In this faded industrial town on the Erie Canal, the old United Methodist church downtown is being turned into a mosque, the old roof topped with minarets, the crescent moon and star of Islam on new white stucco replacing the familiar red-brick facade. Like the immigrants and refugees making up an ever-increasing share of the local population and the 42 languages spoken in the local schools, it is one more sign of how much the familiar world here is fading into the past.
The article asks “Would the mosque construction have been as placid if it began now or if the congregation came from somewhere else or looked Middle Eastern rather than European? Maybe not.”
I think acceptance of the mosque is economic. Utica has many immigrants that have slowed the city’s population decline; they have been crucial to Utica’s struggling economy. In fact, Utica was recently featured by CNN as being in danger of a double-dip recession:
Because Bosnians have been so important to the economy of Utica, I think that it has been easier for Uticans to accept and welcome their right to build a mosque. Of course, accepting the presence of a mosque and accepting the truthfulness of the religion is another story, which is the reason for my book and this website.
I’ve spent years researching whether the Qur’an is the Word of God, and I have talked with Muslims from all over the world. I invite my fellow Uticans to dialogue with me about whether the Qur’an is the Word of God.