anyone why Iran is dreaming of wiping out Israel from the world map. The writer of this book in circulation is being hunted for by the islamic world for assasination. Not to bother the reader any longer, allowing a mosque around any area (freedom of worlship/religion or not) is to a large extend very very very dangerous and dangerous

    1. Furthrmore, on the world and islamic leaders advising islamic adherents to imbibe the life of prophet mohammed – Mosheed wrote that the latter fought 59 wars and personally led in 29. You see. Why should his fundamentalist not fight.

  3. There's something I have found so facinating about Americans. It's the fact that they love to talk, rant and debate about just anything on the face of the earth!Day after day issues pop out and the hordes of media hosts or talkshow buffs would pounce on the topic and stretch it to beyond elasticity. Luckily President Obama has made their day once again by commenting on the 'mosque inferno'. Every Dick, Tom and Harry is jumping up and smoking with their rather smoldering contribution. No one wants to agree that this whole issue is about sentiments and not based on the constitutional right of a section of the American public to exercise their religious right to freedom of worship. They forget that time and again that the American nation is founded on equality, fredom and justice. Should a section of the American society be denied to express their right on sentiments rather than on constitutional provision?
    It's painful that lives and precious ones for that matter were lost on 9/11/01. Do we want to immortalize them by a ceasely debate over the propriety or lack of it in building an Islamic center and mosque near ground zero? If an eagle bars a fellow eagle from perching on the same tree branch with it, the rightful thing is to show the deprived eagle where to perch. Or should the eagle be left out to perpetually fly without perching? I can bet that it's just a tiny section of the muslim faithfuls that is responsible for that mayhem. Should another member of a different religious belief do something condemnable; does that amount to condemning every other believer of the same stock? Or let's be simplistic now.The one bad apple scenario does not apply all the time. It's the simple reason why I'll not decline or feel ill at ease to always introduce myself as a Nigerian to acquaintances I come accross here in the US for the simple reason that a tiny section of those who carry our green passport have messed up big time in the US.

  4. Mr. Osita Ebiem thinks The Constitution is supreme, but not quite; that is because he is also of the opinion that it should be put aside when people's emotions get in the way of its implementation.

    I would hesitate to call such a flimsy document, constitution; there is nothing supreme about it. It would be a document not worth even the paper it is written on.

    It is also bothersome to me that that Mr. Osita Ebiem doesn't seem to a problem with the fact that the rights of other Americans would have to be violated in order to give in to the whims of the opponents of this proposed Islamic Cultural Center, to include a mosque.

    To be clear, there is a time and place to argue for "the spirit" of the law, of any law, for that matter; but denying some people their inalienable rights in order to appease other people, even when such people are the majority, is an infringement of the law, it is immoral and amounts to robbing Peter to pay Paul; and whether we like it or not, someone is being robbed.

    Mr. Ebiem writes "The majority is the reason for the President’s being and he cannot afford to be insensitive to the wishes of this majority in his bid to satisfy the few whose wishes are not being threatened but rather being asked to make adjustments to accommodate the feelings of their neighbors." He makes it sound as though people all over the country are reaching out to Muslems for the construction of this Center and he knows nothing could be farther from the truth. Let me inform Mr. Ebiem, also, that freedom and rights are not a matter of popularity. Decisions, where human rights are concerned, are not number-dependent. The minority should not be made to lose their rights every time the majority belly aches.

    As some have stated here and elsewhere, Islam did not attack America, Alcaeda did; any conflation of the two is either out of disdain for the religion of Islam , and Muslems; or ignorance that makes it impossible to distinguish them.

    What harm would be done to the Muslim faith if they should move to another site? None, if you consider fundamental human rights, freedom of expression and the rights of individuals to worship as they please, without recrimination from their government and their peers, such a trivial matter. Furthermore, how much further, down the block is appropriate for a mosque? Who decides where the right place for the construction of a mosque is?

    Suppose Mr Ebiem purchases a piece of land, to build a family house, and right before the onset of construction, his neighbors learn of his Nigerian heritage and organize an opposition against his plan. They state as reason that a prospective neighbor who lives three or four blocks from the proposed house was duped by a Nigerian of his life savings, and seeing Mr Ebiem everyday, or even knowing that he lives there would be very stressful to this neighbor and a constant reminder. Mr. Ebiem suggests, by his opinion here, that he would give up his land and his desires for a home for his family, to cater to this clear case of guilt by association.

    The President's position on this issue is informed by The First Amendment and should not be subject to political gamesmanship.

    The USA' s rights and freedom are constitutionally guaranteed. What that means is that ten thousand people cannot sign a petition that says "We don't like Mr. Ebiem, and on the basis of that alone, prevent him from exercising his rights.

    We have young men and women from this country giving their lives, in sacrifice, all over the world , so people can have a taste of this thing called freedom; and yet, we have those of Mr Ebiem's kind, who regard it so trivially that they are willing to wave it on a whim.

    We have to make up our mind, once and for all. Is the US a country of laws and a binding constitution or not? The way we choose to answer that question would determine whether The United States can still claim the moral high ground in her fight against terrorism.

    To paraphrase Nietzsche, Those who have taken it upon themselves to fight monsters should ensure that, in the process, they don't become monsters themselves.

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