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Well, I know this exact scenario didn’t actually happen, but doesn’t The Submission sound like a souped up version of what could have happened during that whole “mosque at ground zero” thing? 

I remember there were those two distinct sides: one side believed it was disrespectful to have an islamic worship center in the vicinity of Ground Zero, while the other side believed there was no connection between the mosque and the fact that it was near Ground Zero. But there were some of the same things being said about Islam as what was being said by the protesters in The Submission. “They’re trying to make this piece of land Dar al-Islam!” Debbie said. “Their goal is to impose Sharia, Islamic law, wherever they can, including the United States,” read a newspaper.

The building of the religious center near Ground Zero caused some people to believe that Muslims were trying to spread their “evil” religion. When people who did not mind the building of the religious center pointed out that Muslims have every right to practice their religion, just as Christians do; some responded similarly to what Debbie said in the novel, “For generations immigrants came to this country and assimilated, accepted American values. But Muslims want to change America–no, they want to conquer it. Our Constitution protects religious freedom, but Islam is not a religion! It’s a political ideology, a totalitarian one.”

If you happen to not recall this huge ordeal that actually happened, here is some proof that is freakishly similar to what is said about Islam and Muslims post 9/11. Oh, and remember that part in the book where supposedly the president of Iran supported Khan? Yeah, people thought Ahmadinejad was funding the “Mosque at Ground Zero”.  The Submission was published in 2011 and the mosque debate happened in 2009, so it is possible that this may have influenced Waldman’s novel.


4 Responses to “Didn’t This Actually Happen?”

  1. Marta says:

    Wow…I had actually forgotten about this.
    I think this is compelling evidence to support your idea that the Ground Zero mosque controversy was influential to Waldman as she was writing The Submission. Debbie Dawson’s Save America from Islam (SAFI) seems very similar to Pamela Geller’s Stop Islamization of America (SIOA); some of the protest pictures you linked look exactly like what I imagined as I was reading the book.
    One thing that strikes me about the “pro-mosque” argument is that some didn’t even deny the seeming significance of the mosque’s proximity to Ground Zero: “For us, it’s a symbol, a platform that will give voice to the silent majority of Muslims who suffer at the hands of extremists. A center will show that Muslims will be part of rebuilding lower Manhattan.” This puts me in mind of the varied and nuanced positions taken by all the characters in The Submission, be they Muslim or non-Muslim or in support of Khan or in opposition to him…especially once the Islamic influence on The Garden is revealed and people begin to refer to it as a “martyr’s paradise.”

  2. Olivia says:

    I really appreciate this post, particularly because I had thought about this myself, but not nearly in so much detail as you’ve done. During this actual controversy, I was woefully unaware of the specifics. I remember hearing about a bunch of people being terribly angry with President Obama and accusing him of being a secret Muslim, un-American, etc., and I remember people waxing poetic about the rights of American people to heal and worship together. Looking at the dates you cited for the publication of the novel and the actual event, as well as the parallels in the text, it would definitely be my guess that Waldman was influenced by the ground zero mosque hubbub.

  3. Marta says:

    I also think it’s funny that the first article that’s linked is from The New York Post, considering the role The Post plays in the book.

  4. Marta says:

    I just found a PBS interview that mentions this very topic starting at about 3:12! 😀