Irish families who lost loved ones on 9/11 have spoken out against the proposed building of a mosque and community center near Ground Zero.
The family of Damian Meehan, who died at the World Trade Center while working for finance firm Carr Futures, feels that a mosque only two blocks from Ground Zero would be “disrespectful” to those who died during the biggest terrorist attack ever launched on U.S. soil.
Damien’s sister Janine Meehan, whose parents are from Co. Donegal, spoke to the Irish Voice on behalf of the Meehan family.
The Meehans feel erecting a mosque so close to Ground Zero, “a sacred ground,” would be utterly wrong.
“Ground Zero is the resting place of all the poor souls that have not been identified,” said Meehan.
The Meehans feel that if the proposed mosque is really “about praying and healing” then the religion of Islam could agree to “move elsewhere” to allow the families affected by 9/11 to heal properly.
“The truth is, this mosque is not about healing. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf that leads this mosque stated that this horrible event was America’s doing 19 days after 9/11,” said Meehan angrily.
She recalls only too well the bitter days following 9/11.
“As we waited to hear that our loved ones were safe, the soldiers of Islam celebrated this great victory and the cowardly terrorists were now in heaven enjoying their time with their promised virgins,” said Meehan.
Instead of building a mosque, the Meehan family suggests building a place where the people of America can begin to heal.
“Build a place where the families can visit to be close to their loved ones. Build a memorial that we can visit and fulfill our promise that we would never forget,” Meehan said.
The Meehans maintain that the focus should be on keeping the memory alive of “our fallen heroes.”
The family of Brendan Dolan, only 37 when he perished at Ground Zero on 9/11 while also working as a broker and senior vice president for Carr Futures, shares the same sentiments as the Meehans.
Brendan’s brother Thomas Dolan spoke to the Irish Voice from his vacation in Nantucket on Tuesday on behalf of the Dolan family.
“We think it is very, very insensitive to open up a mosque so close to Ground Zero,” said Dolan, whose mother hails from Co. Roscommon and father from Co. Cavan.
“We are not at all opposed to Muslims, and people have the right to practice their religion and open mosques wherever they might want to, but in this particular case to open a mosque a couple of blocks away from Ground Zero is very insensitive to all the people who died there, including my brother.”
Dolan respects that the radical Islamists that are using Islam to justify their terrorist ways are in the minority, but to open a mosque a few blocks away from the place he lost his brother would be “a shame.”
Dolan feels that having the mosque so close to Ground Zero could also be a “lightning rod” for future terrorist plots.
“This is just another way for extremists to wage war against the west,” said Dolan.
“You could have a lot of potential terrorists coming to this country in one way or another to go and look at the 9/11 remain site and then go to the ground zero mosque.”
The solution, said Dolan, would be to relocate it somewhere else in the city.
“So many lives were devastated by 9/11. Brendan worked really hard and built a very good business and career for himself, and to have this happen to him at 37 and leave a wife and two children that myself and my two other brothers have been helping out is just devastating. Knowing that this mosque could be just around the block is even more devastating,” he added.
Co. Cork native Ron Clifford lost his sister Ruth and his niece Juliana during the attacks. He feels erecting a mosque and community center next to Ground Zero would be “extremely insensitive.”
“The problem that I have is not with the mosque, it's the location. I do think it is extremely insensitive. There are many other places in New York City where they can build this without such fanfare. Why have are they so bent on this place?” asks Clifford.
“By yielding to the public cry to not construct the mosque near Ground Zero and electing to build it in another location they would be able to further leverage the voice of the vast majority of Muslims who condemn terrorism. This would be the right thing to do,” he told the Irish Voice on Tuesday.
Clifford said the remains of his sister and his four-year-old niece are still scattered throughout the site at Ground Zero.
“It has been nine years and I live it every day,” he says.
Clifford said he is not fully convinced that Feisal Abdul Rauf intentions are genuine.
“The Cordoba Institute's Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf says a mosque and community center will help bridge the gap and bring healing between Muslims and non-Muslims.
“I am suspicions because it is a known fact that that it is Islamic tradition to build on top of an area that you've ‘conquered.’ In their culture this is what they call a soft Jihad,” said Clifford.
“The argument should not be about freedom of religious rights, and the issue should be examined more closely. The 9/11 families and victims deserve a little more respect.”