Friday, September 24, 2010
Thousands of True Americans Respond to Call for Donations to Islamic Center
1 of 1
By Michael Moore
I knew that many of you would respond to my call to help out the embattled Islamic community center being built in lower Manhattan. I asked each of you to send a dollar (or five or ten) to their nonprofit organization, Cordoba Initiative, as a symbolic act against the bigotry Muslim Americans are facing. To help kick it off, I promised to match dollar-for-dollar up to $10,000, hoping to raise somewhere near that number by the end of this week.
That's not what happened.
Within hours of posting that blog on Saturday, so many thousands of you had responded, we were already far beyond the $10,000 goal. In fact, as of this morning, we're estimating that the funds raised from you have exceeded an amazing $50,000!
The people at the Islamic center are very appreciative that so many thousands have chosen to come forward in support of America and our First Amendment. And I, too, want to express my gratitude. (Anyone can contribute by clicking here.) Times are tough economically, and supporting our Muslim brothers and sisters is not a popular thing to do right now. I am truly touched by your generosity -- and people around the world will know that you, too, represent an America they rarely get to see.
I'd like to share some of the notes we've received from some of you this past weekend along with your donations:
Here's my donation. I'm a Presbyterian from Kalamazoo who has a friend who was on the plane that crashed near Pittsburgh (on 9/11).
Please find enclosed my receipt for my $5.00 donation. I am in the process of losing my house, but I will not ever lose my Soul. That was a great letter, I made the donation with out thinking about it twice. Thanks for matching it. Bless your heart.
From Rabbi Yonassan Gershom:
I am Jewish, and it is now the Jewish High Holy Day season, when it is traditional to give extra charity. I am donating $18 on behalf of my wife Caryl and I, as a gesture of fellowship and solidarity. (The number 18 in Jewish numerology is the number for life -- Hebrew letters chet (8) + yod (10) -- and it is traditional to give in multiples of 18.) Please, Imam Rauf, do NOT sell out to those who want you to move the Center -- that would be a victory for bigots, heaven forbid. Build it where it is planned, in peace, pride, and freedom! Peace-salaam-shalom!
I wish I could have donated more, but I'm unemployed and money is really tight.
Thanks for matching this, Mr. Moore.
What could be more appropriate than doing this on 9-11? Rock on, Michael.
I'm not sure you will ever read this, but I want to thank you for your
message you wrote on the mosque. It is exactly how I feel. Thank you
for expressing so eloquently and perfectly what needed to be said.
Keep up the work you're doing!
I want you to know that this is the first time i have donated money to a cause, other than donations to my religion (The Baha'i Faith, which you may not know has one of it's intrinsic values to be freedom of all religions: taking them as one single faith.)
I am active, by which i mean emailing my senators, in other areas such as protecting women's rights and gay rights, but i never donate to them. They are always asking for money, no matter what happens, and it feels like throwing money into a pit in the ground. So i draw the line at emails, I have too big a heart so i have to have good strong boundaries. ;) I never even donate to Obama, and i love Obama (but i don't trust his staff).
I guess i want you to know that you have something really good going on: you have my trust. And in donating to the occasional causes you deem worthy, i think what i am really doing is saying thank you. Thank you. =)
What the blog says is what I BELIEVE with all my heart. Nothing better could
have been written on 9/11. Many, many thanks. I am honoured to know you.
I wish you all the best and I HOPE, with your initiative and hard work and
with people like me supporting your efforts, we will be able to make a
For the Muslim center in NYC...
Michael, I'm not working and it's really a rough time for my husband and me, financially, but I wanted to do something nice for someone on 9/11, so I'm contributing to this cause. Love, love, love your emails, and you!
I wish I could have donated more but have been out of work for many, many months. Still, I wanted to make a token donation because I was very moved by the email I received from Michael Moore.
My thanks to Mr. Moore for, as usual, cutting through the BS and opening my eyes a bit wider to the truth.
First of all, I should state that I am not a fan of yours. I find the "style" that you tend to use to be...well, offensive. I do recognize that is probably intentional on your part as a way of driving home your points, but it puts me off enough that I don't bother.
I tend toward being a conservative...though that's probably more "fiscal" than "social". As a retired military man of 23 years, I am still embarrassed by the use of Don't Ask Don't Tell by the military rather than allowing homosexuals to openly serve. I'm certain you feel the same on that subject, at least.
And finally, I am an agnostic atheist (I don't believe in any God, but I recognize that I really don't know if one exists or not). So I'm not particularly moved to think in glowing terms when the subject of religion is broached, because I tend to see the negatives of religion rather than it's positives.
All that being said, I just want to say that I loved the article you wrote regarding the mosque being built in NYC and "this not being America any more". As I mentioned in my opening, I don't find myself in agreement with you very often. But this article was spot-on.
I am much more than a bit of an idealist still, and in my view, it is precisely for things like this mosque that I served. I don't mind the uproar over it, because that is those folks' right to free speech also, but I certainly think it should be built.
Thank you for the article.
I've worked in stamping plants (in Warren) and as a welder/machinist (in Detroit, near the Budd plant by City Airport) to put myself through college. I know what the working class went through to get a fair deal (my grandfather knew Walter Reuther). I have friends and relatives back in Michigan who are struggling - big time - to hang on. I don't know what we can do to raise class consciousness when our country is dominated by corporate controlled media (and the ultra-rich who own it) . Thank you for reminding America (again) how a decent human being behaves and what our country actually stands for. You make me proud to be from Michigan.
I live on Social Security and rarely can donate - but your compelling
invitation urged me to do more than cheer.
Thanks Michael for all your work.
Thank you for making it so easy for me to donate a little something to the Cordoba House project. It is the perfect way for me to show what I think of the situation.
This project, which was initiated as a way of reaching out to non-Muslim Americans with a message of Peace, Love and Understanding has been twisted and distorted by those who are trying to sow discord and destruction among us. More than them, we should blame all the politicians and media folks who have either remained silent or fueled the fires of hate each time they say the lying phrase "Ground Zero Mosque."
Here is my donation. This is the one and only donation I have made for 2+ years due to my financial constraints caused by an illness. Thank you for being you,
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Michael Moore's daily blog
I am opposed to the building of the "mosque" two blocks from Ground Zero.
I want it built on Ground Zero.
Why? Because I believe in an America that protects those who are the victims of hate and prejudice. I believe in an America that says you have the right to worship whatever God you have, wherever you want to worship. And I believe in an America that says to the world that we are a loving and generous people and if a bunch of murderers steal your religion from you and use it as their excuse to kill 3,000 souls, then I want to help you get your religion back. And I want to put it at the spot where it was stolen from you.
There's been so much that's been said about this manufactured controversy, I really don't want to waste any time on this day of remembrance talking about it. But I hate bigotry and I hate liars, and so in case you missed any of the truth that's been lost in this, let me point out a few facts:
1. I love the Burlington Coat Factory. I've gotten some great winter coats there at a very reasonable price. Muslims have been holding their daily prayers there since 2009. No one ever complained about that. This is not going to be a "mosque," it's going to be a community center. It will have the same prayer room in it that's already there. But to even have to assure people that "it's not going to be mosque" is so offensive, I now wish they would just build a 111-story mosque there. That would be better than the lame and disgusting way the developer has left Ground Zero an empty hole until recently. The remains of over 1,100 people still haven't been found. That site is a sacred graveyard, and to be building another monument to commerce on it is a sacrilege. Why wasn't the entire site turned into a memorial peace park? People died there, and many of their remains are still strewn about, all these years later.
2. Guess who has helped the Muslims organize their plans for this community center? The JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER of Manhattan! Their rabbi has been advising them since the beginning. It's been a picture-perfect example of the kind of world we all want to live in. Peter Stuyvessant, New York's "founder," tried to expel the first Jews who arrived in Manhattan. Then the Dutch said, no, that's a bit much. So then Stuyvessant said ok, you can stay, but you cannot build a synagogue anywhere in Manhattan. Do your stupid Friday night thing at home. The first Jewish temple was not allowed to be built until 1730. Then there was a revolution, and the founding fathers said this country has to be secular -- no religious nuts or state religions. George Washington (inaugurated around the corner from Ground Zero) wanted to make a statement about this his very first year in office, and wrote this to American Jews:
"The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy -- a policy worthy of imitation. ...
"It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens ...
"May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants -- while everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid."
3. The Imam in charge of this project is the nicest guy you'd ever want to meet. Read about his past here.
4. Around five dozen Muslims died at the World Trade Center on 9/11. Hundreds of members of their families still grieve and suffer. The 19 killers did not care what religion anyone belonged to when they took those lives.
5. I've never read a sadder headline in the New York Times than the one on the front page this past Monday: "American Muslims Ask, Will We Ever Belong?" That should make all of us so ashamed that even a single one of our fellow citizens should ever have to worry about if they "belong" here.
6. There is a McDonald's two blocks from Ground Zero. Trust me, McDonald's has killed far more people than the terrorists.
7. During an economic depression or a time of war, fascists are extremely skilled at whipping up fear and hate and getting the working class to blame "the other" for their troubles. Lincoln's enemies told poor Southern whites that he was "a Catholic." FDR's opponents said he was Jewish and called him "Jewsevelt." One in five Americans now believe Obama is a Muslim and 41% of Republicans don't believe he was born here.
8. Blaming a whole group for the actions of just one of that group is anti-American. Timothy McVeigh was Catholic. Should Oklahoma City prohibit the building of a Catholic Church near the site of the former federal building that McVeigh blew up?
9. Let's face it, all religions have their whackos. Catholics have O'Reilly, Gingrich, Hannity and Clarence Thomas (in fact all five conservatives who dominate the Supreme Court are Catholic). Protestants have Pat Robertson and too many to list here. The Mormons have Glenn Beck. Jews have Crazy Eddie. But we don't judge whole religions on just the actions of their whackos. Unless they're Methodists.
10. If I should ever, God forbid, perish in a terrorist incident, and you or some nutty group uses my death as your justification to attack or discriminate against anyone in my name, I will come back and haunt you worse than Linda Blair marrying Freddy Krueger and moving into your bedroom to spawn Chucky. John Lennon was right when he asked us to imagine a world with "nothing to kill or die for and no religion, too." I heard Deepak Chopra this week say that "God gave humans the truth, and the devil came and he said, 'Let's give it a name and call it religion.' " But John Adams said it best when he wrote a sort of letter to the future (which he called "Posterity"): "Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it." I'm guessing ol' John Adams is up there repenting nonstop right now.
Friends, we all have a responsibility NOW to make sure that Muslim community center gets built. Once again, 70% of the country (the same number that initially supported the Iraq War) is on the wrong side and want the "mosque" moved. Enormous pressure has been put on the Imam to stop his project. We have to turn this thing around. Are we going to let the bullies and thugs win another one? Aren't you fed up by now? When would be a good time to take our country back from the haters?
I say right now. Let's each of us make a statement by donating to the building of this community center! It's a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization and you can donate a dollar or ten dollars (or more) right now through a secure pay pal account by clicking here. I will personally match the first $10,000 raised (forward your PayPal receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org). If each one of you reading this blog/email donated just a couple of dollars, that would give the center over $6 million, more than what Donald Trump has offered to buy the Imam out. C'mon everyone, let's pitch in and help those who are being debased for simply wanting to do something good. We could all make a huge statement of love on this solemn day.
I lost a co-worker on 9/11. I write this today in his memory.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
The Associated Press - 1 hour ago
NEW YORK — The imam behind plans for an Islamic community center near ground zero writes in a newspaper that the facility will include "separate prayer ...
Imam vows to identify funders of planned NY mosque
AFP - 1 hour ago
NEW YORK — The imam heading a planned mosque near the New York site of the September 11, 2001 terrorist strikes said he has been awed by controversy over ...
Rauf: Mosque will move ahead
Politico (blog) - Maggie Haberman - 3 hours ago
In his first words in weeks about the controversy surrounding his planned mosque and ...
What would you ask the imam behind the Islamic center near ground zero?
CNN (blog) - 8 hours ago
CNN has secured an exclusive interview with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf , the man behind the proposed Islamic center near New York's ground zero. ...
Imam behind NYC mosque back in US after Gulf trip
The Associated Press - Cristian Salazar - 18 hours ago
NEW YORK — An imam who has become the public face of a proposed Islamic community center and mosque near ground zero has returned to the United States ...
In His Gut
The Atlantic (blog) - 18 hours ago
I wouldn't close my eyes or our eyes to the increasing number of both naturalized and native-born citizens who enlist in the Islamic terror networks of our ...
New York Imam Says Islamic Center Will Proceed
Journal of Turkish Weekly - 22 minutes ago
The US imam leading plans for an Islamic center near the site of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York says the project will continue. ...
Cordoba House Imam Breaks Silence
Daily Beast - 51 minutes ago
The chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, the group behind the building of an Islamic cultural center and mosque in downtown Manhattan, broke his silence ...
What Imam Rauf has unleashed
WND.com - 1 hour ago
Shortly before returning to the US after his State Department Mideast tour, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said in Abu Dhabi that the viral furor over his ...
Imam: Park51 Project Must Move Forward
NY1 - 2 hours ago
The Imam at the center of the controversial Park51 project in Lower Manhattan says he won't move the location of the proposed Islamic center. ...
Rauf touring on our dime?
Fredericksburg.com - 2 hours ago
Would some defender of the present order please provide the identity of the genius who concluded to send this Imam Rauf fellow off on a taxpayer-paid tour ...
Muslims praying at Pentagon irrelevant
Fredericksburg.com - 2 hours ago
The Aug. 19 article titled "Muslims pray at Pentagon" has no bearing on the situation regarding the proposed mosque in New York. The fact that Muslims pray ...
Imam not backing away...Pastor's Quran burning plan...Wind fans fires
Kansas CW - 3 hours ago
By AP NEW YORK (AP) — The imam behind the plans for an Islamic community center near ground zero says it's important Americans "not back away" from the ...
How Moderate is the "Ground Zero" Imam?
FrumForum - 3 hours ago
With the ongoing “Ground Zero Mosque” firestorm and the bigger battle over Islam in the United States, the founder of the proposed mosque/cultural center, ...
Imam Of Proposed Ground Zero Mosque Breaks Silence
CBS New York - 3 hours ago
NEW YORK (CBS 2) – After months of keeping quiet, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is responding to criticism about the proposed Islamic community center and mosque ...
Imam's remarks not controversial
Virginia Tech Collegiate Times - 4 hours ago
by Letter to the editor This is in response to Stephen Biernesser's letter “Ground Zero debate not so simple,” (CT, Sept. 2) about the Ground Zero mosque. ...
Rauf: 'We are proceeding' on Muslim center
UPI.com - 4 hours ago
NEW YORK, Sept. 7 (UPI) -- The imam of the Farah mosque in New York said Tuesday "we are proceeding" with plans for Cordoba House near Ground Zero despite ...
Imam defends mosque in editorial
7Online.com - Jennifer Matarese - 4 hours ago
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, executive director of the Cordoba Initiative, arrives at a Muharraq, Bahrain, mosque where he led midday prayers Friday, Aug. ...
Mosque Man Breaks Silence on Paper
NBC New York - Hasani Gittens - 5 hours ago
AP The holy man at the center of the raging controversy that has become known as the "Ground Zero Mosque" -- really a YMCA-like Islamic ...
Imam behind Islamic center near Ground Zero to break his silence
CNN Political Ticker (blog) - 7 hours ago
(CNN) - The Imam behind the controversial Islamic Center and mosque near Ground Zero will break his silence on Wednesday. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, ...
Hutchinson News - 10 hours ago
This growing upheaval over the plan of the New York Muslim community to build an Islamic Center near the sad emptiness of the WTC site is so misguided. ...
Pinellas Muslims strong in numbers, culturally diverse
Tampabay.com - Waveney Ann Moore - 14 hours ago
Imam Abdul Karim Ali counted himself among a small number of Muslims in the Tampa Bay area when he converted to ...
Ground Zero Mosque: A Solution
Miami New Times (blog) - Lee Klein - 15 hours ago
As we all know by now, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has offered to build a mosque and Islamic cultural center in the ...
Means to an end
Muncie Star Press - Kevin Wingate - Sep 7, 2010
According to an expert on political Islam, more than 60 percent of the Quaran "talks ill of unbelievers or calls for their violent conquest or subjugation," ...
WashMo.com (blog) - Sep 6, 2010
So we have this Imam that wants to build a mosque slash cultural center, within spitting distance of the two gapping holes in the ground that was once the ...
Imam Feisal Rauf -- Sharia Uber Alles!
American Thinker (blog) - Andrew G. Bostom - Sep 6, 2010
There is nothing "nuanced" about Imam Feisal Rauf's belief in the primacy of Sharia (Islamic Law) in society -- any society. ...the American political ...
Sharia - Women at Risk
American Thinker (blog) - Eileen F. Toplansky - Sep 5, 2010
In this video entitled "Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf: Sharia and the US Constitution are the Same" which can be found on the lower right hand side of the site, ...
Imam: NYC Islamic center to include other faiths
The Associated Press - 1 hour ago
NEW YORK — A proposed Islamic community center near ground zero will include separate prayer spaces for Muslims, Christians, Jews and people of other faiths ...
Imam: We are proceeding with NYC Islamic center
CNN - 4 hours ago
By the CNN Wire Staff CNN's Soledad O'Brien has an exclusive interview with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf on "Larry King Live" Wednesday at 9 pm ET. ...
NY imam: Mosque project won't be stopped
msnbc.com - 4 hours ago
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, a leading figure for Islamic center project, is shown on a US government-sponsored trip in the Mideast. ...
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
By Rabbi Bruce Warshal*
To begin, the mosque controversy does not involve a mosque. It is planned as a 13-story community center encompassing a swimming pool, 500-seat performing arts center, gym, culinary school, restaurant and, yes, a prayer space for Muslims, which already exists in the current building. A formal mosque would forbid eating or the playing of music on the premises. I guess that we are now at the point in America where Jews can have our JCC’s and Christians their YMCA’s, but Muslims are not wanted.
There is also the controversy over the proposed name, Cordoba House. The hate-mongers have described this as a reference to Muslim designs to attack western culture, hearkening back to the Muslim-Christian wars of domination in medieval Spain. The name was chosen for precisely the opposite reason. In the tenth century Cordoba was the center of the most liberal and sophisticated Caliphate in the Islamic world. All religions were not merely tolerated but respected.
The caliph, Abd al-Rahman III, had a Jew as his foreign minister and a Greek bishop in his diplomatic corps. He also had a library of 400,000 volumes at a time when the largest library in Christian Europe numbered merely 400 manuscripts. There were also 70 other smaller libraries in Cordoba. The very reference to Cordoba reflects the sophistication and liberality of the Muslims behind this project. They have changed the name of the center to the address of the building, Park 51, to deflect criticism. This was unfortunate, since nothing will quiet a hate-monger.
Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Imam behind the proposed community center, has been attacked as an Islamic terrorist, even though he is a practitioner of Sufi Islam, which reaches out to all other religions as manifestations of the Divine. My God, the conservative Bush administration utilized Rauf as part of an outreach to the Muslim world. You can bet your life that he was thoroughly vetted by our government. He is currently being used by the Clinton State Department as well in the same capacity. Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek and CNN succinctly put it, “His vision of Islam is bin Laden’s nightmare.”
And what is Rauf’s sin? He will build a Muslim community center two blocks away from Ground Zero, variously described as a “hallowed battlefield,” “holy ground,” and a “war memorial.” Even President Obama in his defense of religious freedom commented that, “Ground zero is, indeed, hallowed ground.” I beg to differ.
If Ground Zero is holy ground, then the railroad station in Madrid, the Underground in London, the federal building in Oklahoma City, the Pentagon (where there is presently a prayer space for Muslims – yes, patriotic, religious Muslim Americans work at the Pentagon) and every other physical location that has been the object of terrorism is holy ground. If Ground Zero is holy space why plan for it to be developed with office buildings (in which the object will be to amass money – obviously a holy pursuit), a shopping center (in which consumer goods will be peddled to continue to gorge the American appetite for material possessions), and with a theater for modern dance (a project to which I personally look forward as a devotee of the Joyce, the modern dance Mecca of New York)? I’m sorry, but someone has to tell America that this designation of holy space is merely part of a mass hysteria that really scares me.
The question which must be asked is why this hysteria? The impetus comes from a triumvirate of right-wing Christians, Jews and politicians. Fundamentalist Christians are still fighting the crusades, still vying to convert the world to their truths. Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, to the distress of these Christian proselytizers. What better way to win this battle than to brand all Muslims as terrorists?
Right-wing Jews think that they are doing Israel a favor by painting Islam as a terrorist religion thereby proving that Israel need not negotiate with the Palestinians. The idea is to project the concept that we are civilized and they are not. This theme is picked up in the right-wing press of Israel. Commenting on the New York proposed “mosque,” a columnist in the Jerusalem Post declares that “Islamism is a modern political tendency which arose in a spirit of fraternal harmony with the fascists of Europe in the 1930’s and ‘40’s.” Ground Zero isn’t Israel’s “holy ground.” Why would he be involved with this discussion? Simply because right-wing Jews in Israel as well as the United States believe that demonizing the religion of 1.3 billion people is good for Israel. God help us.
Right-wing politicians join the fray. On Fox News Newt Gingrich compares a mosque at Ground Zero to Nazis protesting at the United States Holocaust Memorial. The Democrats are cowed by the American outpouring of hate and even Harry Reid voices disapproval of the Park 51 site. It’s a perfect storm of hate.
Periodically we go through this in America. The anti-Catholic No-Nothing party ran ex-President Millard Fillmore in the presidential election of 1856 and garnered 27 percent of the votes. We deported over 10,000 people during the First World War because they opposed our entry into that war and we incarcerated loyal Japanese Americans during the Second World War. Now during this “war on terror” I shudder to think where we are headed.
The tool used in this hate campaign is the concept of collective guilt. Based on that, all Jews are traitors since Ethel and Julius Rosenberg sold out this country. All Christians are terrorists since Timothy McVeigh attacked the federal building in Oklahoma City. Neither are all Muslims traitors nor terrorists. Islam is not monolithic. Its forms are as varied as Judaism or Christianity. I do not practice Judaism the same as a Satmar Hasidic Jew. A Catholic does not practice Christianity the same as a Jehovah Witness. Imam Rauf does not share the same Islamic beliefs as bin Laden.
Of all people Jews should beware of collective guilt since we have suffered from it for millennia. Yet the organization that started this hysteria is headed by a right-wing Jewish supporter of Israel by the name of Pam Geller. She is quoted in the mainstream media (including the Jewish Journal) as if she is a legitimate political voice. Yet on her blog, Atlas Shrugs, she has declared that “Obama is the illegitimate son of Malcom X.” She has written that we have “an American-hater for president.” She has proposed that devout Muslims should be prohibited from military service. She asks, “Would Patton have recruited Nazis into his army?” To all of the rabbis quoted in the Jewish Journal urging that the “mosque” be moved, know who is pulling your strings.
Finally, to the role of the Anti-Defamation League and its director, Abe Foxman. The world was literally “shocked,” that’s the word used by the Associated Press, by ADL’s call for the mosque to be moved. Fareed Zakaria called it a “bizarre decision.” Foxman, a Holocaust survivor, said, “Survivors of the Holocaust are entitled to feelings that are irrational.” Referring to loved ones of the September 11 victims, he continued: “Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted.”
How dare Foxman use the Holocaust to justify prejudice. He does blasphemy to the memory of Jews and other oppressed minorities whose lives were sacrificed on the altar of bigotry. Zakaria responds: “Does Foxman believe that bigotry is OK if people think they’re victims? Does the anguish of Palestinians, then, entitle them to be anti-Semitic?”
Five years ago the ADL honored Zakaria with the Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize. Incensed over ADL’s succumbing to bigotry, he has returned the award with the $10,000 honorarium that came with it.
The last word was recently written by Daniel Luban, a doctoral student at the University of Chicago, in Tablet Magazine: “While activists like Pam Geller have led the anti-mosque campaign and the broader demonization of Muslims that has accompanied it, leaders like Abe Foxman have acquiesced in it. In doing so they risk providing an ugly and ironic illustration of the extent of Jewish assimilation in 21st-century America. We know that Jews can grow up to be senators and Supreme Court justices. Let’s not also discover that they can grow up to incite a pogrom.”
· Rabbi Bruce Warshal:
** The article originally appeared in the “Florida Jewish Journal”
Ground Zero's Slave Graves
By Jen Phillips Wed Aug. 25, 2010 4:32 PM PDT— Slave register from Flickr user Wofford College via Creative Commons.The outrage about the "ground zero mosque" has turned very ugly, as this video of this recent protest shows.
People are calling Mohammed a pig. A New York City cab driver was stabbed today after his passenger asked him if he was Muslim. But I find the righteous outrage of those contending the former World Trade Center site is "hallowed ground" amusing, because they have no idea just how right they are.
Before the World Trade Center was even designed (with Islamic architectural elements, incidentally), the ground was indeed sacrosanct: The bones of some 20,000 African slaves are buried 25 feet below Lower Manhattan. As at least 10 percent of West African slaves in America were Muslims, it's not out of bounds to extrapolate that ground zero itself was built on the bones of at least a few Muslim slaves. That is to say, hallowed Muslim ground. For some time, activists, historians, and city officials have been working together to excavate and preserve the bones of the slaves buried under present-day lower Manhattan.
A recent excavation of a 14,000 square foot section of the six-acre burial ground found that 92 percent of the 419 skeletons were of African descent, and 40 percent were children under 12. The bones of the 419 slaves were eventually reinterred.African slaves couldn't be buried in New York City itself, so they were put to rest along the city's then-northern border, near present-day Chambers Street. The exact borders of the burial ground are fuzzy, and experts say that without test digs, they won't be able to tell how far it extends.
The area they've excavated so far ends just a block or two from ground zero, but with the huge number of African slaves that lived and died in New Amsterdam, I find it hard to believe the burial grounds didn't extend further.At any rate, some of the slaves' belongings were definitely at ground zero: About 100 boxes of artifacts from the African graves were stored at 6 WTC, which was crushed by the North Tower on 9/11, but thankfully archivists were able to recover them.
A few of the items were strings of blue beads found buried with the slaves...which some think could be Islamic prayer beads.Park51 won't even be at ground zero proper (across from Brooks Brothers or the Century 21 department store). But if it were, it would still be perfectly defensible.
In fact, since WTC was likely built over the centuries-old bones of Muslim slaves, it would be a downright blessing. http://motherjones.com/mojo/2010/08/ground-zero-was-built-graves-slaves At any rate, some of the slaves' belongings were definitely at ground zero: About 100 boxes of artifacts from the African graves were stored at 6 WTC, which was crushed by the North Tower on 9/11, but thankfully archivists were able to recover them.
The pics of Slave Register - http://www.flickr.com/photos/littlejohncollection/4326139964/
A few of the items were strings of blue beads found buried with the slaves...which some think could be Islamic prayer beads.
This is a link to a larger view of the slave registerhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/littlejohncollection/4326139964/sizes/o/in/photostream
on different forums and I shall date each one of them from hereforward
I have not written the questions out,as I do need the permission to quote some one
who is not a public figure or is not published in public media. It is on the face book and my discussion forums. Some of it is repeat, but mostly original.
August 31, 2010 at Facebook
Olberman, Stewart, Maddow do not speak for Muslims, I did not say that any where in my million + words I have writtin on the topic, they speak for the American Values, speak for America and speak for saving our nation from division cause...d by the few right wingers for their own poltical gain.
- A serious dialogue and conversation is the right thing to do and it should not be based on facts. Americans are misled by right wing gingrich, palin and their likes with their lies, once they all get the truth, Americans will stand for what is right;
1) it is not on ground zero
2) it is not a mosque
3) fox funded by same man
4) it is a political ploy
5) it's a memorial to 9/11
6) it is an interfaith chapel
7) Co-existence will be taught
8) It is open to every one to
9) It is not a seceretive place
These men and women Olberman and their likes are standing up for the truth and I hope you see that is the right thing to do.
Fox made a big deal about funding source, and turns out the same source funds them... as always Fox thrives on gossip, hate and falsities. Check this out: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-august-23-2010/the-parent-company-trap
Do your own Fact Check..
We will advise the group hold off the project until elections are over, then the right wingers will not see any sense.
I understand your frustration and the honesty with which you have penned your thoughts.
The furor over Ground zero mosque is based on falsities propagated by my fellow Republicans and Fox News where I share my point of view. Those Ameri...cans who are against Ground Zero were duped, as they have been duped before. When they see all the facts, the emotions will subside and they will restore themselves to the American Values of liberty, justice and freedom. Already the 9/11 families are standing in support of this institution, a catalyst for change.
Peace does not mean compromising on truth, there is compromising with emotions and facts. To the Palins, Gingrichs, McCains and the others, it is not patriotism or emotions, it is all politics and they go to any extent. they lack morality to guide them.
However, as an American, I would like to see Republican majority in either senate or the house. When it was all republican in the governance we committed massive crimes of ruining our economy and causing unemployment and foreclosures. Had we had democrats in the house or senate then - there would have been discussions and perhaps, we would not have gone to war and killed 4000 of our men and women and murdered (due to war) nearly half a million Iraqis and Afghans – the criminal Bin Laden is still at large and we have killed and destroyed everything else. How goofy can we be? It is time to be self-critical.
Ground Zero is election politics, once the public rejects the right wingers again, and the public should, for the tension they have created over this building, I would hope they would learn that people are smarter than them and cannot continue to fool the Americans.
The following site is dedicated to Ground Zero
Please share the thought in my analysis that concerns you, so may address it.
Freedom is most certainly is the key for a better world and acceptance of that freedom and regard to that freedom makes it valuable.
...Indeed several nations practice intolerance towards people of other faiths and minorities and most of them happen to be in the Islamic world. Of course it is not religion that drives the loonies but their situations drive them to do wrong things and hide under the label of religion - as people of consicence we should not let them hide under such labels, as no religion teaches one to be a bad guy. Not one! Yes not one religion teaches one to be a bad guy.
The only ones that misunderstand the religion are the ones who committ wrongs and hide under the name of their religion, and the others who legitimize such cover.
It is time for the US to lead the world and create a model of co-existence and then we will have the nerve and morality to tell others. right now we do not have the morality to tell others to treat their minorities well or build a church in Bahrain when we are violating those ground rules ourselves.
Monday, August 30, 2010
By MICHAEL BARBARO
Published: August 24, 2010
Even as Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg firmly rejected calls for the relocation of a planned Muslim community center and mosque near ground zero, signs of growing division emerged on Tuesday within the political establishment in Manhattan, as the powerful speaker of the State Assembly expressed forceful opposition to the plan.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's Remarks (pdf)
When an Arab Enclave Thrived Downtown (August 25, 2010) Breaking his silence on the issue, the speaker, Sheldon Silver, a Democrat whose district includes ground zero, said the organizers’ honorable goal of healing post-Sept. 11 wounds and building bridges among faiths had instead provoked bitter fighting and raw emotions that could not be ignored.
“I think the sponsors,” Mr. Silver said at City Hall, “should take into very serious consideration the kind of turmoil that’s been created and look to compromise.”
Such a compromise, he added, would mean finding “a suitable place that doesn’t create the kind of controversy” engendered by the Park51 plan.
The opposition from Mr. Silver, a religious Jew who commands considerable influence in the city’s Democratic political world, is largely symbolic, because the city has already given its approval. But it fueled creeping doubts about the viability of the center, which faces a raft of obstacles, like paltry fund-raising, on top of the public outcry.
Mr. Silver’s remarks came on the same day that Mr. Bloomberg, the center’s most visible supporter, delivered a carefully prepared answer to the emerging voices calling for a compromise.
Speaking at a traditional dinner at Gracie Mansion as part of Ramadan, the mayor sought to tamp down the opposition and regain control over a national debate that has escalated by the day, starting as a local zoning dispute and becoming a referendum on the limits of religious tolerance in an age of terrorism.
Mr. Bloomberg, flanked by the center’s developer and the wife of its imam, said he understood the impulse to find a different location, in the hope of ending the controversy.
“But it won’t,” the mayor said. “The question will then become, ‘How big should the ‘no-mosque zone’ around the World Trade Center be?’ ”
He added: “There is already a mosque four blocks away. Should it, too, be moved? This is a test of our commitment to American values. We must have the courage of our convictions. We must do what is right, not what is easy.”
It was Mr. Bloomberg’s second major speech in three weeks supporting the plan, and its soaring tone and forceful arguments suggested that he had firmly embraced his role as a national defender of the plan for the center, even as high-profile voices have called for a re-examination of the wisdom of the current site.
Mr. Bloomberg rejected those calls, arguing that to move the center would slight American Muslims and damage the country’s standing.
“We would send a signal around the world,” he said, “that Muslim Americans may be equal in the eyes of the law, but separate in the eyes of their countrymen. And we would hand a valuable propaganda tool to terrorist recruiters, who spread the fallacy that America is at war with Islam.”
As the controversy has snowballed, the families of some Sept. 11 victims have lashed out at Mr. Bloomberg for supporting the project, saying he has lacked sensitivity to their pain.
The mayor seemed to directly address that criticism on Tuesday night. “There will always be a hole in our hearts for the men and women who perished that day,” he said, at one point acknowledging a woman in the room named Talat Hamdani, a Muslim whose son, Salman, was killed on Sept. 11.
But as he has in the past, with a mixture of compassion and impatience, Mr. Bloomberg encouraged the families of those who died to move on emotionally. New Yorkers, he said, had collectively rejected calls to make the entire World Trade Center grounds a memorial.
“We wanted the site,” he said, “to be an inspiring reminder to the world that this city will never forget our dead and never stop living.”
But even as Mr. Bloomberg sought to end the debate, prominent New York leaders urged the center’s organizers to consider an alternative site. Earlier in the day, two of those who have suggested such a compromise, Gov. David A. Paterson and Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, met to discuss the controversy.
At City Hall, Mr. Silver said, “I, along with the governor, believe very firmly that our Constitution guarantees us the right to freedom of religion and that includes the, obviously, the right to build houses of worship.”
But in a nod to Sept. 11 families, Mr. Silver added, “The sponsors ought to consider those circumstances and ought to say, ‘Let’s see if we can find something suitable that is sensitive to the issues that are being raised by some of the dissidents and see if we can place this in a different place.’ ”
As Mr. Bloomberg spoke, about 100 guests, dined on a traditional Middle Eastern menu of tomato and cucumber salad, hummus and pita, and fried feta.
At times, the mayor seemed emotional, especially as he recited words spoken by the center’s imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf, at the funeral of a slain Jewish reporter, Daniel Pearl, in which Mr. Abdul Rauf identified with Jews and Christians. As he recited a Hebrew prayer, Mr. Bloomberg’s voice began to crack.
In a brief interview, Sharif el-Gamal, the Muslim center’s developer, seemed to capture the gratitude of those in the room toward Mr. Bloomberg. “He touches my heart,” Mr. Gamal said, “every time I hear him talk about our rights as Americans and his brave and unwavering statements.”
Colin Moynihan contributed reporting.
CPWR Chair Emeritus Rev. Bill Lesher Weighs In on Park51 Debate
FROM FIRE STORM TO ILLUMINATION:
Interreligious Reflections on the New York Center and Mosque Project
William Lesher, Chair Emeritus, Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions
What some in the media have referred to as “a fire storm” over the mosque debate in lower Manhattan is turning out to be a catalyst to launch a much needed national discussion (and tutorial) on Muslims in America.
Since this discussion was intensified by the exaggerated rhetoric and distorted claims of Pamela Geller, a conservative blogger in her post on May 6, a consensus seems to be forming among constitutionally committed citizens across the political spectrum. Fair-minded people are agreeing that the Imam and his wife in charge of the mosque project, Feisal Abdul Rauf, Daisy Khan and their supporters, have every right to expand their center and include a new worship space on the site. They have worked from and worshipped in this place for many years, two blocks from the World Trade Center disaster. Even though current polls claim that 7 out of 10 Americans oppose the project, opponents can hardly argue that the project planners do not have a constitutional right to carry out their vision. As one letter to the NY Times editor put it, “As a legal matter, there is nothing to debate. If a church or synagogue could be constructed on this site, so may a mosque. Period. The first amendment means at least that.”
The location of the proposed Islamic Center touches the raw nerve that has elicited often shrill claims ranging from insensitivity to the families of the 9/11 victims and desecration of hallowed ground to an international Islamic conspiracy to subvert the nation. Given the fact that the vast majority of Americans know little of Islam and know almost nothing of the history and intentions of the center planners in lower Manhattan, it is not surprising that the barrage of misinformation that initiated and continues to stoke the current national discussion has filled this vacuum and created the sharp negative and often heated responses.
But now, as the national discussion continues, one might cautiously hope, even anticipate, that the time is right for a nation-wide learning process to unfold. This could become a time for Americans of fairness and goodwill to take the time to listen and to learn from people in the interreligious community and from Muslims themselves about the importance, the variety, and the beauty of this second largest religion in the world. And to hear as well, about the healing potential for having a thoroughly American expression of Islam close to the site of Ground Zero.
The Interreligious Movement in the US and around the world has been building bridges of understanding among religious communities, including Islam, for the last few decades. Many religious people in the US are affiliated with local interreligious councils or with national and international organizations like United Religions Initiative (URI) or Religions for Peace (RFP) or have participated in one of the four modern Parliaments of the World’s Religions (PWR) with which I am affiliated. These people have led the way in this historic movement to develop knowledge, understanding, and respect for religious and spiritual communities of the world, many of whom have growing numbers of adherents in our towns and cities, states and nation.
People affiliated with the growing interreligious movement know about the great diversity that exists within Islam, not unlike the wide spectrum of beliefs, traditions and behaviors among different sectors in the Christian and Jewish communities. They know what William Dalrymple wrote about in an illuminating Op-Ed piece in the New York Times entitled, “The Muslims in the Middle,” that Islam is not a monolithic religion. Rather it is as complex as Christianity and Judaism, with as many, perhaps more divisions, sects and traditions, some in opposition to others, as is true of every major religious group. Dalrymple helpfully teaches in his article how “Feisal Abdul Rauf…is one of America’s leading thinkers of Sufism, the mystical form of Islam which in terms of goals and outlook couldn’t be farther from the violent Wahabism of the jihadists. His videos and sermons preach love, the remembrance of God and reconciliation…..But in the eyes of Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, he is an infidel-loving, grave-worshipping apostate…”
Members of the interfaith movement are also leading the resistance to the resisters and need to do so more and more. In another New York Times article describing protests against mosques in several communities around the country, Laurie Goodstein focuses on Temecula, Ca. There she writes: “In late June …members of a local Tea Party group took dogs and picket signs to Friday prayers at a mosque that is seeking to build a new worship center on a vacant lot nearby.” She goes on to say that an estimated 20 – 30 people turned out to protest the mosque. But then Ms. Goodstein states what many of us think is the real story in Temecula, “that the protesters were outnumbered by at least 75 supporters” who affirm the right of the Muslim congregation in Temecula to expand their mosque. Something good is happening in Temecula when, less then a decade after 9/11, local citizens know and act on the difference between their mainstream Muslim neighbors and the terrorists whose actions violated the most basic tenants of Islam. It’s too bad that the NY Times headlined the Goodstein article, “Across Nation, Mosque Projects Meet Resistance” and missed the positive thrust of the Temecula story.
Speaking from the experience of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, the 2004 Parliament in Barcelona, Spain focused major attention on the issue of Religiously Motivated and Experienced Violence. After several days of intense workshop discussions, participants from across the interreligious spectrum, agreed that the minimum responsibility of religious communities is to come to the aid of any religious community whose house of worship is the target of an attack, vandalism, threat or destruction.
The recent Parliament in Melbourne, Australia in 2009 featured a strong focus on Islam. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf himself was a major presenter leading or participating in six interreligious programs with the following titles: “Applying Islamic Principles for a Just and Sustainable World”; “Sacred Envy Panel: Exploring What We Love about Our Own Faith, What We Admire in Others and What Challenges Us in Both”; “Purifying the Heart and Soul through Remembrance of Allah”; “Dhikr As An Islamic Devotional Act for Inner Peace”; “How Islam Deals with Social Justice, Gender Justice and Religious Diversity”; and “Islam and the West: Creating an Accord of Civilizations.” How much could such a teacher of Islam help to bridge the gulf of misunderstanding about this great faith tradition by continuing his long and much admired ministry in lower Manhattan where he has built an international reputation for promulgating a modern version of Islam?
So, while some call it a “fire storm” and do their best to make it so, there are other voices that seem to be gaining strength. Among the shouting and the uninformed outrage that sometimes seems ubiquitous, I sense that responsible media outlets and people in the interreligious movement are grasping the significance of this moment and are helping to seed the discussion with historical facts, accurate information and a commitment to understanding and respect. If this trend continues we will all learn important things about ourselves and about the most recent global religious tradition to enter the mainstream of American life.
New York imam says upcoming US elections linked to mosque protests
By: BRIAN MURPHY
08/29/10 11:10 PM EDT DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES — The imam spearheading a proposed Islamic center near the site of the Sept. 11 attacks in New York believes the fierce opposition is closely linked to the U.S. elections in November, according to comments published Monday.
"There is no doubt that the election season has had a major impact upon the nature of the discourse," Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf was quoted by the Abu Dhabi-based newspaper The National in an interview as part of his State Department-funded trip in the Gulf.
Rauf did not cite any particular political race possibly tied to the protests, but many conservative candidates and political figures have aligned themselves with the opposition to the $100 million project that includes a mosque and Islamic cultural center.
Some Republicans running for midterm elections around the United States have used the project as a campaign issue after national conservatives Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin announced their opposition. Kevin Calvey, a Republican running for Congress in Oklahoma, said the Muslim leaders associated with the mosque "are clearly terrorist sympathizers."
Even Democrats are feeling the pressure to respond to the debate.
The highest-ranking Democrat in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is facing a tough re-election in Nevada, has said the mosque should be built farther away from Ground Zero.
President Barack Obama has said Muslims had the right to practice their religion and build the Islamic center in lower Manhattan. Obama later said he wasn't endorsing the specifics of the plan.
Rauf compared the current struggles facing American Muslims to past religious-based prejudices and attacks against other groups, including Jews and Roman Catholic immigrants.
"And this is why it is important, the issue of radicalism is a threat to all of us," he was quoted as saying. "We have radicals in the Muslim world and we have radicals in the other faith traditions as well."
He said extremists from all faiths "feed off each other and need each other to sustain themselves."
"So we need right now to combat the radical voices. That's the only way we can win this struggle, and establish a peaceful world order, which is what everybody wants and everybody needs," he told the newspaper.
Rauf has made only selected public comments since beginning a three-nation tour earlier this month — concentrating almost exclusively on his views about moderate Islamic values and interfaith dialogue. He has so far avoided any extensive statements addressing the opposition to the project or recent anti-Muslim violence, including the slashing of a New York taxi driver last week.
The imam said Muslims in the United States are part of an "evolving American Islamic identity."
"But as time goes on and as the second generation establishes itself and is rooted in the United States they articulate an expression of who we are as Americans and to be seen decreasingly as alien and being local ... In perceptions between the Muslim world or the Arab Muslim world and the United States in particular, it is an ongoing picture, it is dynamic," he said.
Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/world/new-york-imam-says-upcoming-us-elections-linked-to-mosque-protests-101770428.html#ixzz0y69xlmmt
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Questions About the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’
August 26, 2010
Q: What are the facts about the proposed cultural center and mosque near New York’s former World Trade Center? A: We answer questions we’ve been asked most often by readers about the controversial project.
A clearly divisive issue has been brewing in America as well as the headlines, concerning the creation of a mosque/community center (relatively) near the site of the September 11 tragedy, ground zero. The facts have been obscured by all sides and replaced by emotional scare tactics and slippery-sloping, in argument for and against. I was hoping FactCheck.org would be able to shed light on the issue in an article with particulars, such as the individuals and organizations involved, the actual location, and the truths and lies presented by public figures concerning the case.
With so much being said and written about the proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque to be built in New York’s Lower Manhattan, our inbox is full of questions from readers. They’ve asked us to sort fact from fiction as it relates to what the center’s sponsors call the Park51 project, and what detractors refer to somewhat inaccurately as the "Ground Zero Mosque." So, here we’ll answer some of the main questions we’ve been asked about the controversial center.
We take no position as to whether or not the Park51 project should go forward. One key consideration in particular — whether the project offends the sensitivities of families of those who died at the World Trade Center site — is a matter of emotion on which opinions differ, and on which facts have little bearing. But to the extent that facts matter, they shouldn’t be twisted or misrepresented.
Is it a mosque, or a cultural center?
It would be a cultural center with a mosque inside. The "Ground Zero Mosque" label is not entirely accurate, although it has been commonly used to describe the planned $100 million project. First, the proposed location is not immediately adjacent to ground zero (which we’ll get to in a minute). And while the facility would include a mosque, or a space for Muslim prayer services, the project’s organizers say that the mosque will only be part of a much larger "world-class community center" that will offer a variety of activities and resources, and will welcome all, without regard to religion:
Park51 website: While a mosque will be located in the planned final structure of Park51, it will be a distinct non-profit. Neither Park51 nor the mosque, which hasn’t been named yet, will tolerate any kind of illegal or un-American activity or rhetoric. The final size and location of the mosque have yet to be determined, but it will only represent a small portion of the final structure.
The mosque portion of the project certainly fits the general definition of a mosque, which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as "a Muslim place of worship" with "an area reserved for communal prayers." For anyone worried about a mosque edifice looming over New York, it won’t look like the typical image of a mosque. The concept drawing released by the organizers lacks any domes or minarets.
Politico reported that the project currently doesn’t have a blueprint, an architect or an engineer. But plans do call for the proposed structure to include fitness facilities, a 500-seat auditorium, a restaurant and culinary school, a library, and art studios, as well as a Sept. 11 memorial. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, one of the leaders of the Park51 project, said that the center would be modeled after the 92nd Street Y and the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan, and would be open to all New Yorkers.
How far away from ground zero will the proposed center be?
About one-tenth of a mile. The current plan is to build the center at 45-51 Park Place, between West Broadway and Church Street. It would be constructed in the same spot now occupied by a vacant Burlington Coat Factory and former substation of Consolidated Edison, a New York utility company. (Below is a map outlining the shortest distance between the two locations. "A" is the northern side of the former World Trade Center site at the intersection of West Broadway and Vesey Street, and "B" is 45-51 Park Place.)
It’s approximately one-tenth of a mile, or about a two-minute walk, from Park51 to the northern side of the World Trade Center site. Matt Sledge of the Huffington Post has posted a video demonstration of the walk between the two spots. (Skip to about the 0:30 mark to view in real time.)
Are there other mosques near ground zero?
Yes. The New York Times profiled two mosques that have been in existence for years not far from ground zero. Masjid Manhattan, founded in 1970, is four blocks away from the World Trade Center site, on Warren Street, and Masjid al-Farah, which used to be on Mercer Street, is 12 blocks away on West Broadway. Prayer services have actually been held at the 45 Park Place location since the latter part of 2009. According to the Park51 website, one of the main reasons for including a mosque in the new center is that the previously existing ones aren’t large enough:
Park51 website: Prior to purchasing our current facility at 45 Park Place, there were two mosques in lower Manhattan, although Park51 is not affiliated with either of these mosques. One was Masjid al-Farah, which could fit a maximum of approximately 65 people, and had to hold three or four separate prayer services on Fridays just to fit the crowds. The second mosque, at Warren Street, accommodated about 1,500 worshippers during Friday prayers - people had been praying on sidewalks because they had no room. They lost their space around May 2009. We made the move to buy 45 Park Place in July 2009 in part to offset the loss of this space. Currently, our space at 45 Park Place accommodates around 450 people every Friday.
Is the center scheduled to open on Sept. 11, 2011?
Organizers say no. As best we can determine, the idea that the cultural center and mosque would open that day is unfounded speculation. Project organizers say that no official date has been set for the opening of the proposed center. Imam Rauf told Newsday back in May that it could take anywhere from 18 months to three years to raise the money to complete the project, and added that the center wouldn’t open on the anniversary of Sept. 11. Project organizers took to the social networking site Twitter as recently as Aug. 20 to knock down the claim, saying: "Reports that we will open on 9/11 or begin construction on 9/11 are false and inflammatory. Our timeline to build is 18 - 38 months."
The idea that the center and mosque would open on Sept. 11, 2011 — the 10-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks in 2001 — has been bandied about on blogs and discussion boards. The American Freedom Defense Initiative sponsored advertisements that may have also contributed to that thought. The initiative’s ads appeared on New York City buses and asked, "Why There?," with an image of a plane flying into a burning World Trade Center, next to a rendering of the proposed building with the words "September 11, 2011, WTC Mega Mosque."
Is Imam Rauf an anti-American radical?
We see no evidence of that. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has a long history of cooperation with the U.S. government, beginning during the Bush administration. In February and March 2003, he led cultural awareness training for FBI employees in the bureau’s New York field office, New York division officials told us. In 2007 and twice in 2010, he traveled to the Middle East to talk about religious tolerance and Islam in America as part of a speaker program organized by the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs.
Philip Crowley, assistant secretary of state for public affairs, said of the imam: "His work on tolerance and religious diversity is well-known and he brings a moderate perspective to foreign audiences on what it’s like to be a practicing Muslim in the United States." Rauf’s most recent trip, which is in progress as we publish, garnered objections from people who feared he would try to raise money for the Park51 project during his trip, but the State Department said those concerns were unfounded.
Rauf is an adherent of Sufism, a mystical form of Islam that has itself been targeted by extremists. A 2007 report by the nonpartisan RAND Corporation suggested that Sufis could be potential partners against radical Islamism. "Because of their victimization by [extremist sects] Salafis and Wahhabis, traditionalists and Sufis are natural allies of the West to the extent that common ground can be found with them," the RAND study concluded. Indeed, Rauf has often spoken out against extremism, including recently as part of a Washington Post discussion about the Park51 project, then called the Cordoba Institute:
Rauf, July 21: We are not the extremists. We are that vast majority of Muslims who stand up against extremism and provide a voice in response to the radical rhetoric. Our mission is to interweave America’s Muslim population into mainstream society. We are a Muslim-American force for promoting the universal values of justice and peaceful coexistence in which all good people believe.
Critics point to some of Rauf’s comments that they say show him to be neither a moderate nor a bridge-builder, as he has been called. Appearing on NBC’s "Meet the Press" on Aug. 22, former New York Rep. Rick Lazio, a Republican, said the imam is not a "good" Muslim:
Lazio, Aug. 22: Well, first of all I would say, David, there are millions of peace-loving, good Muslims in America. This Imam Rauf is not one of them. He’s not a bridge builder. This is a man, the very same month that people were burying their loved ones that were lost in 9/11, he said that America was an accessory to the crime of 9/11. He said that Osama bin Laden was created in the USA. He refuses, only months ago, to, to distance himself from Hamas, in fact, protecting him — protecting them, and only recently one of the developers said that they would consider taking money from Iran.
It’s true that in the past Rauf has said that U.S. policy was an "accessory" to the 9/11 attacks, and that he recently declined to express an opinion about whether or not Hamas is a "terrorist" organization.
The "accessory" remark is from a 2001 interview on CBS’ "60 Minutes," in which Rauf said:
Rauf, Sept. 30, 2001: I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened, but the United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.
Correspondent Ed Bradley: OK. You say that we’re an accessory?
Rauf: Because we have been an accessory to a lot of — of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, it — in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA.
That was a reference to U.S. support for bin Laden when he was fighting Soviet occupiers in Afghanistan, as CBS’ Bradley made clear in the sequence that immediately followed Rauf’s remark:
CBS’ Ed Bradley, Sept. 30, 2001: Bin Laden and his supporters were, in fact, recruited and paid nearly $4 billion by the CIA and the government of Saudi Arabia in the 1980s to fight with the Mujahedeen rebels against the former Soviet Union, which had invaded Afghanistan. After the Soviets pulled out, the Saudis, our best friends in the Arab world, our staunchest ally during the Gulf War, poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the newly formed Taliban regime until 1999.
Also, on ABC’s "This Week" with Christiane Amanpour, Rauf’s wife Daisy Khan recently stated:
Khan, Aug. 22, 2010: [H]e talked about the CIA support specifically to Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. And…
Amanpour: You mean that…
Khan: Yes, in the ’80s.
Amanpour: … against the Soviet Union.
Khan: The Soviet Union. And how this was, you know, in CIA terms, a blowback of that. That’s what he meant.
In the "60 Minutes" interview, Rauf also said that "fanaticism and terrorism have no place in Islam," and that "there is no justification" for the attacks from an Islamic perspective.
Lazio also said that Rauf "refused to distance himself" from Hamas. That refers to a June New York Post report, in which Rauf ducked a question about whether he agreed with the State Department’s assessment of Hamas as a terrorist organization:
New York Post, June 19: "The issue of terrorism is a very complex question," [Rauf] told interviewer Aaron Klein. "There was an attempt in the ’90s to have the UN define what terrorism is and say who was a terrorist. There was no ability to get agreement on that." Asked again for his opinion on Hamas, an exasperated Rauf wouldn’t budge. "I am a peace builder. I will not allow anybody to put me in a position where I am seen by any party in the world as an adversary or as an enemy," Rauf said, insisting that he wants to see peace in Israel between Jews and Arabs.
Rauf’s detractors continue to mine elements of his statements for evidence that he is insufficiently pro-American or overly sympathetic to fellow Muslims overseas. Most recently, the Investigative Project on Terrorism took issue with statements from Rauf’s 2005 lecture and discussion at the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Center in South Australia. IPT was founded by controversial journalist Steven Emerson, who once suggested that contemporary Islam "sanctions genocide, planned genocide, as part of its religious doctrine."
We find that IPT (and others who echoed its criticism) take Rauf’s words out of context.
IPT claimed that Rauf’s statements "reveal radicalism" and "would make anyone who is not concerned about the mosque at the Ground Zero site rethink their support for the man." Its prime example is Rauf’s comment that "the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaida has on its hands of innocent non Muslims," which he backed up by saying that "US-led sanctions against Iraq led to the death of over half a million Iraqi children."
It’s true that the 500,000 deaths figure is highly controversial, and probably inflated. But it came from the United Nations, which Rauf correctly cited as the source. And rightly or wrongly, it has been repeated and accepted by plenty of people who aren’t radical Islamists — including reporter Lesley Stahl of CBS’ "60 Minutes."
In context, here’s what Rauf said in his 2005 remarks:
Rauf, 2005: You may remember that the US led sanction against Iraq led to the death of over half a million Iraqi children. This has been documented by the United Nations. And when Madeleine Albright, who has become a friend of mine over the last couple of years, when she was secretary of state and was asked whether this was worth it, said it was worth it.
Rauf’s reference to Albright comes from a "60 Minutes" program that aired May 12, 1996. Albright actually was U.S. ambassador to the UN at the time, and only later became secretary of state.
CBS’ Stahl, May 12, 1996: We have heard that a half a million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died when–wh–in–in Hiroshima. And–and, you know, is the price worth it?
Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.
Albright later wrote in her memoir that she "must have been crazy" to answer Stahl’s "loaded question" that way. But her answer was widely interpreted at the time as giving support to the 500,000 figure.
IPT claimed that a "report by the British government" put the number of deaths at no more than 50,000, but IPT didn’t provide a citation. Rauf was citing a 1996 World Health Organization study that found that child mortality in Iraq had doubled in the five years after sanctions were imposed, and a later United Nations Children’s Fund report from 1999. Both have been disputed. In 1999 Columbia University Professor Richard Garfield estimated the total of excess deaths in children under 5 at between a "conservative" 106,106 and a "most likely" figure of 227,713. Furthermore, according to Canada’s National Post, Garfield laid most of the blame on Saddam Hussein’s government and not directly on the sanctions.
IPT also claimed that Rauf was "justifying acts of terrorism by blaming the United States for the oppression of Islamic regimes." It quotes Rauf — accurately — as saying that “after 50 years of, in many cases, oppression, of US support of authoritarian regimes that have violated human rights in the most heinous of ways, how else do people get attention?” But IPT omitted what Rauf said next: ”I’m just providing you with the arguments that are happening intra-Islamically by those who feel the emotional pain.”
The full transcript and audio are available to anyone who wants to evaluate the imam’s remarks in context.
Where is the money to build the center and mosque coming from?
That has yet to be determined. Little is currently known of how the estimated $100 million project will be funded. Project organizers say that they have not actually begun their fundraising drive, and are still in the initial planning process. According to the project’s website, "Park51 will incorporate as a non-profit and seek federal tax-exempt status" as a 501 (c)(3) organization. And while those behind the project say they intend to raise the necessary funds for the project domestically, ABC News reported that Oz Sultan, spokesman for the Park51 project, declined to rule out accepting donations from foreign nations such as Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Project representatives explained via Twitter on Aug. 17 that once fundraising begins, "[w]e will disclose funding of the project in compliance with State and Federal law as well as vet investors with the [Department of ] Treasury." That point was echoed by Daisy Khan, Rauf’s wife and one of the leaders of the Park51 project, during her recent interview on ABC’s "This Week" with Christiane Amanpour:
Amanpour, Aug. 22, 2010: How much money has been raised and are you prepared to discuss the issue of foreign funding? Let’s say there was foreign funding. How would you be able to know exactly where that money was coming from, what other projects elsewhere that they may have given money to?
Khan: Well, this is where my counselor on my right is helping us, because our funding is going to be pretty much follow the same way that [Jewish Community Center] got its fund-raising. First, we have to develop a board. Then the board is going to have a financial committee, fund-raising committee that will be in charge of the fund-raising. And we have promised that we will work with the Charities Bureau, that we will adhere to the highest and the strictest guidelines set forth by the Treasury Department, because there is so much angst about this. But we will follow the lead from Rabbi Joy Levitt.
As we said at the outset, none of what we have written here should be taken as an endorsement of the Park51 project. We are neutral on the highly politicized and emotional question of whether or not it should be built at the site proposed. Our purpose here is to set the record straight where facts have been misrepresented or presented out of context.
–D’Angelo Gore and Jess Henig
The Community Center at Park51 Website. Accessed 19 Aug 2010.
Cordoba Initiative. The Proposed Community Center Project in Lower Manhattan FAQs. Accessed 19 Aug 2010.
El-Gamal, Sharif. "‘Ground Zero mosque’ will serve all N.Y.: Developer of site says Sarah Palin is welcome, too." New York Daily News. 4 Aug 2010.
Barnard, Anne. "In Lower Manhattan, 2 Mosques Have Firm Roots." New York Times. 13 Aug 2010.
Poonawalla, Aziz and Shahed Amanulla. "We want to build Park51 so it has something for everyone.” Altmuslim.com. 24 Jul 2010.
Alvarez, Maria. "Imam defends mosque near ground zero before board." Newsday.com. 25 May 2010.
Rauf, Feisal Abdul. "The truth about the ‘mosque’: The leader of proposed Muslim center near Ground Zero defends his plan." New York Daily News. 26 May 2010.
Washington Post. "Mosque near Ground Zero: Frequently asked questions." Accessed 20 Aug 2010.
Washington Post. "The View from Ground Zero." Accessed 20 Aug 2010. U.S. State
Department Bureau of Public Affairs. "Daily Press Briefing." 10 Aug. 2010.
CBS News. 60 minutes. 30 Sep. 2001. Transcript.
Rabasa, Angel et al. "Building Moderate Muslim Networks." Center for Middle East and Public Policy, RAND Corporation. 2007.
Rauf, Feisal Abdul. "Center an attempt to prevent the next 9/11." Washington Post On Faith blog. 21 Jul. 2010.
Topousis, Tom. "Imam Terror Error." The New York Post. 19 Jun. 2010.
Investigative Project on Terrorism. "Rauf Lecture Reveals Radicalism." 23 Aug. 2010.
Rauf, Feisal Abdul. "What does it take to change the relationship between the West and the Muslim World?" Transcript. 12 July 2005.
UNICEF Newsline. "Iraq surveys show ‘humanitarian emergency.’" Press release. 12 Aug. 1999.
Habberman, Maggie and Ben Smith. "Mosque a long shot to be built." Politico. 18 Aug 2010.
Goldman, Russel. "Islamic Center Backers Won’t Rule Out Taking Funds from Saudi Arabia, Iran." ABC News. 18 Aug 2010.
Emerson, Steven. "Jihad in America." The Jewish Monthly. Mar 1995.
Posted by DAngelo Gore and Jess Henig on Thursday, August 26, 2010 at 5:42 pm
Filed under Ask FactCheck · Tagged with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, islamic cultural center, mosque, Park51, September 11
Ground Zero is about politics for Republican Right Wingers
Peace will come to our communities; the Ground Zero issue will fade away when we become aware of the facts and the public rejects the plea from the Republican Right Wingers.
Things have got to get better and the conversation must be carried forward. The silent majority of Americans will wake up and do the right thing; live and let live. Right now, they are worked up with the misinformation coming from the opportunists; first it was a mosque, then it was on ground zero, then it was the historic building and now they have slipped to the finances of Imam. The guys who are making a lot of noise are from Fox, and their 2nd largest stock holder is a Saudi businessman. They will slip again on the Imam and claim that the money is coming from Hamas (as if they have the money). There is no end to their lies. Remember the WMD pattern? The reason was slipping from a lie to lie.
Who are the folks opposing the Mosque near Ground Zero? The revelations are as clear as the day light, while the religious leaders are speaking boldly for freedom and co-existence, the right wing politicians have gone berserk and hanging on to tiny branches to save their political careers, and it is an abuse of Patriotism to have political gains.If you have surfed through the internet, you might reasonably conclude that the ones opposing are the right wing Republicans like Palin, Gingrich, Paladino, Corker, Tancredo, Rowe, McCain and others. They continue to fall in the abyss of ignorance and are out of touch with the American public. The pied piper Limbaugh had led them once and his cooked up support will blind them again.Until they come up with concrete alternative solutions for the difficulties our nation is facing, they will continue to hang on to anything they "perceive" will save them. The American public does not like divisive politics and I hope they understand and honor it, and become conflict mitigaters and goodwill nurturers.
Our culture is peace and we are justice seekers, as we have gotten up and thrown the rascals out we will reject these chaotic bunch again; it is all for those seats in the senate or congress. It is not about the Mosque, not about Patriotism but simply about greed. We Americans have witnessed that time and again. The 9/11 families are seeing through it and standing up for building that center, a catalyst for a positive change.
Peace will come to our communities; this issue will fade away when we become aware of the facts.
The leader of the Gang is Mr. Gingrich, the man gunning for Bill Clinton about Monica – at that very same time he was cheating on his wife, she was on cancer and he was proposing another woman and he has repeated that performance again. He has the gall to speak about Patriotism and loyalty? I don’t now why Keith Olberman is not nailing this beast or Jon Stewart cannot see their game.
We have to consciously create institutions and systems that will become a catalyst to a positive change and bring about cohesive functioning of the society. The Cordoba house will be the one.
We have a monumental task to repair the World, and we will do our part in working towards a World of co-existence, one person at a time. We are committed, and now help us God. Amen.
Mike Ghouse is speaker and thinker on Pluralism and Islam offering pluralistic solutions to the media and the public on issues of the day. His work is captured in 22 blogs and 3 websites listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/
I JUST GOT THIS VIDEO FROM JON STEWART - ALMOST IDENTICAL TO MY WRITING