The Symbolism of the Cordoba House Project


Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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19 Responses

  1. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    One of the amazing accomplishments of the long-lived Muslim Ottoman Empire was keeping all of the religious sects of the middle east living together without them killing each other. The Turks were masters of keeping their subjects loyal, first and foremost, regardless of their faith- and their empire contained members of just about every faith imaginable. In fact, after Ferdinand and Isabella kicked the Jews out of Spain, want to guess where a lot of them went? Yep, Constantinople. And actually, largely thanks to the Inquisition, the population of Salonika was about 1/3rd Jewish until the Nazis showed up during WWII. And when the Jews left Germany before the war, and the US notoriously rejected them, guess who took them? Yep- the Turks.Report

    • Avatar lukas says:

      @Rufus F., well, that worked for them for a while, but then it blew up in their faces. Nowadays the Balkans and Asia Minor are lethally nationalist.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. says:

        @lukas, Right but what happens in the Ottoman Empire is no different from what happens in Europe, starting with all these different regions liberating themselves from Napoleon- suddenly everyone who speaks the same language has to have their own ‘nation-state’ and can’t possibly live under the authority of someone of another nation. This spreads to the Ottoman Empire starting with the Greeks and indeed eventually breaks up the empire, often with the help of eager Europeans like Lord Byron. We all have to form groups along the lines of “The Young ______s” and fight for our independence. Then, once we get that, we decide we can’t live with people of a different nation, or we have to get revenge against some group that used to have it good when we had it bad- or get rid of some hopelessly alien group, like the Jews. I mean, most of Europe was lethally nationalist until they finally lost the taste for it after the world wars. Personally, I think if I had to choose between nationalist “liberation” or living under the “oppression” of the multiethnic empires that were the norm until the 19th century, it wouldn’t be such an easy choice. And what did we get by the final collapse of the Ottoman Empire? The first genocide in history.

        All I’m saying is, 1. here you have this “Muslim” empire that, for centuries, acts about like the European empires did instead of slaughtering the infidels or whatever, and 2. most of the “Islamist” movements today are much more closely tied to the old nationalist idea than they’d like to admit. The irony, of course, is that most of their political ideas come from Europe, either via nationalism or fascism (which were, of course, closely connected themselves).Report

    • Avatar toray99 says:

      @Rufus F., Oh really ? Ask The Greek Orthodox Church how it is going for them in Turkey. Do some research before posting please.Report

    • Avatar toray99 says:

      @Rufus F.,
      This is perhaps the first time that a major American TV network has dared to broadcast coverage of the discriminatory practices of the repressive Turkish regime against Greek minorities. It appears that CBS was able to withstand intense pressure Ankara and highly-paid Washington lobbyists that routinely try to censor programs that expose the Turkish government’s abusive behavior.

      Not surprisingly, various Turkish officials, including Pres. Gul, reacted angrily. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu disingenuously suggested that the Greek Patriarch should have submitted his complaints to the authorities in Ankara. The Foreign Minister acted as if he was unaware that for years countless complaints had been lodged by the Patriarch about the injustices suffered by his people. The Turkish government not only has remained unresponsive to these complaints, but has carried out a deliberate policy of harassment and intimidation to force thousands of Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians and Jews to abandon their homes and businesses and relocate overseas.

      60 minutes correspondent, Bob Simon reported that “at the turn of the last century, there were nearly 2 million Orthodox Christians in Turkey; 1.5 million were expelled in 1923, and another 150,000 left after violent anti-Christian riots in Istanbul in 1955. Today, in all of Turkey, there are only 4,000 Orthodox Christians left.”60 Minutes also reported on its website that “Turkish authorities have seized Christian properties and closed Christian churches, monasteries and schools.” The Greek “parishioners are afraid that the authorities want to force Bartholomew and his church — the oldest of all Christian churches — out of Turkey.” The Turkish government “would be happy to see the Patriarchate extinguished or moving abroad, but our belief is that it will never happen,” Bartholomew told Bob Simon.Periodically, the harassment of Greeks and other minorities becomes deadly, as was the case with Armenian journalist Hrant Dink who was assassinated in January 2007 in front of his Istanbul newspaper office. In fact, just as Simon was ending his tour of the Greek Patriarchate’s headquarters, a Turkish policeman reported that there was a threat on Bartholomew’s life. Previous threats had been serious enough for the Turkish authorities to place cameras and barbed wire around the Patriarchate and provide the Patriarch with 24-hour protection.
      Simon was soon to uncover that despite its Islamist façade, Prime Minister Erdogan’s government routinely violates the tolerance preached by the Prophet Muhammad who had written a letter to the Greek monastery on Mt. Sinai almost 1,400 years ago, offering protection and religious freedom to Christians. Simon lamented the fact that Muhammad’s message of goodwill had not been put into practice by the Turkish authorities. The Halki School of Theology, the only Greek Orthodox seminary in Turkey, was closed down by the government in 1971. Since Turkish law requires that all priests and Patriarchs be native Turkish citizens, the shutting down of the seminary made the training of new priests impossible, jeopardizing the Church’s continued existence in Turkey.
      Unfortunately, CBS completely ignored the fate of Armenians and other persecuted minorities in Turkey, never once mentioning any of them! In fact, Simon seemed to be deliberately ignoring their existence.

      In one particular segment of the program discussing the location of the Greek Patriarchate in Istanbul, Simon went as far as describing the neighborhood as having been “Greek and Christian.” This was yet another attempt to avoid acknowledging the Armenians. Without diverting attention from the trials and tribulations of the Greek Orthodox Church in Turkey, Simon could have made a passing reference to Armenians — the country’s largest Christian minority – who also suffered many injustices, including genocide!Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        @toray99, here, I’ll field this one:

        Oh, like Arizona is doing anything different.


        • Avatar toray99 says:

          @Jaybird, What ? Are you retarded ?
          Explain how the two relate.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            @toray99, What what?


            Control of immigration and the forcible emigration of people who moved into the country illegally falls under the right and proper use of democratically represented government power, no?Report

          • Avatar toray99 says:

            No you don’t get it. Like I said do some research before posting.
            The Hittites were first. Not Arabs.Report

            • Avatar toray99 says:

              The collection of roughly 200 Hittite laws, complied in a single work in two tablets, contain laws of different periods showing a constant development towards milder and more humane punishment. The most primitive clause prescribes drawing and quartering for an agricultural offense. Other capital crimes are rape, or in case of a slave, disobedience and sorcery.

              Slavery was severe. The master had the power of life and death. In most cases, it is stated that a animal was to be substituted for the man and a compensation of some sorts was paid. The spirit of Hittite law was more humane then that of the Babylonian or Assyrian legal codes.

              The Hittite weakness was that they never had a reliable native population. It was solved by the settlements of deportees, who retained royal control even when put beside native communities.Report

  2. Avatar greginak says:

    very true. also what rufus said is true. but i think you are over thinking the stupidity of this grinch “idea.” Secular government hadn’t been invented. every king, queen,duke and whatever else were tied to religion. if they didn’t have a specific god they were ruling in the name of, they were at least seeking the approval and cooperation of the local god and church. There were no legitimate rulers without some religion. There are plenty of examples of christian rulers being murderous bastards. does he really think jews did all that well under christian rule……moron.Report

  3. Avatar Michelle says:

    I find the fact that they want to tear down a perfectly good, 150 year old building, because it does not fit their desired use, to be the best reason to tell them to build it somewhere else.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:


      I find the fact that they want to tear down a vacant former Burlington Coat Factory to be a sign of urban renewal. Have you seen the building?Report

      • Avatar RTod says:

        @Jason Kuznicki,

        That’s all well and good if we were just talking about Burlington’s adult, oversized London Fog-like overcoats. But what about their children’s-line toddler rain slickers?

        Good god in heaver, why won’t anyone think of the children’s-line toddler rain slickers?Report

  4. Avatar KenB says:

    I’m in the this-is-no-big-deal camp on the question in general, but I don’t see what the practices of 10th-century muslims have to do with anything . Those who are expressing concern are worrying about the message that gets communicated to Islamic extremists (and perhaps would-be extremists, sympathizers, etc.) — I’m guessing that those folks will interpret this in the light of their own contemporary understanding of their religion and the world, regardless of what anyone else might find in history or the holy texts.

    In general, these questions are overwhelmingly (religio-)cultural, not historical or scriptural — browsing through texts is not going to produce a relevant answer one way or the other.Report

    • @KenB, I think the point is to demonstrate that opponents of the project have no idea how Islamic extremists will interpret the project, much less the average Muslim, and that the justifications that they are giving to demonstrate otherwise are complete hooey.Report