A Timely Illustration - Cordoba House


Posted on : 8/17/2010 06:17:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , , , , , , , ,

I had suggested earlier that the Islamic center proposed by Cordoba House for a location unreasonably, IMHO, near the World Trade Center site would be misinterpreted by more radical Islamists as a sort of victory.  Over the weekend, the terrorist group Hamas confirmed that my concern was valid.

A leader of the Hamas terror group yesterday jumped into the emotional debate on the plan to construct a mosque near Ground Zero -- insisting Muslims "have to build" it there.

"We have to build everywhere," said Mahmoud al-Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas and the organization's chief on the Gaza Strip.

"In every area we have, [as] Muslim[s], we have to pray, and this mosque is the only site of prayer," he said on "Aaron Klein Investigative Radio" on WABC.

Then I learned that the face of Cordoba House, Feisal Abdul Rauf, had refused to describe Hamas as a terrorist group.

Hamas first came up in the mosque debate earlier this summer when Abdul Rauf refused to describe the group as a terrorist organization -- despite the State Department listing that identifies it as such.

Tom Brown, a chief opponent of the mosque, said: "This is what we've been saying . . . Imam Rauf is a radical Muslim who will not call Hamas a terror group."

Unlike Mr. Brown, I am not certain that Mr. Rauf is an extremist.  I believe he is a moderate in the mode of other Muslim moderates.  He either lacks the spine to actively oppose the terrorism that is being conducted in the name of his religion, or he finds those actions to be perhaps regrettable, but legitimate.

We frequently hear that Islamic Jihadism represents a small fraction of the Muslim world.  We hear that there are many, many more moderate Muslims that do not support Jihadism.

Yet what we see is that larger group of supposedly moderate Muslims that continue to sit on the sidelines and pretend that their religion is not involved in diabolical acts.  Even Fareed Zakaria's recent show illustrated the reluctance of supposed Muslim moderates to voice their opposition to extremism.

Such reluctance suggests to me that one of two things are true.  One is that extremism is a much larger force in Islam than most people are willing to admit.  Extremism that is capable of cowing so many moderates is not an insubstantial movement.

The other, less palatable suggestion is that these supposed moderates more or less approve of terrorist activities as a legitimate course of action.

In any case, if there is a shortage of mosques in New York, then they should build one.....elsewhere.  The current project is too close to the World Trade Center site to permit a mosque to be built there now.

Perhaps later, after Islam has experienced their version of the Reformation, it would be appropriate to build a mosque at the currently proposed site.  Perhaps when a nation's "Islamicity" is no longer a concern.  Perhaps when other religions are tolerated in Muslim societies.

Not now.

And yet.......

Every once in a while you need to listen to the arguments on the other side.  Or perhaps just other opinions.

Mr. Obama struck an appropriate note when he argued that Muslims have the Constitutionally guaranteed right to build places of worship in accordance with the usual local zoning regulations.  He also noted that he wasn't commenting on the wisdom of that particular project being built at that particular place and at this particular time.

Was it smart to select that location at this time for a new mosque?  Hell no.

Is it their absolute right....subject to the usual local zoning laws....absolutely.  You don't spend a serious chunk of your life defending the idea of religious freedom just to toss it aside willy-nilly.

Roger Simon has a piece that I read as sarcastic criticism of those that want Mr. Obama to follow the polls rather than leading the discussion.  I didn't think much of Mr. Clinton because he was such a poll follower.  I did think quite a bit of Mr. GW Bush because he wasn't.  I appreciate Mr. Obama's character because he does try to lead; even though his ideas as to what constitutes "good governance" appear to be predominantly useless garbage, socialistic claptrap, and statist.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has some similar thoughts to share.

Then I thought to myself....self, where are the other mosques/Muslim centers in New York City?  And where exactly is this current project going to be located?

Ahem...to the first issue and *cough*....to the second.

I would certainly not ask for those existing facilities to be torn down and a few are located a similar distance from the WTC site.  Therefore it is hard to see why a new mosque shouldn't be permitted in that area.

I also ran across this background piece on Salon.com that was very informative.  And thus it appears that the folks at Cordoba House never linked their project with 9/11 or the WTC site.  Their critics did.

Anyone who has never been snookered is free to cast the first stone.  You folks that still believe in Social Security need to sit down first.

Howard Kurtz repeats and amplifies on the Salon.com story.  He includes this from Mr. Rauf

'We want to push back against the extremists,' added Imam Feisal, 61.

Permit me to suggest that Mr. Rauf could "push back" more effectively if he could clearly identify and rebuke Hamas as a terrorist organization.  He might also be more effective if he declined to participate in projects designed to accurate measure the "Islamicity" of a government.  As with other faiths, anything more than a very low measurement is an indication of a problem to be solved.

So where does that leave us.

Does Cordoba House have a right to build a mosque at the proposed location?

Absolutely.  Without qualifiers.

In light of the statements from Cordoba House and the projects financiers indicating that a certain respect for certain sensibilities is required if one wants to build dialog, was this a good location for their project?

Certainly not.  Had they had any respect for the sensibilities of New Yorkers and Americans in general, they would have looked for a different site.  Such respect is apparently unidirectional.

What would I like to see happen?

One of two options.  Either they can find a more suitable location for their project, or they can stop being so "moderate" in their opposition to terrorism and governments based on sharia law.  Being a little less tolerant of the intolerance common among Islamic jihadists would a step in the right direction.  They should fully embrace the difficulties that all religious people have in living in a pluralistic and multi-cultural country.

And work towards a truly pluralistic and multi-cultural world.

And what if I don't get my way?  What if they continue to be tolerant of intolerance and still want to build the mosque in that spot?

So be it.  Freedom of religion is one of the cornerstones of our country.

As is freedom of speech.  And my right to grouse and complain about their project is equally important with their right to build a mosque and worship as they please.

The right to worship as one pleases does not mean that your religion may never be criticized.  Welcome to the free world, folks.

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