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‘I Support the Islamic Center,’ Dromm Says

Daniel Dromm (Photo via Daniel Dromm on Twitter)

Aug. 11, 2010 Letter to the Editor

Councilman Daniel Dromm

As an openly gay man and progressive elected official, I am weary of anything that smacks of fundamentalism or other form of extremism. That is why I thought carefully about the reasons I support the Islamic Center. I did not find anything in the building of the Islamic Center or the people behind it that indicated extremism or even insensitivity. New York City has a wonderful opportunity to lead the world on interfaith dialogue and understanding. From the Flushing Remonstrance to one of the first woman-led Islamic prayer services in modern times, New York has been the site of many milestones in the history of religious freedom.

Muslims died that terrible day in 2001 seared forever in our memories.  Their families suffer just as much as every other family affected.  To say one families’ grief is more worthy of public recognition and deference shows a deep insensitivity and, more troubling, a failure to recognize our neighbor’s pain simply because of their religion.  We mourn with Muslims.  We remember with Muslims.  We work with Muslims to make sure this never happens again.  That is why I welcome the Islamic Center and any other effort to strengthen the freedoms that make our country great.

With the historical memory of nations ripped apart by religious strife, the Founding Fathers drafted our Constitution, including the First Amendment protections of religion.  Like those bloody European conflicts, a violent interpretation of religious text and tradition provided the ideological ammunition on 9/11.  The proof of the wisdom of the First Amendment is the myriad of religions in this country that have coexisted with a harmony barely imaginable over two hundred years ago.  As many disagreements we might have with certain adherents and leaders, we can never deny them the right to worship how they please.

One of the most transformative moments I have witnessed in my life happened on the campaign trail last year as I was running for City Council.  A young Muslim woman wearing a hijab attended a candidates’ night in our local synagogue.  She enthusiastically greeted my responses to questions posed by the moderator and audience members.  While I appreciated the support as a political candidate, I thought about how proud I was to be a New Yorker.  Here I was, the founder of Queens LGBT Pride being cheered on by a hijab-wearing Muslim woman in a Jewish place of worship!

The dialogue that will move all of us forward begins in such moments.  The healing that so many Muslims and non-Muslims crave begins in such moments.  For me “healing” after 9/11 means celebrating and learning about difference but also drawing together around a common humanity.  Would this not irk the Taliban and Al Qaeda more than anything?  Such a clarion vision is not simply pie-in-the-sky idealism.  Practically speaking, such “healing” is necessary to reduce the very real threat that radicalization poses.  Muslim places of worship that reach out to the wider community are not the threat.  Quite the opposite, they are critical to the healing that can begin here and spread to the corners of the globe where they are so desperately needed.

Daniel Dromm
Chair, Immigration Committee
New York City Council

email the author: news@queenspost.com

9 Comments

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Sunnysider

I would like to mention a fact that people love to distort in this debate: this building is NOT a mosque. A JCC isn’t a synagogue. A YMCA isn’t a cathedral. And this building will not be a mosque.

Extremist Christians commit heinous crimes in this country every year. Of course, nothing comparable to the international scale of 9/11. But no one would ever say a church couldn’t be built near the site of a deadly civil rights showdown, or abortion clinic bombing. Saying most Muslims are like Al Qaeda soldiers is like saying most Christians are like KKK grand wizards.

American democracy is supposed to prevent an oppressive majority from taking the rights from a vulnerbale minority. Yes, the power comes from the people and yes the people have a right to make as much noise (free speech) as they want on either side of a debate. But NO ONE has the right to take someone else’s rights away. Rights protected in our Constitution. No one has the right to say, “You can’t worship here.”

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pay attention

Old school: please note that the Councilman who sent a letter to the editor of this blog is not the same Councilman who is opposed to (yet another) pawn shop opening up in his district. To be clear: Jimmy Van Bramer is the Councilman for District 26 where the pawn shop intends to open. Daniel Dromm is the Councilman for District 25 and has written a letter to this blog for publication to share his (that is DROMM’s) views on the mosque.

TWO different people talking here!

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old school

So – let me get this straight –
Local Councilmen are “for” a mosque near the WTC pit where many of us have friends and relatives whose remains and souls still blow around – and it is an “outrage” have the balls to even consider asking for “concessions” or heavens forbid “compassion”.
But
Local Councilmen are “against” a business that provides a service that some may disagree with, but can be useful in this economy. They have the balls to stand up and challenge him. (Pawn Shop – other post on this site.)

It is logic like this that makes me think (as crazy as it sounds) the tea baggers may be on to something.

Ask the mosque to move a few blocks away. Ask their leaders for TRUE interfaith dialogue; let’s see if THEY can show compassion. If their answer is no – we know the true intentions of that site choice.

Let the guy open up the pawn shop and leave him alone. If you see something shady- call the PD.

City Council – grow some balls…. get real…

Many people that “oppose” this mosque just have many concerns and questions that need to be answered. They feel ignored and shut out by all this feel good nonsense.

Did you smell that smell down there?
Did you dig thru that crap looking for your buddies – I do not think so!!

I remember when Queens was TOUGH and people spoke their minds – not what they thought people wanted to hear.
What is happening?

Reply
Adam

If it’s okay to oppose an Islamic Center near the WTC site, does this mean I can openly oppose any type of Christian Church near any abortion clinics? Or can we stop VFW’s being opened near federal buildings?

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Marilyn

Are you “weary” (meaning tired or exhausted) of anything that smacks of fundamentalism? Or do you mean “wary” (on your guard)?

I’m just a fundamentalist when it comes to spelling.

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Time's Up

Bless you councilman. It’s a shame that it has to be considered “brave” these days to support the 1st Amendment.

Now, if we can only put our collective energy into opening a new investigation of the events surrounding that tragic day. That is, one whose Co-Chairman doesn’t state was “set-up to fail.”

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Tempus_Fugit

This guy may be gullible enough to buy the politicially-correct, touchey-feeley, kumbaya baloney that this Islamic center’s purpose is “interfaith dialogue” but I am not. It’s a deliberate insult. Islam means submission. You can submit or live in dhimmitude, but I will not.

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