Thursday, August 26, 2010

interesting takes on the mosque debate

firstly, it's pretty clear that the mosque is constitutional. Thus, the question of whether they should be "allowed" to is not germane. America supports freedom of religion and there is nothing wrong with building a mosque in New York City. Perhaps due to its location, it should have been accompanied by a donation to a 9/11 victims' fund as a PR move to assuage victims that the Islam practiced there is not the Islam invoked by terrorists, but that's not a legal or even a moral responsibility - at most it's a social one.
However, the issue of whether they should be building THIS mosque there is a little more interesting. I am most convinced by something written by Michael Weiss at The New Criterion:
"I have no problem with a mosque being built near Ground Zero and if that's all that was at stake, I could rest comfortably... But I do have a few unresolved questions about this particular mosque; more pointedly, about the man behind it....
Let's also ignore for the time being Rauf's inability to state that Hamas is indeed a terrorist organization. If the good imam feels compelled to hedge his bets on what to term a genocidal, anti-Semitic gang of suicide bombers and rocketeers because he's afraid of offending Muslims who see Hamas as something nobler, then this makes him no different from those pleading against Cordoba House on strictly emotional or populist grounds.

More troubling to me are two episodes in Rauf's career that suggest, if not a practical alliance with Islamism, then at least a strong eagerness to earn the trust of Islamists, whether out of financial or face-saving motive. The first is Rauf's participation in the Perdana Global Peace Organisation, which bills itself as a pacifist lobby group seeking to "criminalize war" but is really the brainchild of former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, a man whose greatest compliment to the Jewish people was to credit them with a methodology for world domination that he thought instructive for the forthcoming Islamic attempt at same. To get a sense of Perdana's commitment to ending militarism, consider that it was responsible for convening a portion of the 'Free Gaza' flotilla, whose declared purpose was not to deliver humanitarian aid to Palestinians but rather to break the Israeli naval blockade of the Hamas-controlled territory -- itself an act of war.

The second troubling spot on Rauf's c.v. is his certification of Iran's theocracy. Here he cannot excuse himself with an air of scholarly neutrality since in his own writing he takes the precepts of Khomeinism at face value and describes the clerical oligarchy of Iran as a legitimate form of government...

Rauf published this paean to the captive mind [his memo favorably looking upon the authoritarian nature of Iran's government, listed under Hitchens' link below] just as many hundreds of peaceful democratic activists were being clubbed and shot on the streets of Tehran. According to the Iranian "rule of law," torture and rape are also permissible forms of punishment for people who exercise their right to be incensed at a pantomime of self-determination.

But how curious that Rauf, who believes that the U.S. Constitution is compatible with sharia law, should be encouraging the President of the United States to issue a statement "respecting" the guiding principles of an Islamist tyranny.

Is this really the best that moderate Islam can do?"

More links, which I find either less relevant or I agree with less:
"Essentially, public opinion on this issue is divided into thirds. About a third of the country thinks that not only do the developers have a right to build the mosque, but that it's a perfectly appropriate thing to do. Another third think that while the development is in poor taste, the developers nevertheless have a right to build it. And the final third think that not only is the development inappropriate, but the developers have no right to build it -- perhaps they think that the government should intervene to stop it in some fashion."
This is reasonably straightforward, but it more appropriately frames public opinion about the issue.
Secondly, Douthat [There are parts of his article I agree with and parts I don't]:
Thirdly, Hitchens [Again, there parts of his article I agree with and parts I don't]:
"Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf was no great bargain and... his Cordoba Initiative was full of euphemisms about Islamic jihad and Islamic theocracy. I mentioned his sinister belief that the United States was partially responsible for the assault on the World Trade Center and his refusal to take a position on the racist Hamas dictatorship in Gaza. The more one reads through his statements, the more alarming it gets. For example, here is Rauf's editorial on the upheaval that followed the brutal hijacking of the Iranian elections in 2009. Regarding President Obama, he advised that: "He should say his administration respects many of the guiding principles of the 1979 revolution—to establish a government that expresses the will of the people; a just government, based on the idea of Vilayet-i-faquih, that establishes the rule of law."
Roughly translated, Vilayet-i-faquih is the special term promulgated by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to describe the idea that all of Iranian society is under the permanent stewardship (sometimes rendered as guardianship) of the mullahs.Under this dispensation, "the will of the people" is a meaningless expression, because "the people" are the wards and children of the clergy. It is the justification for a clerical supreme leader, whose rule is impervious to elections and who can pick and choose the candidates and, if it comes to that, the results. It is extremely controversial within Shiite Islam..."



From the looks of it, the problem is not simply that a mosque is being built next to the world trade center - that comes back to the idea that the US permits freedom of religion and they'd have every right to build it. But if I were the US government, I'd be keeping a close eye on this particular imam...


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