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Mosque debate ignores facts

By CALVIN WOODWARD
August 22, 2010

A pedestrian stops to shake Matt Sky's hand while Julia Lundy looks on as they hold signs in front of the site of a proposed mosque near ground zero in New York (AP)

A New York imam and his proposed mosque near ground zero are being demonized by political candidates — mostly Republicans — despite the fact that Islam is already very much a part of the World Trade Center neighborhood. And that Muslims pray inside the Pentagon, too, less than 80 feet from where terrorists attacked.

And that the imam who’s being branded an extremist has been valued by both Republican and Democratic administrations as a moderate face of the faith.

Even so, the project stirs complicated emotions, and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is a complex figure who defies easy categorization in the American Muslim world.

He’s devoted much of his career to working closely with Christians, Jews and secular leaders to advance interfaith understanding. He’s scolded his own religion for being in some ways in the “Dark Ages.” Yet he’s also accused the U.S. of spilling more innocent blood than al-Qaida, the terrorist network that turned the World Trade Center, part of the Pentagon and four hijacked airplanes to apocalyptic rubble.

Many Republicans and some Democrats say the proposed $100 million Islamic cultural center and mosque should be built elsewhere, where there is no possible association with New York’s ground zero. Far more than a local zoning issue, the matter has seized congressional campaigns, put President Barack Obama and his party on the spot — he says Muslims have the right to build the mosque — divided families of the Sept. 11, 2001, victims, caught the attention of Muslims abroad and threatened to blur distinctions between mainstream Islam in the U.S. and its radical elements.

A look at some of the claims and how they compare with the known facts:

___

_”The folks who want to build this mosque — who are really radical Islamists who want to triumphally prove that they can build a mosque right next to a place where 3,000 Americans were killed by radical Islamists — those folks don’t have any interest in reaching out to the community. They’re trying to make a case about supremacy.” — Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a potential 2012 presidential candidate.

_Some of the Muslim leaders associated with the mosque “are clearly terrorist sympathizers.” — Kevin Calvey, a Republican running for Congress in Oklahoma.

_”This radical is a terrible choice to be one of the faces of our country overseas.” — Statement by GOP Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Peter King of New York.

THE FACTS:

No one has established a link between the cleric and radicals. New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said, “We’ve identified no law enforcement issues related to the proposed mosque.”

Ros-Lehtinen and King were referring to the State Department’s plan, predating the mosque debate, to send Rauf on another religious outreach trip to the Middle East as part of his “long-term relationship” with U.S. officials in the Bush and Obama administrations. The State Department said Wednesday it will pay him $3,000 for a trip costing the government $16,000.

Rauf counts former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright from the Clinton administration as a friend and appeared at events overseas or meetings in Washington with former President George W. Bush’s secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and Bush adviser Karen Hughes.

He has denounced the terrorist attacks and suicide bombing as anti-Islamic and has criticized Muslim nationalism. But he’s made provocative statements about America, too, calling it an “accessory” to the 9/11 attacks and attributing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children to the U.S.-led sanctions in the years before the invasion.

In a July 2005 speech at the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Center in Adelaide, Australia, Rauf said, according to the center’s transcript:

“We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al-Qaida has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims.”

While calling terrorism unjustified, he said the U.S. has supported authoritarian regimes with heinous human rights records and, faced with that, “how else do people get attention?”

In the same address, he spoke of prospects for peace between Palestinians and the Israelis — who he said “have moved beyond Zionism” — and of a love-your-neighbor ethic uniting all religions.

___

_”Mr. President, ground zero is the wrong place for a mosque.” — Rick Scott, Republican candidate for Florida governor.

_”Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington. We would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor. There’s no reason for us to accept a mosque next to the World Trade Center.” — Gingrich.

_”Just a block or two away from 9/11.” — Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, another 2012 GOP presidential prospect.

THE FACTS:

No mosque is going up at ground zero. The center would be established at 45-51 Park Place, just over two blocks from the northern edge of the sprawling, 16-acre World Trade Center site. Its location is roughly half a dozen normal lower Manhattan blocks from the site of the North Tower, the nearer of the two destroyed in the attacks.

The center’s location, in a former Burlington Coat Factory store, is already used by the cleric for worship, drawing a spillover from the imam’s former main place for prayers, the al-Farah mosque. That mosque, at 245 West Broadway, is about a dozen blocks north of the World Trade Center grounds.

Another, the Manhattan Mosque, stands five blocks from the northeast corner of the World Trade Center site.

To be sure, the center’s association with 9/11 is intentional and its location is no geographic coincidence. The building was damaged in the Sept. 11 attacks and the center’s planners say they want the center to stand as a statement against terrorism.

___

_”There should be no mosque near ground zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. … America is experiencing an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization.” — Gingrich.

_”This religion’s plan is to destroy our way of life. … If we have to let them build it, make them build it nine stories underground, so we can walk above it as citizens and Christians.” — Ron McNeil, a House GOP candidate in the Florida Panhandle, in an exchange reported by The News Herald in Panama City.

THE FACTS:

Such opinions are shared by some Americans, while others are more reluctant to paint the religion with a broad brush and more welcoming of the faith in this country. Bush, himself, while criticized at the time for stirring suspicions about American Muslims, traveled to a Washington mosque less than a week after the attacks to declare that terrorism is “not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace.”

In any event, the U.S. armed forces field Muslim troops and make accommodations for them. The Pentagon opened an interfaith chapel in November 2002 close to the area where hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the building, killing 184 people.

Muslims gather there for a daily prayer service Monday through Thursday and hold a weekly worship service on Fridays, drawing no complaints. Similar but separate services are provided for other faiths.

___

Associated Press writers Tom Hays in New York and Anne Flaherty in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

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26 Responses to Mosque debate ignores facts

  1. Carl Nemo

    August 22, 2010 at 7:06 am

    Let’em build the mosque and the Islamic Community Center, then move on. / : |

    American’s are weak and stupid, soon to take the path of the dodo bird.

    Carl Nemo **==

  2. Marianne

    August 22, 2010 at 9:35 am

    One premise this country was founded upon was freedom of religion. The mosque should be built. To do otherwise would mean that the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 have won.
    Of course it can be argued that the terrorists DID win – they effectively destroyed this country. Because of 9/11 America sank to the despicable and cowardly tactics of torture, rendition, and imprisoning people for years in the gulag of Gitmo.

  3. Guardhouse lawyer

    August 22, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    It’s interesting that this debate is going on in this country at precisely the same time this debate is going on in Saudi Arabia:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100819/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_saudi_justice

    Looks to me as though Islam needs a new publicity agent.

  4. Bogofree

    August 22, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Just seems to me that many mosque’s become a center for fermenting hatred towards us – Western Judo-Christian society. When a “alleged” terrorist gets nabbed there is usually some piece in the news about his connection to a “radical” Imam. I guess because of our freedom of religion we can proudly say “Build it!” But does that freedom extend to becoming a center that goes beyond culture and prayer into one of become a vestibule for activities designed to destroy the very principals that allowed its construction?

    • Guardhouse lawyer

      August 22, 2010 at 5:21 pm

      Many mosques?

      According to wikipedia there are almost 100 mosques in the US. Believe it or not almost one in ten is in the state of Alabama. Go figure. There’s a mosque in Salt Lake City. A seven-minute drive away from the Mormon Temple. There’s a mosque within one mile of the end of the main runway at Langley AFB. Maybe they have SAMs salted away in the minaret. You could use this to start your very own conpsiracy theory!

      I have a request for you. Please go through that wikipedia list and nominate mosques for inclusion in your personal list of the “many mosque’s (sic)” that have become “a center for fermenting hatred towards (the United States)”. And tell us what your source was for that determination.

      My bet is that you cannot point to one mosque in the US that is a center for fermenting hatred towards the US.

      In particular I invite your attention to the Islamic Center of Washington DC, which is LESS THAN 2 miles from the White House! My GOD, they are in the Nation’s Capitol. Dear Lord, protect us now and forever after from the heathens who are going to spread their Godless wrath across our nation’s capital. A-MENNNNNNNNNNNN

      Of course, what you are probably not aware of, and perhaps don’t care, is that when the Islamic Center was dedicated in 1957, one Dwight D. Eisenhower, the then-current occupant of “the target” on Pennsylvania Avenue, as it was undoubtedly known to all the radical Islamists back then, was in attendance. As was my father, as a matter of fact. But he was a member of the radical press, and his interest in going there was apparently to make contact with sleeper agents of the global conspiracy to bring Islam into domination of the world; at least that’s what the conspiracy theorists would say now.

      The point of all this is to suggest to you that your sweeping generalization has not one iota of connection to reality, but is instead perhaps a reflection of the radical and divisive views of political hacks who do not have the slightest idea what they are talking about, but who smell yet another opportunity to further trash the United States and bring it into an undeserved disrepute.

  5. minimalist

    August 22, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    The issue is not facts, but feelings. It will take years for the facts to unravel.

  6. Jim0001

    August 22, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    Take as much time to read Shirah law as you have to bloviate and then tell me “All’s well”.

  7. Bogofree

    August 22, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Islam is an expansionist, murderous, misogynistic, death cult founded by a polygamous child-raper. Islam is an intolerant regime that requires its followers to work toward worldwide hegemony regardless of the cost.

    This is not a freedom of religion issue, but a clash of civilizations. Islam is an all or nothing deal. Those who deny this are in for a rude awakening. Take a look at Dearborn MI. Christianity has a checkered past, but Biblical Christianity, as revealed when ordinary people were allowed to read the scriptures, became something completely different, and was the basis for our secular society. A secular government is the best matrix for religious freedom.

    My sweeping generality is based on just what is present in the news. Somehow a cult that denies basic human rights, is willing to place a death sentence on freedom of expression and just happens to somehow have their paws in terrorists activities world wide is enough for me to stick with my generalizations. I am a proud atheist. How long would I last in their benevolent society?

    • Guardhouse lawyer

      August 22, 2010 at 9:46 pm

      God forbid that you should let anything like facts get in the way of your overwrought emotions, Bogo.

      You referred to my source. I looked on wiki, there was a list of mosques in the US, 97 or something like that. I didn’t see anything about 1209 mosques, though I did think the 97 was lower than I would have predicted.

      If you want to throw out sweeping generalities as fact, feel free. And also be advised that there are still people who will feel free to point out that you are stating opinions as facts. Things like:

      “Islam is an expansionist, murderous, misogynistic, death cult . . . .”

      Certainly there are a lot of adherents to Islam who go to extreme means, but the average Moslem in the US is not like that at all. And on this thread we are talking about Moslems here in the US, not overseas.

      And I particularly loved the web sites.

      The Gloria one is really charming, ALL by one man, apparently, and operating under the guise of Global Research in International Affairs. That Barry Rubin sure does a lot of writing. Too bad none of it involves research.

      I sure would like to hear your take on the “Black Muslims.”

  8. Bogofree

    August 22, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    GHL

    Almost forgot. According to your “source” there are 1209 mosques in the U.S. and not a 100.

    “There are 1,209 mosques in the United States and the nation’s largest mosque, the Islamic Center of America, is in Dearborn, Michigan.”

    Your source also details some of the more radical elements that are suppose to be present in the U.S. and how they may be proselytizing. Maybe some reading glasses would help?

    Yes….I use a broad brush and I do not apologize for it nor do I deny by obvious distrust and dislike for the cult. I am sure that many of the mosques do not have radical elements and spend all their waking moments trying to built strong bonds with the Christian and Jewish community. I am sure there is nary a negative word spoken and it is just rabble like myself fermenting distrust.

    I have not even touched upon Black Muslims.

    Some sources I have seen which no doubt do not comply with your mindset.

    jihadwatch.org
    undercoverage.net
    thereligionofpeace.com
    gloria-center.org.

    • minimalist

      August 22, 2010 at 9:46 pm

      Global caliphate.

    • Doug Thompson

      August 23, 2010 at 7:21 am

      Bobo and GHL. Tone it down now. This is the only warning that either of you will get. I don’t like the tone that either of you is using in this debate. Stick to issues and leave the personal attacks at home.

  9. Bogofree

    August 23, 2010 at 7:47 am

    Sorry, Doug, we’ll play nice!

    GHL

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_the_United_States
    Look about half way down.

    Did Black Muslims have a terrorist element? I say yes. Been enough evidence of that in the 60s and 70s.

    From a new article in Brooklyn News. Plenty out there. This is just a small story. Been some rather interesting stories on links to mosques in NY, Buffalo, Boston…..That’s if they are still part of the 50.

    http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/33/33/dtg_atlanticterror_2010_08_13_bk.html

    “Muslims living and worshipping in Downtown are refuting an FBI report that Adnan Shukrijumah, a top al-Qaeda terrorist leader, sprouted from Atlantic Avenue’s close knit Islamic community and worshipped in a neighborhood mosque where his father was an imam.”

    As I said with the sites I listed. They – obviously – do not have the high standards of Wiki. Some are nut jobs but they are my kind of nut jobs. I doubt anything that would go against your mindset or mine would be acceptable.

    Do I want myself or my daughter to live in an Islamic society? I’d be nuts to say yes. Some of the very things I have posted would possibly result in a death sentence in some countries. Do I want a society where a cartoon becomes a death sentence? A book? Yes….I am tainted by first hand experience. Of course, that could NEVER happen here.

    • Guardhouse lawyer

      August 23, 2010 at 3:56 pm

      Bogo:

      Reference the Brooklyn News article:

      The first paragraph:

      “Muslims living and worshipping in Downtown are refuting an FBI report that Adnan Shukrijumah, a top al-Qaeda terrorist leader, sprouted from Atlantic Avenue’s close knit Islamic community and worshipped in a neighborhood mosque where his father was an imam.”

      The third paragraph:

      “Yet the FBI isn’t backing away from its claims that the Saudi Arabian-born Shukrijumah, 35, spent a large portion of his adolescence in Downtown Brooklyn.”

      Let’s see. The writer of the article claims that the FBI report has this Shukrijumah “sprouting” from the close-knit Islamic community and “worshiping” at the mosque where his father was an imam.

      But the third paragraph reveals ONLY that Shukrijumah is accused by the FBI of having “spent a large part of his adolescence in Downtown Brooklyn.”

      LOTS of people spent their adolescence in Downtown Brooklyn and went on to do bad things, I am thinking. But how does the writer of the article get from that to sprouting and worshiping?

      And there is a lot of discrepancy about dates.

      Shukrijumah was born in 1975. According to the wiki article on him, he left the United States in 2001 from Florida, where he had been living and going to college; that would be at the age of 26. And according to the NY Daily News article referenced in the Brooklyn News report,

      “Adnan Shukrijumah, whose dad was a Brooklyn imam and who was raised for 15 years in a Miami suburb, takes his orders directly from Bin Laden.”

      So, he was 26 when he left the US and was raised for 15 years in Florida. How does that leave him time to have spent a “large amount” of his adolescence at the mosque in New York?

      Could it possibly be that most of the people who were asked about him in Brooklyn are telling the truth? From the time line it looks as though he left the NY area at about age 11. Could it be that the FBI report is crap? Could it be that the Brooklyn News article is crap?

      But the real point here is that there is no evidence that these US mosques are training grounds for would-be terrorists. Certainly this person was around the mosques growing up, but that does not mean that the mosque had one damned thing to do with making him what he is today. Certainly it’s likely that people associated with the mosques were at least in part responsible for his taking the path he did, but that is not the same as saying that the mosques are training grounds.

      That is sort of the equivalent of saying that the Catholic Church in Ireland was the training ground for such people as Gerry Adams, the leader of the Provos.

      • Bogofree

        August 23, 2010 at 4:55 pm

        GHL

        Have you figured out the number of mosques yet? On your source – Wiki – there is also a section of domestic terrorists activities. I see that in the case I mentioned – one of many available – it appears to be the FBI dropping the ball.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_the_United_States

        Here is a list of attacks in the U.S.

        http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/Pages/AmericanAttacks.htm

        How about The Lackawanna Six?

        How about Zazi? Maybe or maybe not?

        Of course the Ft. Hood shooter.

        http://online.wsj.com/article/NA_WSJ_PUB:SB125778227582138829.html

        Now a simple search will show a number of sites that proclaim a connection to terrorists and mosques. I have provided some earlier but to do so on my part is a waste of time since none will meet your standards.

        Now are all mosques a center of radical activity? Of course not. Are some? IMO there is enough evidence to support that.

        • Guardhouse lawyer

          August 24, 2010 at 10:58 am

          Some American criminals and their religious backgrounds:

          Timothy Mc Veigh Catholic
          Richard Nixon Quaker
          Ted Kaczynski Catholic
          Ted Bundy Mormon
          Chalres Manson Scientologist
          Gary Gilmore Mormon
          Jeffrey Dahmer Church of Christ (Stone-Campbell sect)
          John Wayne Gacy Jr. Catholic
          John Wilkes Booth Episcopal
          Charles Keating Jr. Catholic
          Billy Sol Estes Disciples of Christ
          James Earl Ray Catholic
          Al Capone Catholic
          Leopold and Loeb Jewish

          The conclusion: religion in general is a training ground for criminals. This is an extension of your logic, BOGO.

          • Bogofree

            August 24, 2010 at 12:20 pm

            You left out the real whack jobs which happen to be the right to life crowd which represent – to me – the most organized internal threat. The rest is just superfluous to the question at hand – radicalism in American mosques. If you wish to carry that debate over into other realms of religious disorder maybe someone will post an article.

            Your assessment seems like a bit of a stretch since I can’t recall any of them being linked to international terrorists organizations. Well…maybe Nixon with that Republican Party thing.

            Seems to be enough evidence on where funding is coming for some of the more radical adventurers in the United States. Think I also provided enough sources to show a connection that some mosques happen to actually be questionable. That is really the whole issue and not a avoidance diversion off topic. Again, if someone wishes to post an article of the excesses of the right to life crowd I will gladly join in. I would also wonder where some of the funding comes from regarding some of the more domestic Christian cults. Another topic.

            GHL Here are the FACTS on the number of mosques. Glad to provide you with the information.

            http://www.aina.org/news/20080213165617.htm
            http://www.islamfortoday.com/historyusa4.htm
            http://www.allied-media.com/AM/

  10. Bogofree

    August 23, 2010 at 8:05 am

    Doug

    I saw your exchange with another poster on another thread. Nasty stuff. Do you ever put yourself on double secret probation?

    • Doug Thompson

      August 23, 2010 at 9:04 am

      When someone gets in my face they usually regret it. It’s a lesson everyone here should learn.

      • Bogofree

        August 23, 2010 at 9:33 am

        It’s good to be king, Doug….I love that Mel Brooks line. LOL!

        • Doug Thompson

          August 24, 2010 at 8:23 am

          No, it’s not good. It’s a pain in the ass but it is one that can, and will, be cured.

    • griff

      August 24, 2010 at 10:21 am

      Don’t ever ask Doug a simple question.

      • Bogofree

        August 24, 2010 at 12:23 pm

        He needs a rich and powerful consort to make life easier. My wife’s pension is greater than mine so it does work.

  11. dvl666

    August 23, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    The 3 people most opposed to the ‘mosque’ Newt, Sarah and bin Laden.
    Calling this a mosque is like calling a hospital with a chapel a church.
    As our troops shedding blood in Afghanistan try to win over the “hearts and minds” of the locals the idiotic right wing neo-cons who supposedly Support the Troops are the poster children for Al quida and the Taliban.
    Imagine a US trooper trying to explain our democracy to a local, whose iman has already told him that in “Tolerant, democratic America the infidels allow two strip clubs near ground zero but not a place for Moslems to worship.
    As they would say about Newt and Sarah when I was growing up, ” they could f*** up a one car funeral.”

  12. minimalist

    August 23, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    First amendment rights under assault at every turn.

  13. woody188

    August 23, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    The plot thickens: The CFR/Globalist/Zionist Hegelian Dialect New York Mosque Conspiracy or things that make you go hmm.