In New York City, a debate is underway about whether an Islamic group should be allowed to build a mosque, or Muslim house of worship, near the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Those supporting the mosque's construction say they are upholding the U.S.'s freedom of religion, while those opposed say it would be disrespectful to the 9/11 victims who died at the hands of Muslim extremists.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has stood in favor of the mosque's construction, saying that the government shouldn't be able to "deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property based on their particular religion."
But, family members of 9/11 victims and many New Yorkers who witnessed the fallout from the attacks say the mosque can be built, "anywhere but here." The battle over the mosque's construction echoes several similar debates going on around the country about where to build Muslim houses of worship. In Nashville, Tennessee, for example, many citizens have protested the construction of a proposed Islamic center.
At the Pentagon, the site of another attack on 9/11, the Department of Defense has chosen to regularly hold Muslim worship services and plans to continue to do so.
The first 2 minutes and 20 seconds of this video gives a general overview of the issue, and the rest includes a discussion with two guests on the subject.
"Should government attempt to deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property based on their particular religion? That may happen in other countries, but we should never allow it to happen here." - Michael Bloomberg, New York City mayor
"They can have their mosque, but have it somewhere else. I don't want it overlooking the site where my son was murdered that day by 19 Muslim terrorists." - Jim Riches, former deputy chief, FDNY
1. What is a mosque?
2. What happened on Sept. 11, 2001?
3. What is freedom of religion?
1. Do you think a mosque should be built near Ground Zero? Why or why not?
2. What is the significance of a house of worship? Can you name other religions that have such places to worship?
3. Imagine you had lost a family member or friend in the 9/11 attacks. How do you think you would feel about the proposed mosque construction? Why?
4. If this argument were to be taken to the Supreme Court, how do you think the court would rule? Why?
The History of Muslim Sectarian Differences:
American Muslims React to Obama's Speech:
Lesson Plan: A Call to Jihad: