Of course, I’ve been watching the Mosque at Ground Zero controversy closely for some time, even a bit before it burst into the scene of most people’s awareness apparently. Before the ridiculous rant by Keith Olbermann hit the interwebs where he goes on about how the mosque is NOT a mosque at all, but actually a “cultural center’ with um, a “prayer room” on one of the many floors. Prayer room? Ah, I think that is where Muslims pray and that would make this a mosque sir. But whether you want to call it a Mosque, a “cultural center”, or just “Park 51” it is a controversy and building. While it is certainly the “right” of Muslims to build any kind of religious structure they wish to, and the government cannot shut them down, since we do have religious freedom in this country, that doesn’t mean – it is actually a good idea. Any half-assed study of Islam can tell you that when Islam achieves a victory, they erect a triumphalist monument to that victory, often a mosque where a church once was, or in the case of Jerusalem, the “Dome of the Rock” where the Jewish “Temple Mount” once stood. This mosque is sure to look like victory to Jihadis and sympathizers worldwide, and – they are worldwide.
Christopher Hitchens was initially very skeptical of many of the critics of the proposed mosque, however, after looking more closely at Imam Rauf’s actual views he writes:
I do not find myself reassured by the fact that Imam Rauf publicly endorses the most extreme and repressive version of Muslim theocracy. The letterhead of the statement, incidentally, describes him as the Cordoba Initiative’s “Founder and Visionary.” Why does that not delight me, either?
Emboldened by the crass nature of the opposition to the center, its defenders have started to talk as if it represented no problem at all and as if the question were solely one of religious tolerance. It would be nice if this were true. But tolerance is one of the first and most awkward questions raised by any examination of Islamism. We are wrong to talk as if the only subject was that of terrorism. As Western Europe has already found to its cost, local Muslim leaders have a habit, once they feel strong enough, of making demands of the most intolerant kind. Sometimes it will be calls for censorship of anything “offensive” to Islam. Sometimes it will be demands for sexual segregation in schools and swimming pools. The script is becoming a very familiar one. And those who make such demands are of course usually quite careful to avoid any association with violence. They merely hint that, if their demands are not taken seriously, there just might be a teeny smidgeon of violence from some other unnamed quarter …
The above is thanks to Jihad Watch which I highly recommend!
And, here the article quoted from Slate – A Test of Tolerance
The “Ground Zero mosque” debate is about tolerance—and a whole lot more
No, Rauf’s views are not actually reassuring, I agree with Hitchens, and also with Irshad Manji. She is a lesbian Muslim who urgently desires reform of Islam and has a thoughtful, fair-minded opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal , she expresses her own emotions regarding the construction of this cultural center and mosque and asks important questions of Imam Rauf, I quote:
“Now apply this point to Park51, the proposed multistory Islamic community center and prayer space to be erected at the edge of Ground Zero. Let me be blunt about my own emotions: I am offended by its proximity to the site of 9/11. I am also disappointed that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf—who is not an Islamist—has nonetheless played crass politics unbecoming of a man of dialogue.
So far, the imam has rebuffed accusations of insensitivity. Yet he made those very accusations about the Danish cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. In a February 2006 press release, Imam Rauf announced that he was “appalled” by the drawings. He called it “willful fomentation” and “gratuitous” to republish them throughout Europe. In the following weeks, almost no U.S. newspaper printed the caricatures…
…That means setting aside bombast and asking the imam questions born of the highest American ideals: individual dignity and pluralism of ideas.
• Will the swimming pool at Park51 be segregated between men and women at any time of the day or night?
• May women lead congregational prayers any day of the week?
• Will Jews and Christians, fellow People of the Book, be able to use the prayer sanctuary for their services just as Muslims share prayer space with Christians and Jews in the Pentagon? (Spare me the technocratic argument that the Pentagon is a governmental, not private, building. Park51 may be private in the legal sense but is a public symbol par excellence.)
• What will be taught about homosexuals? About agnostics? About atheists? About apostasy?
• Where does one sign up for advance tickets to Salman Rushdie’s lecture at Park51?”
Here, the full article:
A Muslim Reformer on the Mosque
However, as to Rauf’s worldview I tend to agree more with Andy McCarthy that most likely Imam Rauf * is * an Islamist, although he may not be an actual * terrorist *. Here:
Omitting any mention of Imam Feisal Rauf’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, his praise for the principles of Khomeini’s 1979 Iranian revolution, his refusal to condemn Hamas, and his promotion of sharia
My own feeling, no ground zero Mosque/cultural center – period. I will echo Manji but with a difference… I don’t want to wait and see what this place will be, I am already certain it will not be a place of liberal Islam. Let them build it somewhere else, as they are free to. Let them build their “cultural center” and “prayer space” with good intentions toward reform of Islam away from terror and hatred of the west and western values – of human rights. With acceptance of the rights of women and at least, away from believing that gays and lesbians should be executed. Let them build it with the intention to stop murderous jihad all over the world, in the Philipines, in the Sudan, in Nigeria, Somalia, India, in the United States, the Middle East, in Russia and in the UK and the entire EU – in Canada. Let them call for Iran to stop murdering its own dissidents.