NEW YORK – The imam behind a proposed Islamic community center and mosque near ground zero cautioned Wednesday that moving the facility could cause a violent backlash from Muslim extremists and endanger national security.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf told CNN that the discourse surrounding the center has become so politicized that moving it could strengthen the ability of extremists abroad to recruit and wage attacks against Americans, including troops fighting in the Middle East.
“The headlines in the Muslim world will be that Islam is under attack,” he said, but he added that he was open to the idea of moving the planned location of the center, currently two blocks north of the World Trade Center site.
“But if you don’t do this right, anger will explode in the Muslim world,” he later said, predicting that the reaction could be more furious than the eruption of violence following the 2005 publication of Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad…” — from this story
Now that Feisal Abdul Rauf has chosen – most unwisely I think– to obliquely threaten us all with violence if we do not surrender to his demands and the demands of those who in “anger will explode in the Muslim world,” let’s go back and make sure we know not what the websites devoted to presenting him as a “moderate” say, but what Feisal Abdul Rauf is on record as saying. He is, this Feisal Abdul Rauf, slippery as he is, unambiguously on record as refusing to denounce a clear terrorist group devoted entirely to destroying an entire Infidel nation-state, that is, Hamas. Furthermore, he is also on record as wanting Muslims in the countries of the non-Muslim West to temporarily accept the secular laws but to work to change those laws and replace them, where they in his view need replacement — that is, when they do not conform to the Shari’a — so that the secular laws of the country become more and more those of the Shari’a. People do not understand what that means. That means he, Feisal Abdul Rauf, is calling for the overthrow — not, given current circumstances, the violent overthrow, but still the overthrow — of the American Constitution, that is, of our legal and political institutions.
He couches it in a way that those used to the smooth cunning of the cleverest Muslim spokesmen cannot apparently fathom, just as it took a while for the French to fathom Tariq Ramadan. But thanks to a number of those who carefully examined Ramadan’s various statements to Muslim and non-Muslim audiences, and his writings, it was clear what he was up to, and Caroline Fourest’s Brother Tariq helped make it impossible for Tariq Ramadan to continue to operate as before in France. So he took himself off first to the Netherlands, and then to Great Britain, where he landed first as a temporary lecturer at that center of Arab and Muslim propaganda, the Middle East Centre of St. Anthony’s. (For years the Middle East Centre of St. Anthony’s was the preserve of the late Albert Hourani, who helped make it a diploma mill — no courses, no waiting, and no real scholarly vetting — of such people as Rashid Khalidi.) But when Tariq Ramadan grew tired of that, the rich Arabs of the Gulf (the Emir of Qatar, I believe, ultimately did the financial honors) bought him a professorship — bought it, outright — at Oxford.
Now Feisal Rauf, a cunning man and an evil one, knowing just how ignorant Westerners are of Islam and of the history of Muslim triumphalist mosques, and of course of the role of the mosque, which is not only or merely a “house of worship” but much, much more, and playing on the personal devils and pretensions to high-sounding statesmanship (shades of Washington to Moses Seixas) of Mayor Bloomberg, and also knowing, of course, the ineffable editorial views of The New York Times and its willingly collaborating reporters (see Laurie Goodstein’s reporting on Muslims in America, do), has come far. Very far.
But those who have read Rauf’s books, who have parsed Rauf’s sentences (such as that, in an Op/Ed yesterday, where he spoke about the principle of the Golden Rule, a rule never observed by Muslims), and who are not quite as impressed with Mayor Bloomberg as Mayor Bloomberg appears to be, and who believe that practical wisdom (the kind called for by Mr. Justice Jackson in a celebrated passage in his dissent in Terminiello) rather than dogmatic adherence is called for, those people know exactly what Rauf is all about, and are willing and able to inform others.
And now, just before September 11, when what would be the largest in a series of anti-mosque protest meetings was just about to be held, Feisal Abdul Rauf issued his threat of worldwide Muslim violence. Only a fool or a willing collaborator could possibly maintain that it was not a threat. But when Feisal Abdul Rauf uttered it, a few, including – nota bene – smiling Fareed “The Skull Beneath the Skin” Zakaria, who has become a star on the lesser screen as well as in his new-found position at Time, accepted this astonishing statement without quarrel or quibble or cross-questioning.
But – this might surprise Fareed Zakaria too — I’m delighted Feisal Abdul Rauf has made his oblique threat about worldwide Muslim “anger,” the kind that leads to mass riots, and killings of hapless Infidels if they happen to be around to be seized and killed. It can happen for any reason, or a made-up reason, or no reason at all. Remember when Shi’ite Muslims seized the Great Mosque in Mecca in November 1979. Maddened Muslims in Pakistan rioted and attacked, murderously, the American Embassy in response. For the Infidels, you see, are always and everywhere to blame. So in a sense we are permanently in a condition of “causing” Muslim anger, because it is through the prism of Islam that Muslims regard the universe. No matter what happens, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Somalia, in Yemen, in Egypt, in god-knows-where, the Infidels Are Behind Everything, the Infidels Are To Be Blamed.
Now it becomes more difficult for those who kept wanting to give this Feisal Abdul Rauf the benefit of the doubt to keep calling him a “moderate” without any supporting evidence, or to fall back on his self-description as a “Sufi” as if that implied some kind of Gandhian satyagraha, when Sufis can be just as determinedly bent on Jihad, that is, the “struggle” to remove all obstacles to the spread and then the dominance of Islam as any other Muslim group. Sufis have been just as murderous as other Muslims; they differ slightly not in content, but in the form of their worship, and that’s it. The Deobandis – militant and violent as all get out – are Sufis.
Now, with the utterance by Feisal Abdul Rauf of this threat disguised as a warning from someone deeply sympathetic, someone who abhors the “extremists,” which in his telling means, bien entendu, “extremists on both sides” (and apparently Hamas is not included in those “extremists”), we have, for all to see, what lies under the smiles and the wiles. He is a cruelly determined man, but at long last, not quite as clever as I thought him to be. I’d already written, two weeks ago, a speech to be delivered by Feisal Abdul Rauf when he returned from his State-Department tour, a speech in which he would decide, in more-in-sorrow terms, to withdraw his proposal for the mosque, because he “cared so deeply about this country” and did not wish it harm. Now I see that he is taking that theme, and using it as part of an extortion plot: we have to go through with this mosque, you see, much as I, kind Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, sweet Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, golden-rule-observing Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, at this point would gladly withdraw it myself, because the acts of “extremists” (i.e., the non-Muslim “extremists” who have clearly drawn the line, made this mosque a point of great symbolism — as if it did not already possess a great, and for non-Muslims, intolerable symbolism of Muslim triumphalism) have now made that impossible. For were the mosque not to go through, then Muslims everywhere — oh, I have nothing to do with it, I wish it were otherwise (so implies kind, sweet, golden-rule-observing Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf) — would be very very angry, and you know how Muslims can be when they get very, very, angry, and so it has now become, this triumphalist mosque, a matter of national security.
And so it is, in truth, a matter of national security. But not in the way that Feisal Abdul Rauf wishes you to believe. No. Now the lines have been drawn. Now the symbolism of the mosque has been established, its importance even magnified. The Muslim threat of violence Feisal Abdul Rauf himself raises and waves about in order to require submission to what is now, clearly, for Muslim and non-Muslim alike, a symbol of Muslim triumphalism akin to those mosques built smack on the Temple Mount, or in Damascus out of the Church of St. John the Baptist, or Istanbul, where the Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque. And the same sense of triumph was observed during the ceremonies marking the opening, less than 20 years ago, of the mosque built on land donated by the Italian government, not a mile from the Vatican. Similar triumphalism, a sense that Europe would inevitably yield to Islam, and to Muslims, was evident in the dedication of the mosque in Cordoba that the Spanish government allowed to be built on the highest point in that city, right next to the Alhambra, overlooking and disturbing a convent just below. No one should have been surprised, either in Rome, or in Cordoba, or in New York, if that mosque, having acquired the symbolism it has acquired, is allowed to be constructed.
And that symbol is to be constructed a block or two from the greatest act of civilian mass-murdering in the history of the United States, the most powerful Infidel land. Even now that land, far from “making a war on Islam” as Muslims for 1350 years have been making war on Non-Islam and continue to do so, through various means including non-military ones today, has squandered and is squandering trillions of dollars trying vainly to help Muslim countries. It does this in order, so it is wrongly believed, to make them “less vulnerable to Al Qaeda” and therefore, presumably, less of a threat. This policy does the very opposite of what should be done, which is to let Muslim states crumble, and their peoples suffer from that crumbling, as they are forced, as Ataturk once was forced, to understand that Islam, unconstrained, and unchallenged, is the cause of their miseries and not the solution to them.
In Jerusalem, in Damascus, in Constantinople, and in many places where there were once Hindu temple complexes all over India, mosques replaced the pre-existing Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Jain, Buddhist structures, which were destroyed in whole or in part and used as building material for these mosques. Those mosques were symbols of military conquest.
But today, outright conquest through military means is neither necessary nor possible. Because Infidels are not hampered in the enterprise of science, they are and will always remain technologically superior to the Islamic world — what Churchill in his famous passage about Islam in “The River Wars” described as “the strong arms of science.” But Muslims have been allowed to settle deep within non-Muslim lands, behind what they have been taught to regard as enemy lines, and from within, they are exploiting the very freedoms that developed in the advanced West and that could not for one minute exist in Muslim lands. They are determined to change those countries from within, to weaken their resolve, by confusing their understanding, and to work to remove all obstacles to the spread, and then the dominance, of Islam.
I assumed that Feisal Abdul Rauf was going to do the cleverest thing, and to return from his trip abroad, and to make a speech, in a more-in-sorrow tone, that would have him withdrawing the mosque proposal, “because I love this country too much to rend it asunder” or some such.
Here is the kind of thing I thought Feisal Abdul Rauf might come up with:
I have just returned from a trip to Muslim countries undertaken on behalf of my own country, the United States. This was my second such trip. My first trip was during the Administration of President George Bush, and my second is during the Administration of President Barack Obama. Both men wanted me to take to the world’s Muslims the message of a proud American Muslim, to tell them of how America works, of how our policy of tolerance ensures that someone such as I, for example, can be entrusted with such a mission even at a time when American forces are engaged in two Muslim countries, engaged of course not to harm Islam, but to help Muslims find their true path, their true destiny, without succumbing to the violent extremists within Islam, as within other faiths, who have lately been so much in the news, and who we all know are our common enemies.
When I left, just a few weeks ago, I knew there was some opposition afoot, and some plans hatching in certain political circles, to attempt to whip up popular sentiment against what some keep calling, though no Muslim I know ever did, the “Ground Zero” mosque. I invite anyone – anyone – to look at a map of lower Manhattan, and to tell me that the building that was bought would be a “Ground Zero” mosque. Our intention was to create a Muslim community center that would contain a mosque. It would also contain lecture halls, and a library, and rooms for social events, and all the other things that would benefit not only the Muslims who would attend the mosque, but all the people, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, who would be invited to many of those lectures. They would be invited to social events too, in order to find out more about Muslims who apparently are such a source of agitation and worry. I want – we all want – to put any misunderstandings to rest.
And just before I left, I had heard the magnificent speech of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who called upon all of us to remember just who, as Americans, we are and what America is all about. He reminded us of the great defense of religious freedom that our first President, George Washington, had sent to a member of the Touro Synagogue, in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. He said that he stood by those of us who wanted to build a Muslim Center that would also be a center for outreach, for mutual understanding, for tolerance. He said it would be a travesty of all that he, and that we, hold dearest, if those who would divide us – the dividers, the haters – managed to have their way, to stop this Muslim community center, which has now been demonized as part of some kind of plot to establish Muslim supremacy, when it is nothing more and nothing less than what I, and my wife Daisy, and so many others always wanted it to be, a place where people could pray, could learn, could listen, could laugh, could come together in this vibrant metropolis, with all its splendid diversity.
And as I made my way through one Muslim country after another, I read, and heard, the echoes of what was going on at home, and I thought about what would be best for everyone, and finally I decided that I had to make a decision along with fellow members of the Muslim community. I listened with great respect, too, to Mayor Bloomberg and to others. And so today, it is with a heavy heart, but with a feeling of deep relief and continued belief in the goodness and rightness of this country, that I announce that the project that was to be built, so many of us had hoped, in lower Manhattan, will not be built where we had, in our innocence, planned to build it. Instead, we have decided to accept the gracious offer of Governor Paterson for a site elsewhere. And it is on that site that we shall build our Muslim center, as that model place of tolerance and outreach that we had always had in mind. And all those who visit us will be reminded, merely by its placement, of the kind of attitudes we have had to overcome, and that they, or their own ancestors, once had to overcome in the same way.
I hope – I do not expect, but I hope – that this will forever end what the dividers, and the mockers, and the haters, have tried to encourage, in order to suit their own small-minded political goals. And during this difficult time, when a plan for a community center was twisted by talk-show hosts and others hoping to cash in into some kind of beachhead for an invading army, thankfully tens of millions of Americans have stood by us, have reaffirmed the noblest traditions of this country. And now that we have decided to remove the source of such controversy, let us hope that those talk show hosts, and those hate-site bloggers, who will no doubt savor their victory, and crow over it, but at least may have the decency to now let us get on with the business of building, slowly and quietly, as men of good will, a truly diverse United States of America, and that there will be no further hate-filled opposition whipped up against a mosque or a community center with a mosque, anywhere in these United States.
And let us build an America where there is no compulsion in religion, and where all shall be free of the shackles that prevent them from learning how to approach, from every angle, that path, so wide and so welcoming, that inevitably takes mankind on the best and truest way to know God, and to fulfill his will, and his directives, here on earth.
Well, I was wrong. It turns out that Feisal Abdul Rauf is determined that nothing shall put him off. He senses American confusion, naivete, ignorance. And who, given Mayor Bloomberg, and the editorial board of The New York Times, and reporters such as Laurie Goodstein, can deny he has grounds for so thinking? He’s a dab hand at manipulating such people. And assorted rabbis and ministers, ignorant of Islam and consequently of the real meaning of what Feisal Abdul Rauf is saying, are apparently naively impressed, even at times ecstatic, because of a statement he once made at a memorial service for Daniel Pearl, at Temple B’nai Jeshurun in Manhattan, addressing Judea Pearl:
We are here to assert the Islamic conviction of the moral equivalency of our Abrahamic faiths [Muslims use this “Abrahamic faiths” business only with non-Muslims; they know that the Muslim Abraham is the only one who counts, and that Judaism and Christianity are false religions, and their adherents Kuffar, the ungrateful ones, who refused to recognize the message delivered to the Seal of the Prophets, Muhammad]. If to be a Jew means to say with all one’s heart, mind and soul Shma` Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu Adonai Ahad; hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One, not only today I am a Jew, I have always been one, Mr. Pearl. If to be a Christian is to love the Lord our God with all of my heart, mind and soul, and to love for my fellow human being what I love for myself, then not only am I a Christian, but I have always been one Mr. Pearl. And I am here to inform you, with the full authority of the Quranic texts and the practice of the Prophet Muhammad, that to say La ilaha illallah Muhammadun rasulullah is no different. It expresses the same theological and ethical principles and values.
Now Feisal Abdul Rauf has enough practice at this sort of thing to know that he would be willingly misunderstood, especially at such an event, reeking of interfaith-harmoniousness, and knows few in his audience that day, or perhaps later, will understand what it is he means. And what he means, what he meant, is the opposite of what others will assume. He means: “If to be a Jew means NO MORE THAN to say ‘hear O Israel,’ then I am a Jew,” because a good Jew would “hear” and no longer call himself a Jew but call himself a Muslim, for we are all born Muslim, and to hearken properly for Jews — or to hearken properly for Christians, in his next treacly but apparently not to all transparent phrase, is to be a Muslim, and Feisal Abdul Rauf knows this perfectly well. In Feisal Abdul Rauf’s world, to be a “good Jew” or a “good Christian” who hearkens to the Lord is necessarily to be a Muslim. That is his meaning, and he who grew up in this country has spent his life figuring out how to say one thing and cloak it so that Infidels will misunderstand, and apply their own frame of reference to that which he says, and endow it with their own soothing meaning. He’s gotten away with it for so long, and no doubt, with an ever-diminishing group of the willingly credulous, this will continue as before.
He has stated, in a tricky way not immediately evident to all, perfectly orthodox Islam: everyone is born a Muslim. If I am a true Jew, or a true Christian, I will necessarily be true to what those words mean by becoming a Muslim. Replacement theology is what Islam is all about. It is, after all, a Total Belief-System concocted out of pre-Islamic Arab pagan lore, with bits and pieces taken from Judaism and Christianity: mostly names and stories, appropriated in greatly changed, even distorted out of all recognition, fashion. It is designed to both justify and promote conquest, by primitive Arabs, of far more settled, wealthy, populous, and civilised Christians and Jews (and subsequently Zoroastrians in Sassanian Persia). Just as Christianity came to contain anti-Judaic themes (which later, over time, became antisemitic ones), for it was important for the early Christians to present Christianity as a new, improved faith, and that required, if they were to obtain market share, to denigrate the prior-in-time monotheism, Judaism, so Islam had to denigrate, and did so to a much greater extent, the two prior-in-time monotheisms of Judaism and Christianity. And that is why Islam is based so much on a division of humanity between Believers and Unbelievers, Muslims and Infidels.
Feisal Abdul Rauf’s new theme is that “if I am not allowed to build this mosque right where I wish to build it, despite the opposition of almost all of those related to those murdered by Muslims on 9/11/2001, that novemdectet of Muslim Arabs inspired by the texts of Islam and their own unhappinesses or insufficiencies that led them to take those texts, and the hatred those texts inculcate, even more deeply to heart than usual, then Muslims all over the world will be very very angry, and take it out (as if they are not already taking out their own Islam-caused miseries and aggression on all kinds of helpless non-Muslims in their midst, and under their power) on Americans and other non-Muslims.”
With this threat, Feisal Abdul Rauf has made a fatal mistake. He has so clearly shown that behind Muslim demands lies the threat of Muslim violence. He couches his own demands, that continue without modification, in the most cunning way he can, like some extortionist saying to a potential victim “hey, I’m not violent, but my brother-in-law, you know, I can’t be responsible for what he might do, and he can get very very angry.”
He’s not a good man, Feisal Abdul Rauf, not a man who believes in the Golden Rule — a claim he amazingly made in an Op/Ed the other day in The Times, as if we in the Western world are unaware that 2000 mosques have been built in the U.S., and 6000 in Europe, and in all that time churches and Hindu temples and Buddhist statues and so much more have been steadily destroyed all over the Muslim countries. And for all the millions of non-Muslims who make the Gulf Arab states work, and are indispensable to them, exactly one — or is it possibly two? — tiny structures have been put up, without any crosses or identifying signs whatsoever, or Christian worship: one in Qatar and one in Bahrain.
And yet he, Feisal Abdul Rauf, dares to talk about doing unto others as…. Well, perhaps we should behave as Muslims do, and do unto them as they do, all over Dar al-Islam, to us. Or would that, in Feisal Abdul Rauf’s eyes, be illegitimate? And if so, what has he done, what single thing has he done, to make the vast Muslim lands safe for thousands of churches, Hindu and Buddhist temples, Zoroastrian centers, even (dare we even hope it?) a synagogue or two, for the pathetic remnants of Jews left in a handful of Muslim countries?
Oh, with this threat, and the implication that he will “save American lives” by proceeding with the mosque, this forked-tongue extortionist has uncovered himself.
No matter how this is now may be handled, or mishandled, it is Feisal Abdul Rauf who has inflicted the most damage to himself.