Building Mosques on Sacred Sites of Defeated Enemies a Symbol of Conquest
by Gabriel Scheinmann
The real issue behind the controversy that has erupted over plans to build a 15-story cultural center, mosque and madrassa a few yards from Ground Zero is not only about the mysterious funding behind the Cordoba Center initiative, or whether or not its founders and backers have malign intentions. It is primarily about understanding how Muslims across the world, in particular Islamists, would view the conversion of the site of the greatest Muslim attack on U.S. soil into a Muslim house of worship. Given the long history of mosque-building following Muslim military victories, the building of the Cordoba House on Ground Zero will be seen in the same light as the Muslim conquests of Mecca, Jerusalem, and Constantinople. Whereas Americans hope that the attacks on New York City and Washington are seen as the clarion’s call for aggressive American action to counter Islamist ideology, the construction of the Ground Zero Mosque will be seen by the same Islamists as its first step towards the decline of America.
Bin Laden and his Islamists would love nothing better to plant the flag of Islam in the cultural capital of the West. This would not be read in the Muslim world as a sign of the West’s tolerance, but of its weakness. In its long history of conquest, Islam has habitually converted the sacred shrines of its enemies into mosques and madrasas. A cursory look at the world’s most famous mosques lays bare the fact that many were former houses of worships of defeated enemies.