WORLD OPINION ON THE BUILDING OF A MOSQUE AROUND THE corner from Ground Zero, where more than 3,000 victims of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre--many of them Muslim--died in 2001, continues to be divided.
Some have described the proposal as an insensitive act that desecrates the memory of those who lost their lives in Al Qaeda's 9/11 act of terror. Others see it as an important exercise in bridge building between Muslims and non-Muslims.
Of all its many atrocities, Al Qaeda's most devastating act has been to establish a direct link--in the minds of many non-Muslims--between Islam and the violence wrought by its own terrorist organisation; irrational and illogical it may be, but the fear exists. And yet true Islam, like 99.99% of Muslims, is just about as far removed from the Al Qaeda doctrine as it is possible to be.
In Abu Dhabi during Ramadan, I was able to share the Iftar (breaking-of-fast meal) at Abu Dhabi's magnificent Sheikh Zayed Mosque. One of the others in my group was a German journalist named Barbara. Both non-Muslims, while enjoying Iftar and conversation with the young Muslims at our table, we also discussed the way Islam is sometimes perceived in the West and bemoaned the fact that so few seek to explore its true meaning.
I returned to London as it was commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Blitz of September 1940...