Muslim Youths Weigh In On Mosque Debate

You know how in South Park, when adults argue, it always breaks down to “rabble-rabble-rabble”? If not, just check out the video above to see what I mean before you continue reading.

This is a lot like what the mosque debate sounds like these days. A bunch of adults shouting back and forth, repeating the same things and making no headway. An aggressive venting of dissatisfaction. “Rabble rabble rabble!”

It’s one of my favorite recurring jokes in South Park, because it so succinctly captures the relentless immaturity of feuding adults, which stands in stark comparison to the show’s children. The kids’ simple logic and reliable calm usually prove an able foil to the grown-up bologna of prejudice, jealousy and over-excitement.

All of this prologue, of course, is not to say adults are always silly while the world through kids’ eyes is often the purist and… er… truthiest.  But the show makes a good point: a child’s insight shouldn’t be ignored; it’s worth consideration.

So I was mighty impressed when Daily News hit the streets of Sheepshead Bay to talk to some of the area’s Muslim youths about the controversy surrounding our local mosque. After all, during my own interviews with Muslim neighbors, they rarely said, “I want a mosque so I can travel less to pray.” Instead, it was nearly always, “My children need a place nearby to understand the religion, and to be taught under proper guidance. They need a place to go after school. My family wants a say in the organization that will help instruct my child.”

And, let’s not forget, too, that a large part of the mosque is being dedicated to use for children: classrooms, computers and a recreation room for youth programs.

If so much of this mosque is about the children, what do the kids have to say about the controversy? Here are the quotes from the Daily News report:

  • “It gets really packed in the mosque,” said Hussain Hussain, 17, who travels 45 minutes to his Bensonhurst mosque. “Many of the mosques we have are very far away.”
  • “It would help get us to better interact with each other,” said Muna Mohamed, 16. “If you have any questions, there’s a place you can go to ask and find out even more.”
  • “New York is a diverse place,” said Fatima Saleh, 18. “If Jews have the right to build their own place of worship, Muslims should have that same right also.”
  • “Sports activities and education would be taught in the mosque,” said Hussain Hussain, 17. “Many kids would be off the streets.”
  • “This is a community,” said Mohamed. “We are living in the same community, and we need to try to get along with each other somehow.”

I surely don’t mean to advance any point of view on this situation by bringing you these quotes. It’s simply a reminder that these children are affected by the tone and temper of the conversation going on around this establishment. And, with how involved they’ll be with the mosque if and when it’s established, their opinions ought to be considered.