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Opinion: Bigotry at Ground Zero

Does the mosque controversy support Bin Laden’s contention that the West is at war with Islam?

Two wars in Muslim countries with the inevitable cost to civilian life, no matter what the justification, have taken their toll. From a Muslim point of view, Muslims struggling to be free in the Kashmir are once again being brutalized by the Indian army — giving strength to the all-to-prevalent Pakistani point of view that terrorism in Kashmir is legitimate resistance.

The Caucuses have been beaten up and beaten down by Russia, Uighurs in western China are suppressed by the Chinese, and of course in the great grand daddy conflict of them all, Palestinians still languish under Israeli occupation. Even Muslims who are Israeli citizens are discriminated against.

In Europe, once-tolerant countries are becoming less so as they tie themselves up in knots discussing and making laws about what Muslim women should wear. Even Switzerland, with its long tradition of tolerance and neutrality, has taken sides by banning minarets from their storied countryside.

And now the United States, founded on the desire of people to follow their own religious practices as they please; where there were never European-type restrictions on places of worship, even in the United States moderate Muslims are being told where they can’t pray because their mosque would be a symbol of victory for terrorists.

Of course many of these Muslim fears are exaggerated. But there is enough truth in them for terrorist recruiters to gain converts. And now Muslim Americans join the list of Muslims who are discriminated against. There are too many indications that, in the years since Spet. 11, the war on terrorism is morphing into anti-Islamism. And for the Anti Defamation League to lend credence to these charges is nothing short of a tragedy.

If American citizens are driven from a place of worship because it happens to be a few blocks from Ground Zero it will forever be a monument to bigotry against every thing this country is supposed to stand for.