The U.S. political world seems consumed with the Park51 Islamic community center slated for lower Manhattan, but what does the rest of the world think about the "Ground Zero mosque" controversy? (Watch a Russia Today report about the anti-Islamic sentiment.) Here's a sampling of opinion from other countries:
Replace "mosque" with "synagogue" before you judge Park51
The Jerusalem Post (Israel)
"There is no logical argument why peaceful and law abiding American citizens of the Muslim faith can’t have a mosque near Ground Zero," says Hal Goodman in The Jerusalem Post. To get a sense of how insidious and bigoted the opposition to the community center is, imagine a recession-fueled mass protest against a "synagogue near Wall Street."
"What if they opposed a synagogue?"
New York shouldn't have to put up with this provocation
Irish Independent (Ireland)
This isn't about "America's famous pluralism," says Ian O'Doherty in the Irish Independent. It's a "deliberate provocation" by Muslims giving a "two-fingered salute to ordinary Americans," and especially the "families of the 3,000 slain by Muslim terrorists." And adding insult to injury, we're told that "anyone who objects is obviously a racist, Islamophobic bigot."
"Tolerance — a two-way street"
At least America still scorns 'Islamophobia'
The Toronto Star (Canada)
"The raging controversy over the 'Ground Zero Mosque' is quintessentially American," says Haroon Siddiqui in The Toronto Star: "free of facts and logic and unapologetically exploitative of emotional issues." But as transparently senseless as the arguments against it are, its "noisy" chief opponents are at least "marginal." In Europe, "Islamophobia has gone mainstream. In North America, it is still held in disdain."
"No grounds for 'mosque' hysteria"
Build a museum, not a mosque
The Daily Star (Lebanon)
Park51's main backer, the Cordoba Initiative, has every right to build a prayer center near Ground Zero, says Jamil K. Mroue in The Daily Star. But "the last thing that Islam needs is another mosque." If anything, this brouhaha shows that most Americans are "ill-informed about Islam," and American Muslims would be better served if the project's $100 million built a "cutting-edge" Islamic cultural museum "for tourists, walk-in visitors and students."
"Fathom the faith at Ground Zero"
The American media has failed miserably
The Guardian (U.K.)
The "Ground Zero mosque" is already going to be a cultural center, says Charlie Brooker in The Guardian. And "it's not at Ground Zero. Also, it isn't a mosque." So why the outrage over a gym, restaurant, and (yes) prayer room a two-minute walk from the World Trade Center site? The useless U.S. media repeats "whichever reality-warping meme the far right wants to go viral," and "with a straight face."
"'Ground Zero mosque'? The reality is less provocative"
"Persecution" is, apparently, all relative
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)
Conservatives in the U.S. are constantly throwing out accusations of "religious persecution," says Michael Chugani in the South China Morning Post, when the Chinese government "suppresses its Christians, mistreats Tibetan monks, and roughs up Muslims in Xinjiang." But what about when American "politicians try to deny Muslims their right to build a mosque" in downtown Manhattan? Somehow that's not persecution. Why not? "That's easy. Religious persecution is when right-wing Republican politicians in the US say it is."
The controversy is about malaise, not Islam
The National (United Arab Emirates)
"The opposition to Park51 is mostly based on ignorance fueled by cynical politicians," says Tony Karon in The National. But it's only the tip of "a nasty wave of Islamophobia" that's washed over America in recent years. This "mainstreaming of Islamophobia" isn't really about religion, though — Islam is merely the latest nationalist "bogeyman." It's "a symptom of American society feeling as though it is in decline."
"Islam is the new bogeyman in a time of U.S. uncertainty"