A group of concerned citizens has been raising alarms about the Islamic elements planned for the Flight 93 Memorial near Shanksville, Pa., for years. And a member of Congress has demanded the National Park Service make changes in its plans.
But there’s been no substantive response, and now the activists say it’s time for the American people to let officials know whether they want to pay for a memorial with a crescent that points to Mecca. The opponents say the configuration comprises a “mihrab,” the foundational point for every Islamic mosque. It also includes a tower designed like an Islamic sundial and 44 memorial glass blocks, one each for the passengers, crew and terrorists aboard Flight 93.
The new petition, promoted both online and on paper, tells the government simply to investigate the design of the memorial, which is to honor the passengers and crew members of Flight 93 who perished Sept. 11, 2001.
Authorities believe the hijackers may have planned to hit the White House or the U.S. Capitol. Three other flights hijacked that day by Islamic terrorists hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, killing just under 3,000 people.
The fourth jet, Flight 93, hurtled into the ground in Pennsylvania that morning, hitting at more than 560 miles per hour and creating a 115-foot wide crater. Authorities say the fuselage was driven 23 feet into the ground.
The federal 9/11 commission found while the passengers probably did not succeed in breaking into the cockpit, the hijackers crashed the plan before reaching their goal.
The stories of the passengers’ heroism have circled the globe. A British newspaper recounted recently how Tom Burnett Jr., the father of three young daughters, told his wife Deena from an onboard telephone that he and other passengers were “going to do something.”
“Another passenger, Todd Beamer, revealed in a telephone call that passengers were planning a counter-attack. His last words, ‘Are you guys ready? Let’s roll,” would become a battle cry for Americans fighting the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan. Even President George Bush has taken to using it in his speeches,” the UK report said.
Tom Burnett Sr., who has actively opposed the Islamic symbolism and has warned the National Park Service not to use his son’s name in the memorial, told the reporter, “We ought to just throw the design out and start anew because it really dishonors those who died.”
“The planned Flight 93 Memorial contains extensive Islamic symbolism. It is an insult to my son Tom, and to the other murdered heroes of Flight 93 who stopped Islamic terrorists from destroying the White House or the Capitol that terrible September day,” he wrote.
“Please consider signing this online petition that I and some compatriots have put together. It calls for a new memorial design, and for investigation of the present design,” he said.
The original proposal for the memorial, left, compared to an Islamic crescent, viewed from the same angle. The visitors’ plaza would be where t he star is.
“For those who are not familiar, the original ‘Crescent of Embrace’ design was laid out in the crescent and star formation of an Islamic flag,” he said. “Outrage over this overt Islamic symbolism forced the Memorial Project to disguise the original crescent with a few additional trees, but every particle of the original design remains completely intact in the so-called redesign.”
“The Memorial Project assumes that any similarity to an Islamic crescent has to be unintentional. Even if it WERE unintentional it would still be intolerable, but how can anyone look at that crescent and star configuration and think that it CAN’T be intentional? That is like seeing an airliner fly into the World Trade Center and thinking that it CAN’T be intentional,” he continued.
“It turns out that a person facing into the giant crescent will be facing Mecca. A crescent that Muslims face into to face Mecca is called a “mihrab” and is the central feature around which every mosque is built. The crescent memorial will be the world’s largest mosque!” he said.
“Architect Paul Murdoch says that the crescent shape comes from the hijacked airplane breaking the circle where it crosses the upper crescent tip. The flight path then continues down to between the crescent tips where Flight 93 crashed,” Burnett said. “I don’t want to celebrate the terrorist’s circle-breaking crescent-creating feat, and I certainly don’t want my son’s name inscribed on that terrorist memorializing block count.”
The petition issues a call to state and federal lawmakers to investigate the design, and then replace it with a new design “not tainted by Islamic or terrorist memorializing symbolism.”
“We demand a fitting and proper memorial that HONORS the brave men and women of Flight 93,” the petition said.
The petition is being run online, but provisions also have been made to allow people to print out a copy and collect signatures in person. The signatures all will be assembled by the end of April to be delivered during the May 3 public meeting of the Memorial in nearby Somerset, Pa., as well as members of Congress and the Pennsylvania state legislature, organizers said.
Blogger Alex Rawls, who has been active in opposing the Islamic symbols and earlier wrote a book called “Crescent of Betrayal: Dishonoring the Heroes of Flight 93,” has documented a long list of Islamic and terrorist memorializing features in the Flight 93 National Memorial.
“The Mecca orientation of the giant crescent should have long ago been headline news across the nation, and it would have been, if not for the extraordinary measures taken by the Memorial Project and the Park Service to cover up this explosive information. Project Superintendent Joanne Hanley denies the Mecca orientation of the crescent in public: ‘The only thing that orients the memorial is the crash site,’ she told the Post Gazette,'” according to Rawls.
“It has to be exact,” Hanley told me in an April 2006 conference call, explaining why she was not concerned about the almost-exact Mecca orientation of the crescent.
Rawls also was critical of experts on which the Park Service was basing its denial.
Two academics “admit the giant Mecca oriented crescent and make the most ridiculous excuses for it. Kevin Jaques, a professor of Islamic sharia law at Indiana University, notes the similarity between the Mecca oriented crescent and a traditional mihrab, but assures the Park Service that there is no need for concern, because no one has ever seen a mihrab this BIG before,” Rawls said.
“The other [expert] is a Syrian professor of Islamic architecture named Nasser Rabbat who tells the park service not to worry about the almost exact Mecca orientation of the giant crescent because it cannot serve as a proper mihrab unless it points exactly to Mecca,” Rawls said.
But Rawls, whose documentation is posted online, said many traditional mihrabs are off in the Mecca-orientation by up to 30 degrees.
He said just as bad is the proposed 93-foot-tall tower that he described as representing an Islamic minaret.
He said using it is “unsuitable” to use an Islamic symbol as a way to honor the Flight 93 heroes “or the ensuing American struggle against radical Islam that their historic last act has come to symbolize.”
“This is a memorial to the terrorists who killed those people, not a memorial to the folks who died there innocently,” said Rev. Ron McRae, head of the Bible Anabaptist Church near Jerome, Pa., about 55 miles from Pittsburgh.