Not All The 9/11 Families Oppose The “Ground Zero Mosque”

Of the all the emotionalism that has been raised during the course of the debate over the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque,” the one you hear most frequently is the idea that building an Islamic community center two blocks away from Ground Zero is somehow an insult to the memories of the victims of September 11th. Indeed, some of the 9/11 families have been part of the opposition, but not all of them:

Herb Ouida, whose son Todd died in the attacks, says he supports the Cordoba Initiative’s project.

“To call it a mosque is not right. It’s a community center that includes a prayer center,” Ouida told AOL News today.

The 68-year-old father from River Edge, N.J., says he is deeply concerned about the tone of some of the opposition to the project.

“What we are doing [when we oppose the community center] is we are saying to the world that we are at war with Islam. And we can’t be. I want my grandchildren to live in a better world,” he said.

“To say that we’re going to condemn a religion and castigate a billion people in the world because they’re Muslims, to say that they shouldn’t have the ability to pray near the World Trade Center — I don’t think that’s going to bring people together and cross the divide.”


On 9/11, Marvin Bethea rushed to the World Trade Center to try to save lives, and has had trouble breathing ever since. The former Emergency Medical Services worker says he had to retire in 2004 when the breathing problems he acquired from toxic materials at the site made it too hard for him to work. But Bethea said he supports the Islamic center anyway.

“Even though my life has changed, I don’t hate the Muslims,” Bethea, 50, said. “Especially being a black man, I know what it’s like to be discriminated against. I’ve lived with that.”

Bethea believes racism is stoking the controversy.

“I understand the families are hurt and lost,” he said. But “how do you sit here and condemn all Muslims as being terrorists?” he said. “That’s just bigotry and hatred. We’re a better nation than that. The diversity that we have, this is what New York is about. But we have such prejudices, some of us. We have a long way to go.”


Charles Wolf of New York City lost his wife, Katherine, in the attacks. “She was a wonderful girl,” said Wolf, 56.

He said he supports the Muslim community center “100 percent.”

“I’m not going to brand any group for the actions of a few of the fringe,” Wolf said. “The fact that the extremists who did this to us have now moved us in this direction through our fear and hatred, to be exactly like them … it will come back to haunt us.”

“This country was founded on the principles of religious freedom for all,” he said. “Are we doing to start denying that to people? If we start doing that we start dismantling the values this country was founded upon.”

There is, understandably, a lot of emotionalism in the responses of the survivors and their families, but let’s not put forward the lie that all the 9/11 families are united on this, or that supporting this project means you don’t care about the people who died that day.

FILED UNDER: Religion, Terrorism, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Jeff says:

    nobody but you is putting forward that lie … nice strawman …

    and to many people it is not “somehow” an insult … it is an insult to many and if you can’t understand why then you are being deliberately obtuse …

    When was the last time you visited Ground Zero ? when you did were you able to pay your respects to the loved ones, friends or co-workers you lost there ? I hope so because then you would understand how it could be an insult … not somehow an insult …

  2. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Doug, no one made the claim that ALL 9/11 FAMILIES are opposed to the building of the Islamic center at Ground Zero., I fail to understand why you are being obtuse. Are you trying to convince the 30% of Americans who agree with you? Politically, it is a loser. You cannot seem to grasp that, while therer may be a right to build the Islamic Center, it is far from the right thing to do. You kind of remind me of a dog I once owned. He liked to roll in shit. Bathe him and the first thing he would do is find something smelly to roll in. There are rumor that the backers of this project are starting to back away from the idea as it is creating a lot of animosity toward Islam. That is obvious to all but you Doug and a few of your confederates here in the echo chamber.

  3. wr says:

    Hey Zelsy — How do you think the 9/11 families felt when the Republicans in congress blocked funding for health care for ailing first responders? Somehow I suspect that they 9/11 families would have wanted those who endgangered their lives attempting to rescue their loved ones to be taken care or — but there wasn’t a right-wing outrage patrol demanding they be polled, and that their wishes be followed.

    To that point, Zels, I don’t remember you screaming that we should help these authentic American heroes. Because let’s face it — you don’t give a damn about them or the families, except when you can use them as a vehicle for spreading your fear and hate.

    What a sad little man you are. I hope some day you are able to get a job, claw back some of your self-confidence, and no longer have to spend your days twisted into a fetal position, fearing the world.

  4. anjin-san says:

    > How do you think the 9/11 families felt when the Republicans in congress blocked funding for health care for ailing first responders

    The guys who got sick after being assured by Bush and Guilliani that the site was safe to work on…

  5. anjin-san says:
  6. anjin-san says:

    > Politically, it is a loser.

    Hence the interest in the issue from the right – hey we can bash Obama with this…