Leftists have insisted that bigotry is behind the anti-Ground Zero mosque sentiment. For example, Bill Press went on CNN and said this:
Let me tell you something, first of all, we’re not talking ground zero, we’re talking two blocks from ground zero, there are apartment buildings there, there’s a catholic church there, a pizza parlor there. there are hotels there. there might even be a porn shop there. This is not a sacred site, this is all about religion and the opponents, there’s only one reason to oppose this mosque, and that is to paint Islam as an evil religion and to ain’t all Muslims and equate them with a 19 terrorist who’s flew into that building. it is wrong. it is un-American and the people against it ought to be ashamed of playing a cheap political trick.
This is an easy charge to make when those who don’t want the mosque are Christian or Jewish.
But what if those who come out against it are Muslim themselves? Is it still anti-Muslim bigotry?
Last week two Muslim columnists published an article in which they said the plans to build the mosque at Ground Zero was an act of provocation. I linked to it and quoted some of it in a post here at Wizbang. Rick also wrote a post about the Muslim Canadian Congress that just wrote a letter to Imam Faisal Rauf, “urging the Cordoba House Initiative to abandon its proposed Ground-Zero Mosque in New York in the face of outrage expressed by large segments of the American population calling the proposal an act of ‘fitna’ or mischief.”
Zuhdi Jasser, a devout Muslim and president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy issued a press release in response to President Obama’s Iftar comments:
“As an American Muslim whose family fled persecution in Syria and as someone who has stood in the face of some resistance to the building of many of our houses of worship in the U.S., I fully understand the value of standing for religious freedom in America. But President Obama’s statement about the Ground Zero mosque at last night’s White House Iftar dinner is the latest example of political correctness gone awry.
The President commented that:
“Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America.”
Yes, Mr. President, this is America and you have fundamentally misunderstood the stakes in this discussion and the sentiments of the American people. Instead, you have focused on the very issue that the Islamist propagandists wish you to– the narrative that Americans somehow need lectures about Islam, Muslims, and religious freedom.
Your message to Americans will be spun on Al Jazeera and by Islamists across the world that President Obama reassured a friendly global Muslim audience at the White House Ramadan dinner that he was going to remind Americans about the principles of religious freedom for Muslims since they seem to be trampling over those principles in the local dispute at Ground Zero in New York.
Mr. President this is not about religious freedom. It is about the importance of the World Trade Center site to the psyche of the American People. It is about a blatant attack on our sovereignty by people whose ideology ultimately demands the elimination of our way of life. While Imam Faisal Rauf may not share their violent tendencies he does seem to share a belief that Islamic structures are a political statement and even Ground Zero should be looked upon through the lens of political Islam and not a solely American one.
As a Muslim desperate to reform his faith, your remarks take us backwards from the day that my faith will come into modernity. I do not stand to eliminate Imam Rauf’s religious freedom; I stand to make sure that my children’s religious freedom will be determined by the liberty guaranteed in the American Constitution and not by clerics or leaders who are apologists for shar’iah law and will tell me what religious freedom is.
‘Park 51’, ‘The Cordoba House’ or whatever they are calling it today should not be built, not because it is not their right to do it – but because it is not right to do it.” Mr. President, your involvement in this issue is divisive not uniting. Your follow-up stating that ‘you will not speak to the wisdom of the construction of that mosque and center’ indicates a passive-aggressive meddling on your part that only marginalizes those Muslim and non-Muslim voices against it while pretending to understand both sides of the debate.
Mark Levin interviewed Zuhdi Jasser on his radio show today. It’s a must listen.
And now MEMRI reports that even Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, the director of Al Arabiya, is against building the mosque at Ground Zero. Here’s a portion:
“Muslims do not [really] yearn [to build] a mosque near the 9/11 cemetery, nor do they care whether bin Laden’s cook is tried in a civilian court [or a military one]. Muslims are concerned about issues that involve the destinies of [entire] peoples… such as the establishment of the Palestinian state. If Obama focuses his energy and efforts on fighting for peace in the Middle East, this will be [far] more important and valuable than [his stance in favor of] the New York mosque…
“The [Ground Zero] mosque… is a strange affair, because it is not an issue [that concerns] the Muslims. [In fact,] we never even heard of it until it became the focus of vociferous arguments between supporters and objectors, most of them non-Muslim Americans!…
“The Muslims never asked for this [mosque], and even the angry Muslims do not want it. This is one of the few times when the two opposing sides are in agreement. Nevertheless, the dispute flared up. It made the front pages of newspapers and [featured on] the major television programs. Demonstrations were held in the streets, and large posters were plastered on New York buses, demanding that the construction of the mosque be prevented and reminding everyone of the 9/11 crime. This really is a strange battle!
“I can’t imagine that Muslims [actually] want a mosque at this particular location, because it will become an arena for the promoters of hatred, and a monument to those who committed the crime. Moreover, there are no practicing Muslims in the area who need a place to worship, because it is a commercial district. Is there anyone who is [really] eager [to build] this mosque?…
Are the Muslim Canadian Congress, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, and the director of Al Arabiya all anti-Muslim bigots, too? Or could it be that they can see that building this mosque in the place where the World Trade Center Towers used to cast a shadow before they were destroyed by radical Islamic jihadists is an unnecessary provocation?