MOUNT VERNON — The proposed placement of an Islamic mosque next to Ground Zero brought out strong emotions during the August session of Up for Discussion on Monday night.
“We have freedom of religion and I think we all respect that,” said a frequent participant of Up for Discussion. “This particular group wants to see the destruction of our country and have said 9/11 was the fault of the United States. This is about something far greater than freedom of religion.”
Moderator Russ McGibney pointed out that in any group it is easy to find members that are more radical than others, but many in attendance were quick to point out they feel the radicals are more the rule than the exception in this group.
“The Hamas leader has been vocal against the United States. He wants to honor the martyrs that flew into the towers,” said a woman in opposition of building a mosque at Ground Zero.
One man said the world is changing to accommodate the Muslims even in the court systems.
“We all sound racist and narrow minded but in Britain judges are using different rules for the Muslims. The writing is on the wall because we are seeing it happening in other countries,” he said.
“What [Muslims] are doing here is exactly what we are doing there with Christian missionaries trying to establish Christianity in their neck of the woods,” said another man.
The difficult discussion of the mosque transitioned to the Dan Emmett Music & Arts Festival. Most attending Up for Discussion spent some time at the festival. While general comments were positive, there were those who said they would like to see more nationally-known musical acts, including country music, as well as more to draw people downtown during the daytime hours on Thursday and Friday. Members of the group also commented that they preferred having the arts and crafts vendors on Thursday and Friday with the juried art show on Saturday and Sunday as was seen in the past.
Although not technically part of the festival, the consensus of the group was that bringing the quilt and flower shows to downtown would increase foot traffic for the shows as well as the vendors and businesses downtown.
The next Up for Discussion will take place Monday, Sept. 20, from 7 to 8:15 p.m. at Sips, 101 S. Main St., Mount Vernon. McGibney asks those participating to bring in recipes to share that utilize fresh produce.