Religions 2011, 2(3), 297-311; doi:10.3390/rel2030297

The Park 51/Ground Zero Controversy and Sacred Sites as Contested Space

Received: 9 June 2011; in revised form: 14 July 2011 / Accepted: 19 July 2011 / Published: 25 July 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Islam in America: Zeroing in on the Park51 Controversy)
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Abstract: The Park 51 controversy swept like wildfire through the media in late August of 2010, fueled by Islamophobes who oppose all advance of Islam in America. Yet the controversy also resonated with many who were clearly not caught up in the fear of Islam. This article attempts to understand the broader concern that the Park 51 project would somehow violate the Ground Zero site, and, thus, as a sign of "respect" should be moved to a different location, an argument that was invariably articulated in “spatial language” as groups debated the physical and spatial presence of the buildings in question, their relative proximity, and even the shadows they cast. This article focuses on three sets of spatial meanings that undergirded these arguments: the site as sacred ground created through trauma, rebuilding as retaliation for the attack, and the assertion of American civil religion. The article locates these meanings within a broader civic discussion of liberty and concludes that the spatialization of the controversy opened up discursive space for repressive, anti-democratic views to sway even those who believe in religious liberty, thus evidencing a deep ambivalence regarding the legitimate civic membership of Muslim Americans.
Keywords: Ground Zero; sacred space; Islam; Muslims; Park 51; mosque; Islamophobia; Christianity; cross; religious liberty
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MDPI and ACS Style

Kilde, J.H. The Park 51/Ground Zero Controversy and Sacred Sites as Contested Space. Religions 2011, 2, 297-311.

AMA Style

Kilde JH. The Park 51/Ground Zero Controversy and Sacred Sites as Contested Space. Religions. 2011; 2(3):297-311.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Kilde, Jeanne Halgren. 2011. "The Park 51/Ground Zero Controversy and Sacred Sites as Contested Space." Religions 2, no. 3: 297-311.

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