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Friday, August 20, 2010

Ground Zero Mosque: American intolerance on full display for Muslim world

By Michael Hughes

Building poised to house the Cordoba Initiative Mosque two blocks away from Ground Zero.
Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

In similar fashion as Voltaire (and Mel Brooks) deconstructed the false notion of the Holy Roman Empire – positing that it was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire – one could dismantle the misnomer of the “Ground Zero Mosque”, for it is neither a mosque nor is it located at ground zero.
The American public’s oppugnancy to the erection of said mosque (which is technically a community center – not that it matters really) two blocks away from the site where the Twin Towers once stood only serves to reinforce the worst fears of Muslims around the globe - which is a shame because obstructing such an endeavor couldn’t be more un-American. And trying to defeat hate with more hate has historically been a counterproductive strategy.
Meanwhile, the United States is in the midst of a war and ideological struggle against the Taliban in Afghanistan, and this absurd and vociferous opposition to the Islamic development project in New York City is a PR nightmare for the ISAF and is certainly not helping our troops, especially when political leaders parallel Islam with the Third Reich, such as Newt Gingrich who said: “Nazis don't have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington."
Making proclamations that equate Islam with Nazism is not going to win over Muslim hearts and minds anytime soon, which is an integral component of U.S. counterinsurgency strategy in Central Asia. A recent poll conducted of men in Kandahar found that three fourths of respondents believe the U.S. is in Afghanistan to occupy their country and to destroy Islam. And now, that percentile has likely spiked.
Opponents of the so-called mosque are beside themselves that one of the leaders of the Cordoba initiative is Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who they allege made deplorable statements after 9/11. Rauf said he was not overjoyed about the event but did believe the U.S. basically had it coming.
Yet one of Rauf’s purported horrifying mentions could actually be categorized under “the truth hurts”, when he stated: “In the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the U.S.A.” If anyone doubts this notion I recommend you read Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, probably the greatest historical account of U.S. explicit involvement via the C.I.A. in the creation and fanning of pan-Islamic extremism, specifically with respect to the development and funding of the efforts of one Mr. bin Laden.
It also bears mentioning that, according to TPM, none other than Bush and Cheney selected Mr. Rauf to spearhead a program to ease tensions between the faiths:

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the chairman of the Cordoba Institute - and a person whom Fox "News" has regularly labeled a "radical" - appears to have another interesting tidbit in his background: In March of 2006 he traveled with Bush's former press secretary Karen Hughes as a "Partner for Mideast Peace." Apparently, the Bush administration thought enough of his standing as a patriotic American that he should be included in Hughes' effort to improve U.S.-Muslim relations around the world. Now, of course, he's a radical Islamist intent on defiling America's Holiest of Holy sites.
The truth is Rauf is moderate by most definitions, being involved with interfaith efforts throughout his career to bridge the divide between Muslims, Christians and Jews, he believes the undertaking is an opportunity for Muslims to prove to the world their faith is truly a religion of peace. Hearing the Palins and Newt Giulianis of the world, however, one would think Rauf was advocating building a jihadist training facility replete with seal and soundproof rooms best for storing and torturing infidel hostages who were once innocent lower-Manhattan passersby.
These abhorrent reactionaries have also smeared Muslim Americans, making all of them responsible for a heinous act of terrorism they had nothing to do with and one most rightly condemn. And, yes Virginia, people of the Muslim faith were in the Twin Towers on September 11th, and yes, there are Muslims, as hard as it is for neocons to fathom – whoare patriots.
Even more hideous is the way in which these bigots try to hide their overt prejudice in the emotional guise of love and caring, purportedly because they believe we must be “sensitive” to the families of the victims of 9/11. So then, let us be sensitive to their desires, I say. A group called the September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrow, which represents over 250 families who lost loved ones on 9/11, strongly supports the mosque, according to ABC News:
But Donna Marsh O'Connor, who lost her daughter Vanessa on 9/11, questioned why "a center dedicated to peace and understanding should be built anywhere but at Ground Zero." She represents the support group September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, which, she said, counts 250 families of victims as members. "I will not speak for everyone in our group but, as an organization, we stand for this center and this mosque," she said. "The mosque and center should be built. It's important to the future of America. It does honor to my daughter that in this place of hell on earth, a place for peace and love be established."
And it is one thing to personally hold a view, publicly or privately, against the mosque’s placement, but another entirely to pressure the government to halt its fruition, because there is a name for such state intervention - it is called fascism. And those opposed are suggesting a caliber of suppression one might find in places like say, ironically, Saudi Arabia.
And there is more than enough irony to be had as right-wingers dead set against government intervention when it comes to closing tax loopholes are suddenly activist when it comes to violating the most basic “God-given” civil liberties, repressing the freedom of expression of fellow citizens, not to mention impinging on property rights that conservatives typically hold oh so dear. The likes of Hayek and Rand are probably cringing as they spin.
The xenophobic disrespect Americans have shown for another monotheistic world religion is completely unwarranted and inappropriate - there would be less outrage if an atheist bath house for sadomasochists were put in its place (an establishment that would likely be patronized by many who doth protest). And if this moronic open dissent is ultimately successful, I may start a movement to have Christian churches shut down within the vicinity of where the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building once stood.
(The writer is a Corporate Writer and a journalist. He writes for the Huffington Post and Examiner.Com).
NOTE:This is a cross post from


  1. Micheal, you are well aware, American Govt(I use the term Govt NOT people) suffer from Islamophobia.A feeling of fear is whipped up by the American media against Muslims , the media that is controlled by Jews.
    It is patently overlooked that there are different shades of thoughts among muslims.Some are far right, some moderates and some very secular minded. Majority are moderates, only a tiny number are radical extremists. Yet it is this small number that has been allowed to overshadow and eclipse the muslims as a whole.
    Since the events of September 11, 2001, Muslims and brown-skinned people in this country have been under siege. While tens of thousands have been detained without any probable cause, summarily detained, or have fled in fear, the majority continue to suffer silently. The climate Muslims face today is very much as it was for Americans of Japanese descent during World War II, when Japanese-Americans were rounded up and detained in internment camps.
    While we thank God that no attack like that of 9/11 has recurred, anti-Islamic opinion has risen consistently in the last six years in the United States. Today, a majority of our neighbors think very negatively of Islam and Muslims and 22 percent don’t even want a Muslim as their neighbor despite the fact that wherever Muslims live in America, property values go up since they are mostly professionals. Thirty-nine percent of respondents to a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll said they favored requiring Muslims, including U.S. citizens, to carry a special ID.
    Public policy in this country is driven by public opinion, which ironically is itself driven by public policy. Public policy and public opinion are both becoming increasingly xenophobic, with utter disregard towards our American constitution, rule of law, civil rights laws and our nation’s human values. The USA Patriot Act was passed the day it was introduced, leaving no lawmaker any time to read its 342 pages. That Act established guilt by association, indefinite detentions without a hearing, secret evidence and secret hearings. Under the special registration program aimed at Muslim visitors to the US, the government fingerprinted and photographed 144,513 Muslims.
    So this dispute is not an isolated incident is it Hughes?

  2. Muslims are routinely subjected to racial profiling which has become an acceptable norm in today’s America. As many as 30,000 Muslims have been waiting to become citizens for more than three years even though US law requires only a 120-day processing time.
    As a result of this Islamophobic public policy and public opinion, Muslim wages in America have gone down by 10% according to the University of Illinois and Columbia University.
    Seventy-six percent of all young Arab-Americans surveyed in July 2007 by Zogby International say they have been personally discriminated against.
    Fifty percent of Arab-Americans surveyed in a Yale University study were found to have clinical symptoms of depression.
    It does not end there. Islamophobes like Daniel Pipes are openly arguing that not only were the detention camps for Japanese-Americans a good idea, but that America should think of instituting them for American Muslims.
    A prestigious mainstream American think-tank is currently in the final stage of its recommendation that a preventive detention law be passed to deal with the detentions that would result in the wake of another terrorist attack. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has already signed a contract with a subsidiary of Halliburton for $385 million to build emergency detention facilities. This suggests that nothing will stop the government from resorting to detention camps. THIS America?

  3. BRAVO,Michael,for the moment in time;You have acted as an American should,with a couldn't careless attitude;America is indeed heading fast towards the 1984,of George Orwell,The Big Brother,wants a State Superior TO THE ONE,WHICH HAD been termed, as the ''IRON CURTAIN STATE'',
    at one time,may God help the American Muslims.

  4. As the U.S.'s crimes against humanity in the World mount, it is of tremendous importance for people in the U.S. to honestly confront and rise to the profound challenges and responsibilities before us in bringing this to a halt.
    Increasingly, humanity is being confronted with two intolerable choices: Bush's crusade for empire or a reactionary Islamic fundamentalist response…(further carried by Obama). The Bush regime has committed crimes on a far greater scale and is by far the greater danger to humanity… but both are complete nightmares. Both reinforce and feed off each other, and as they grow, they suck up the air to breathe for secular and progressive forces around the world… People in their hundreds of millions--in this country and around the world--must be presented with a third option, an option that refuses to choose between crusading McWorld or reactionary Jihad.
    The U.S. has had a contradictory relationship with the Islamic Fundamentalist movements--backing them when it has served their interests and attempting to crush them when these same forces have turned on U.S. interests or come into conflict with it. The decline of British colonialism and the rise of neo-colonialism in this strategic region has often come wrapped in the garb of “modernity” imposed from above--with the free market driving millions of peasants off the land, hurling them into the urban shantytowns and refugee camps. The penetration of U.S. investment and neo-colonial control also disrupted and undermined the traditional semi-feudal power centers and the position of the clerics in these societies. The ripping up of the old social fabric and the chaos, impoverishment, and wrenching apart and refashioning of dependent economies pliable to more thorough and vicious exploitation and plunder of these countries also led to the development of ideological (and not just economic) responses to the imposition of imperialism from the “West.”
    Though I salute the writer for an honest piece, talking in general about this ATTITUDE of AMERICA & not just the Mosque- can the writer tell us,what,in his opinion, happens in the next decade on this front,in his opinion?

  5. Thanks - you have all provided enough material for three new articles! With respect to the Muslim question, I think many Americans of like mind as myself feel a tremendous amount of shame at the attitude and persecution of Muslims in America.

    I study religions and am not a religious person myself - you all will probably pity me because I find myself to lean agnostic - but that is a question for another debate. Religion to me has a cultural aspect and, as raised prior, has a racial aspect that is undeniable. I would say there are few people who have deep resentments toward Islam who don't also hold deep prejudice against Arabs, Pashtuns, Persians, or any other deemed "non-Anglo" or "non-European" races.

    Thus, I see the attack on the religious element as an insidious cover for pure unadulterated racial prejudice. One doesn't get pulled out of line at the airport because he looks "Muslim" - but because he looks "foreign" or "non-white". And even the minority in countries throughout Asia who call themselves Christians I am sure would not be welcomed the same way with open arms by Newt Gingrich as would his Scandinavian brethren.

    I do not believe that a person is born to hate another person because of the color of their skin. This is indoctrinated and is a sociological phenom. The apple does not fall far.

    More embarrassing is that we have a president of Muslim ancestry who claims to be part of this radical black liberation Christian theology which I have problems with ideologically, but who is sheepish in his support for his own bloodlines - whether he likes it or not, he is the offspring of an African Muslim.

    Tis a shame that he the so-called post-racial president shouldn't boldly defend the rights of Muslims to erect their place of worship. Obama has done a disservice by mentioning anything. Either come out in full force or remain in the background, because his wavering seems to me to belie that perhaps Obama suffers the same Islamaphobia as Fuhrer Gingrich.

  6. Michael, good to read the piece & good to hear your voice. I am not a great practising muslim,but,this display of sheer intolerance & Islamophobia,coming so blatantly has shocked me. It has laid bare the shallowness of those who lead America.It has laid bare the rot at the very foundations of America that is eating it away.War on Afghanistan & Iraq being part of the same chain.

  7. Well said about not hating the other for color of skin Hughes.But I am glad Obama has disallowed the mosque.Bloody radicalists all over!Kill them rather than make mosques for them.Way to go.Yoohoo Obama!

  8. This attitude towards the faith of 1.3 billion people is harmful for America and humanity.

    The United States must take the necessary steps to recognize that Islamophobia is a post-9/11 expression of racism and xenophobia directed against Muslims. It must also acknowledge in public policy and through the mainstream media its existence and effects, following the lead of the United Kingdom and the United Nations. In 1996, the UK-based Runnymede Trust established the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia. In 2004, the United Nations convened the conference “Confronting Islamophobia: Education for Tolerance and Understanding” in New York Obviously,Obama & Co never attended!
    As for Shehkar,he is a classic example of intolerance.
    Well written Hughes!

  9. I appreciate & agree to the concept of Michael Hughes and can also accept the reservations of the American Govt. It is no secret that Israel controls US media.What else does one expect?
    Though, I have better hopes from the AMERICAN PEOPLE ho on the average are GOOD PEOPLE.

  10. @Summaya. Previously I used to get worked up on Shehker's remarks. But no more. In fact I have now started enjoying his comments. The good guy is trying to entertain us by doing the role of our film actor Rangeela. Without him the whole scene here would be so depressing ! Try to understand him...........DD
    Thank u Shehkar for all the entertainment and for making the atmosphere bearable.......DD

  11. Haidre Jai Krishan ki.
    BTW I really believe all you BLOODY MUSLIMS should be shot off the face of this earth.Now taking our 5 million for relief which your politicians will eat,Chomp!Chomp! NEVER make fun of an Indian again.

  12. I am in receipt of a mail from the Legendary Sipra;
    film producer,writer,columnist that I share with you:
    Please -Let us keep things in perspective.90% - maybe more - of the Presidents/Prime Ministers/Cabinet Ministers/ Generals/Admirals/Air Marshalls/Senior Civil Servants/ Judges/ Lawyers/Diplomats/CEO's- et all -since 1947 have all at- some time or the other attended schools with the prefix of "Saint"-in Pakistan...or missionary run institutions...and they include students of every religious persuasion- Muslim- Christian- Parsi- Hindu...without a single one of them ever having felt coerced- influenced-leave alone seen to have abandoned their faith - during their schooling. This was the situation till 1965. I doubt if the focus of the Reverends running these institutions has changed much since...there may have been a qualitative drop in the standard of teaching...but i cannot recall A SINGLE instance in which a Muslim was converted. I am richer today spiritually because while I have been blessed for have being born into the Islamic Faith- I have benefited immensely by what ever education was imparted to me by the Irish Christian Brothers at these fine institutions- it helped me immensely in adjusting to the pluralistic society that i can proudly say I now belong to. My noble Faith -Islam- is not under threat from much as it seems to be from within. I consider New York city my is where my son Taimur was born and brought up. I love that city and its inhabitants.Time was when we congregated to offer our Eid prayers at the Roosevelt Hotel... I am an eye witness to the time when devout tribals from Pakistan's Frontier Province visiting New York- would stand abreast in a single line ...smack in the center of the walkway at JFK ... to offer their Maghreb parayers.... as other travelers had to patiently walk around them with their luggage... all under the watchful eye of a police officer ...when a irritated passenger complained loudly: "This is no place to say their prayers-Officer!" I recall the Officer -a burly Irishman- fold his arms giving the answer:"Well- It is- Now! Sir.... Move along. You are holding up the traffic!" but that was then! As a New Yorker...I can empathize and understand the resistance by some- towards the building of a Mosque at Ground Zero... claiming that it is "hallowed" ground. True! That is precisely why a monument to the God of all...should be built ask for His pray for those we lost on that site...every day - Five times a a superlative symbol of a Faith- that transcends...all prejudice..all rancor ...and courageously shows America reaching out to even those who may wish it harm embracing the brotherhood of man....New York has suffered many injuries on its person before...but none so grievous and or evil than the assault on it on 9/11... but New York will will the indomitable spirit of those who inhabit it...for each and every one who call New York home will bear witness...when the Muezzin calls those that believe...with a soul stirring reminder that there is only "One God"....A merciful God...and a compassionate God. Thank you America...You have reaffirmed my believe that America draws its immense power from the disparate faiths of its people. MAS

  13. a mosque is as holy at any other place in the US, as at the place in question.

    for whatever sincere reason the mosque has behind it, i think the muslims there are just falling trap to another horizon. another tested/untested ground.

    that being, not just hate bin laden/al-qaeda/a small fraction of the whole muslim populate, but rather hate the whole muslim ummah/islam now.

    if i had any say in this regard, i'd just walk away from the groundbreaking show of tolerance (/hidden intolerance to trap muslims and start the crusade in the truest sense).

    the Americans can keep their motto/whatever: after all, this is america.

    the muslims are better off without a new point of hate originating from it.

  14. at the braggart who is too busy in shooting off muslims from the gun barrel of his mouth/_ _ _ .

    yeah. provide us with the meager coins and than hurl the invading waters towards us. real beauty.

    it was NOT the pakistani nation who accepted the dimes.

    the nation as a whole spits on the dirty linened dimes that come from the eastern borders.

    make chums with the crooked politicians here only. they are to your liking. take them with you. that'd be better still. and feed them on the delhi/kolkata footpaths where thousands of not millions spend the nights in below humanity levels of life.(if you can call it that.)

  15. add mumbai foothpaths and slums to the list too.

    after all, the same place gave the world, the "SLUM""DOG" millionaire.

  16. In follow-up research I discovered that if anyone should be angry at imam Abdul Rauf it is Muslims, because he is so pro-West that he seems anti-Muslim at times. Newt Gingrich slammed Rauf because he would not denounce Hamas, but in the same interview Rauf said that he supported the state of Israel! How insane is that!

    He also wasn't worried about the movement in Switzerland to remove minarets form mosques - which I found deplorable - and I am a non-Muslim, according to New York Times:

    "Mr. Abdul Rauf, with Ms. Khan, unveiled as usual, beside him, tells a questioner not to worry so much about one issue of the moment — Switzerland’s ban on minarets — saying Islam has always adapted to and been influenced by places it spreads to. “Why not have a mosque that looks Swiss?” he joked. “Make a mosque that looks like Swiss cheese. Make a mosque that looks like a Rolex.”

    So the leader of this movement couldn't be more pro-American, which makes the whole thing even more absurd.

  17. I do not know why everyone is 'shocked' at the White Anglo Saxon reaction to the Islamic Center. There has always been an undercurrent of islamophobia in the West and they still suffer from the 'Crusades' syndrome. Anyway, when I read people calling a mosque a 'holy' place of worship, it raises weird thoughts in the minds of those who do not know what a mosque really is. It is just a place to gather and pray. There are no idols, ornaments, pictures of holy men, gods, animals or anything. It does not even have furniture..! It is just a bare room, carpeted for people, male and female, to stand inline behind an imam and attend a prayer. This can be done collectively, as is normal, or an individual can go and pray there by him or herself. There is no symbolic sign of anything except that it is space to pray.
    This incident is not going to be the end of it. A lot more is to come.