Posts Tagged: Zero

Aug 10

The New York Times Rushes to Defend Ground Zero Imam

The New York Times offered still more moral support for the controversial Ground Zero mosque on Sunday’s front-page profile by Anne Barnard of the man behind the building project, imam Feisal Abdul Rauf — "For Imam in Muslim Center Furor, a Hard Balancing Act." Among the contributors to the report: Thanassis Cambanis and Mona El-Naggar in Cairo, and Kareem Fahim, Sharaf Mowjood and Jack Begg in New York.

Mowjood? As Alana Goodman of the Business and Media Institute reported earlier this month, Sharaf Mowjood is a former lobbyist for the Council on American Islamic Relations, an interest group that strongly supports the mosque. Mowjood coauthored a glowing Dec. 9, 2009 article on the mosque with reporter Ralph Blumenthal and also contributed to a sympathetic story by Barnard August 11 about public relations missteps by the mosque sponsors.

Barnard began with an anecdote about a Rauf lecture in Cairo where the imam (with a voice the Times describes as "soft, almost New Agey") was accused by radical Islamists of being an American agent (a story which of course bolsters Rauf’s moderate credentials). Barnard seemingly took it as her mission to rebut charges of extremism against Rauf.

In his absence — he is now on another Middle East speaking tour sponsored by the State Department — a host of allegations have been floated: that he supports terrorism; that his father, who worked at the behest of the Egyptian government, was a militant; that his publicly expressed views mask stealth extremism. Some charges, the available record suggests, are unsupported. Some are simplifications of his ideas. In any case, calling him a jihadist appears even less credible than calling him a United States agent.

Barnard insisted that Rauf’s views, in context, placed him "as pro-American within the Muslim world."

He consistently denounces violence. Some of his views on the interplay between terrorism and American foreign policy — or his search for commonalities between Islamic law and this country’s Constitution — have proved jarring to some American ears, but still place him as pro-American within the Muslim world. He devotes himself to befriending Christians and Jews — so much, some Muslim Americans say, that he has lost touch with their own concerns.

Barnard set up more criticisms for the sole purpose of rebuttal, and waited until paragraph 34 out of 35 to bring up, defensively, Rauf’s failure to describe Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Mr. Abdul Rauf also founded the Shariah Index Project — an effort to formally rate which governments best follow Islamic law. Critics see in it support for Taliban-style Shariah or imposing Islamic law in America.

Shariah, though, like Halakha, or Jewish law, has a spectrum of interpretations. The ratings, Ms. Kahn said, measure how well states uphold Shariah’s core principles like rights to life, dignity and education, not Taliban strong points. The imam has written that some Western states unwittingly apply Shariah better than self-styled Islamic states that kill wantonly, stone women and deny education — to him, violations of Shariah.

After 9/11, Mr. Abdul Rauf was all over the airwaves denouncing terrorism, urging Muslims to confront its presence among them, and saying that killing civilians violated Islam. He wrote a book, "What’s Right With Islam Is What’s Right With America," asserting the congruence of American democracy and Islam.

That ample public record — interviews, writings, sermons — is now being examined by opponents of the downtown center.

Those opponents repeat often that Mr. Abdul Rauf, in one radio interview, refused to describe the Palestinian group that pioneered suicide bombings against Israel, Hamas, as a terrorist organization. In the lengthy interview, Mr. Abdul Rauf clumsily tries to say that people around the globe define terrorism differently and labeling any group would sap his ability to build bridges. He also says: "Targeting civilians is wrong. It is a sin in our religion," and, "I am a supporter of the state of Israel." – Exposing Liberal Media Bias

Aug 10

Mark Halperin ‘Shocked’ That Vacationing Obama Doesn’t See ‘Day to Day Damage’ Of His Ground Zero Mosque Endorsement

What, him worry?


Big Journalism

Aug 10

“Ground Zero Mosque” Debate: Distraction, Or Fundamentally Important ?

Over at Salon, Glenn Greenwald lays out a fairly strong argument against the idea that has been circulated among some pundits that the debate over the Park 51 project is a distraction from the issues that politicians ought to be talking about as we get closer to Election Day:

There’s been a tendency, which I find increasingly irritating, to dismiss this whole Park51 debate as some sort of petty, inconsequential August “distraction” from what Really Matters.  Here’s Chuck Todd mocking the debate as a ”shiny metal object alert” and lamenting “the waste of time” he believes it to be, while Katrina vanden Heuvel, in The Washington Post last week, condemned ”pundits and politicians [who] are working themselves into hysteria over a mosque near Ground Zero” on the ground that it won’t determine the outcome of the midterm elections.  This impulse is understandable.  If you chose to narrowly define the topic of the controversy as nothing more than the Manhattan address of Park 51, then obviously it pales in importance to the unemployment crisis, our ongoing wars, and countless other political issues.

But that’s an artificially narrow and misguided way of understanding what this dispute is about.  The intense animosity toward Muslims driving this campaign extends far beyond Ground Zero, and manifests in all sorts of significant and dangerous ways.  In June, The New York Times reported on a vicious opposition campaign against a proposed mosque in Staten Island.  Earlier this month, Associated Press documented that “Muslims trying to build houses of worship in the nation’s heartland, far from the heated fight in New York over plans for a mosque near ground zero, are running into opponents even more hostile and aggressive.”  And today, The Washington Post examines anti-mosque campaigns from communities around the nation and concludes that “the intense feelings driving that debate have surfaced in communities from California to Florida in recent months, raising questions about whether public attitudes toward Muslims have shifted.”

To belittle this issue as though it’s the equivalent of the media’s August fixation on shark attacks or Chandra Levy — or, worse, to want to ignore it because it’s harmful to the Democrats’ chances in November — is profoundly irresponsible.  The Park51 conflict is driven by, and reflective of, a pervasive animosity toward a religious minority — one that has serious implications for how we conduct ourselves both domestically and internationally.


The animosity and hatred so visible here extends far beyond the location of mosques or even how we treat American Muslims.  So many of our national abuses, crimes and other excesses of the last decade — torture, invasions, bombings, illegal surveillance, assassinations, renditions, disappearances, etc. etc. — are grounded in endless demonization of Muslims.  A citizenry will submit to such policies only if they are vested with sufficient fear of an Enemy.  There are, as always, a wide array of enemies capable of producing substantial fear (the Immigrants, the Gays, and, as that video reveals, the always-reliable racial minorities), but the leading Enemy over the last decade, in American political discourse, has been, and still is, the Muslim.

That’s why the population is willing to justify virtually anything that’s done to “them” without much resistance at all, and it’s why very few people demand evidence from the Government before believing accusations that someone is a Terrorist:  after all, if they’re Muslim, that’s reason enough to believe it.  Hence, the repeated, mindless mantra that those in Guantanamo — or those on the Government’s “hit list” — are Terrorists even in the absence of evidence and charges, and even in the presence of ample grounds for doubting the truth of those accusations.

On some level, I agree with Greenwald completely.

Early on, it was fairly apparent to me that the debate over this project wasn’t an isolated incident and that the protests in Staten Island, Florida, California, Wisconsin, and Tennessee had nothing to do with “sensitivities” about the location of a mosque in a building that, nine years ago, was a Burlington Coat Factory in a neighborhood that includes OTB betting parlors, fast food restaurants, and a strip club. Additionally, the involvement in the anti-mosque movement of people like Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, along with the rhetoric of political figures like Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and Rudy Giuliani has turned what should have been a rational discussion about best to integrate this community center into the TriBeCa community into something that is, quite frankly, distasteful in the manner in which it equates average Muslim-Americans with men who flew airplanes into buildings with the hope of killing as many people as possible. That’s one of the reason I’ve decided to engage on this issue, rather than let the field of rhetorical battle be ceded to the anti-Mosque crowd

Especially, since, as yesterday’s protest in New York showed, it’s quite a troublesome crowd:

Around noon on Sunday, Michael Rose, a medical student from Brooklyn, approached some of the hundreds of protesters who had gathered near ground zero to rally against a mosque and Islamic center planned for the neighborhood.

Mr. Rose, 27, carried a handwritten sign in favor of the mosque — “Religious tolerance is what makes America great,” it read — and his presence caused a stir. An argument broke out, punctuated by angry fingers pointed in the student’s face.

One man, his cheeks red, leaned in and hissed that if the police were not present, Mr. Rose would be in danger.

Before any threats could be carried out, the police intervened, dragged Mr. Rose away from the crowd and insisted that he return to the separate area, one block away, where supporters of the project had been asked to stand.

Minutes later, as Mr. Rose was still shaking off the encounter, he turned to find the red-cheeked man back at his side. The man had followed the student up the street, and the two now stared at each other for a tense moment.

Then the man stuck out a hand and, in a terse voice, said, “I’m sorry.”

“You have a right,” he told Mr. Rose. (He would not give his name.) “I am sorry for what I said to you. I disagree with you completely, but you have a right.”

Unfortunately, not all the encounters yesterday ended so peacefully, as this video of what happened when one man who the crowd thought was Muslim entered the area:

At the same time, though, there’s no denying that, at present, those of us who think that the Park 51 project should go forward are in a distinct minority:

A lot more voters are paying attention to the plans to build a mosque near the Ground Zero site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City, and they don’t like the idea.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 85% of U.S. voters say they are now following news stories about the mosque planned near Ground Zero. That’s a 34-point jump from a month ago when only 51% said they were following the story.

The new finding includes 58% who are following the story very closely, up from 22% in mid-July.

Now 62% oppose the building of a mosque near where the World Trade Center stood in Lower Manhattan, compared to 54% in the previous survey. Twenty-five percent (25%) favor allowing the mosque to go ahead, and 13% more are not sure.


Sixty-three percent (63%) of voters nationwide say the building of the mosque near the 9/11 site is insensitive. Just 23% disagree.

Only 22% say they are at least somewhat confident that the mosque is being built to honor those who died in the 9/11 attacks, as some have suggested. That’s down eight points from last month.

Sixty-seven percent (67%) are not confident that the mosque is intended to honor those killed by the terrorists. This includes eight percent (8%) who are Very Confident and 41% who are Not At All Confident.

Still, just 49% say the mosque issue is at least somewhat important in terms of how they will vote, with 27% who say it is Very Important. Forty-six percent (46%) view the mosque as unimportant to their vote, including 20% who say it is Not At All Important.

On top of that, of course, we’ve got other polls which indicate that barely half of Americans agree with the idea that, senstitivity issues aside, Muslims have a right to build a mosque “near Ground Zero,” and a substantial plurality, though not a majority, seem to doubt that they have the right to build a mosque anywhere in the country. So, we’ve engaged in this debate for several weeks now and, so far, it seems to be the side that Greenwald (and I) disagree with that’s winning the battle for public opinion.

That’s not entirely surprising, for reasons I discussed last week:

If you were to base your opinion on Islam solely on what is portrayed on Fox News and on radio shows hosted by people like Sean Hannity, then it’s not surprising that you’d be opposed to not just to construction of a community center and mosque in Lower Manhattan, but any mosque anywhere. It is, quite simply, ignorance fueled by demonization. I would submit that if some of these people had actual Muslim neighbors or co-workers, their opinions about the religion, and the rights of its adherents, would be much, much different.

And that, I think, is part of the problem that Muslims in America face. They are a very small part of the population — somewhere between 1.3 million and 7 million people depending on whose numbers you go by — but they are part of a religion of 1.6 billion people worldwide that is, because of it’s radical elements, suspicious to some people. It’s a PR problem, but one made more difficult by the fact that it’s very unlikely that most Americans will know much about Islam other than what they see on television from the Middle East, and most of that, quite honestly, isn’t very good (which is, incidentally, why many of the Muslims in America are here rather than there).  When it comes to Islam, Americans suffer from a lack of knowledge about everything other than it’s most extreme and radical elements, and until that changes I’m afraid that the public’s attitudes about Islam are going to remain as negative as they are today.

So, I agree with Greenwald that there are important issue implicated in this debate that go far beyond whether or not an Islamic Community Center should be built two blocks from the site of the September 11th attacks. Unfortunately, I don’t think either one of us is going to like the direction that debate is likely to take, at least in the short term.

Outside the Beltway

Aug 10

Time’s Mark Halperin: 9/11 Families Need to Be Led Through a Discussion About the Ground Zero Mosque

Time magazine’s Mark Halperin engaged in the ultimate condescension Monday morning, arguing that families of 9/11 victims need to be guided by others into the Ground Zero mosque debate.

"For the families of the victims of 9/11, whatever emotions they want to have, I respect and I honor. But somebody needs to lead them through a discussion," Time’s senior political analyst lectured on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe." He mentioned a meeting that reportedly took place between the mosque’s planners and the 9/11 families, which he insisted "needs to happen."

Halperin said the meeting "did not go well," but added it was and is necessary. "As I said before, whether it moves or stays, that discussion must happen. This must be done with reconciliation. And it’s got to be led by leaders, not by people like Rick Lazio…and facts," Halperin noted.

The show picked up fresh from where it left off last week, bashing the supposedly inflammatory rhetoric from the right opposing the mosque and sympathizing – while disagreeing – with the families of 9/11 victims over the planned mosque two blocks away from Ground Zero.

Host Joe Scarborough added that reconciliation doesn’t necessarily entail moving the mosque. "The leaders of this Islamic cultural center, Mark, have to show reconciliation towards the victims of 9/11," Scarborough responded to Halperin. "That doesn’t necessarily mean moving the Islamic center."

"But what it may mean is asking them, say, ‘It’s not going to move. What can we do, though? What can we put inside of this center that, as a memorial to the memory of your father, or your son, or your daughter? What can we do to help you?’"

Scarborough cried that the situation has already become an international problem, and Halperin warned it could escalate to greater proportions. "If the resolution is not handled well," he remarked, "the signal it could send abroad could put us at war with a billion people forever."

Scarborough argued that moving the mosque now would constitute "giving into the hate speech of Newt Gingrich and people like him."

"To fear the building of this center down there at Ground Zero is to admit America is weak," he asserted. "This is a chapter in our history that we’re going to – we as a country, the people associated with this – are going to be ashamed of," he said of the heated debate over the mosque.

A transcript of selected quotes from the show, which ran on August 23 from 6 a.m.-9 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

JOE SCARBOROUGH: To fear the building of this center down there at Ground Zero is to admit America is weak, is to admit that we can’t handle the building of a community center which is – somebody said it yesterday, and this is what I thought was all along – it is basically a Muslim version of a 92nd Street ___. That’s what this place is going to be.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: It’s not just fear, Joe. They’re demonizing the Imam. They’re demonizing the people who want to do it. They are creating lies to promulgate hatred in this country. This is where we are, all over again.


SCARBOROUGH: This is a chapter in our history that we’re going to – we as a country, the people associated with this – are going to be ashamed of.


SCARBOROUGH: This is an international situation. … This is sending a horrific message across the Muslim world.


MARK HALPERIN: As bad as this is for relations in the United States, the signal that it sends abroad – the debate now is sending a bad signal. If the resolution is not handled well, whether it moves or not, if it’s not handled well, the signal it could send abroad could put us at war with a billion people forever.


SCARBOROUGH: This would not be happening if George W. Bush were President, for two reasons. First of all, a lot of these people on the right wouldn’t be trying to sully his name, that’s what this is about for a lot of these freaks on the far right. They want to embarrass Barack Obama, because oh gosh, his middle name is Hussein.


HALPERIN: You gotta confront the people who find it bothersome. Why is it bothersome? Why is it bothersome? If it’s not a center that meant to celebrate the violence of 9/11, if it’s not a recruitment center, why is it bothersome to anybody? 


HALPERIN: For the families of the victims of 9/11, whatever emotions they want to have, I respect and I honor. But somebody needs to lead them through a discussion. … Discussion needs to happen, as I’ve said before.


SCARBOROUGH: The leaders of this Islamic cultural center, Mark, have to show reconciliation towards the victims of 9/11.

HALPERIN: And confidence.

SCARBOROUGH: That doesn’t necessarily mean moving the Islamic center. But what it may mean is asking them; say "It’s not going to move. What can we do, though? What can we put inside of this center that, as a memorial to the memory of your father, or your son, or your daughter? What can we do to help you? There has to be some reconciliation. They can’t stiff-arm the 9/11 families.


BRZEZINSKI: But there’s no basis in order to worry that this would be insensitive. There are other things near Ground Zero and at the Pentagon that are similar. … They have a mosque 12 blocks away from Ground Zero, isn’t there one at the Pentagon? Am I wrong?


SCARBOROUGH: But at this point, if you want to move it up to the Upper West side? … At this point, I don’t know that we can do that. I don’t know that we can do that as a country, because it’s giving in to the hate speech of Newt Gingrich, and people like him, Rick Lazio who’s stoking fear, people down yesterday, trying to beat somebody up because they thought they were a Muslim. We can’t give in to that as a country. – Exposing Liberal Media Bias

Aug 10

“Moderate” Ground Zero mega-mosque imam: U.S. has more blood on its hands than Al-Qaeda

Why is everyone so sure that the Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is a “moderate”? Because he says he is, silly, and why on earth should we doubt him? But he also says other things. Pamela Geller has the shocking details plus audio of Rauf’s statements. Speaking in Australia in 2005, Rauf said these things and more:

“We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaida has on its hands of innocent non Muslims. You may remember that the US-led sanctions 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.”

Pamela Geller notes: “No mention of the 270 million victims of over a millennium of jihadi wars, land appropriations, cultural annihilation and enslavement. No mention of the recent slaughter by Muslims of Christians, Hindus, Jews, non-believers in Indonesia, Thailand, Ethiopia, Somalia, Philippines, Lebanon, Israel, Russia, China……………. no candor, no criticism of Islam.”

There is a great deal more, and it is damning. Be sure to read it all, and listen to the audio.

Jihad Watch

Aug 10

Anti-Muslim Activity At Ground Zero

by Chris Bodenner

This video, posted earlier, is an interesting contrast to this one:

A man walks through the crowd at the Ground Zero protest and is
mistaken as a Muslim. The crowd turns on him and confronts him. The man
in the blue hard hat calls him a coward and tries to fight him. The
tall man who I think was one of the organizers tried to get between the
two men. Later I caught up with the man who's name is Kenny. He is a
Union carpenter who works at Ground Zero. We discussed what a scary
moment that was for him. I told him that I hoped it did not ruin his

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The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Aug 10

Hannity, Bozell Tackle Media Bias Surrounding Ground Zero Mosque Issue

The mainstream media are telling us that "it’s the fringe that’s upset" about the Ground Zero mosque, but polling data show "it’s 70 percent of the American people," NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell noted on Friday’s "Hannity" program.

"That means every conservative, every moderate, and some liberals too" think the Ground Zero mosque is in extremely poor taste, leaving only "the far left and people still dropping acid," who fail to see why it’s controversial, the Media Research Center founder quipped.

"If Barack Obama runs on this in 2012, he will make Jimmy Carter look good by comparison…. This is how bad this position is, and everybody understands it except for the press," Bozell argued later in the "Media Mash" segment.

For the segment’s audio, click here to download the MP3. Click the play button on the embed above for video, or click here to download the WMV video file. – Exposing Liberal Media Bias

Aug 10

Muslim Activity At Ground Zero!

by Chris Bodenner

Miral Sattar features footage from inside the site of the proposed Cordoba center:

So the question remains: if the "Ground Zero" mosque already exists, does it nullify the debate?

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The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Aug 10

The Near Ground Zero is a Bridge to What … Mosque Planner Daisy Khan Says Opposition Goes “Beyond Islamophobia, It’s hate of Muslims.”


THE BIG LIE … The near Ground Zero Mosque is meant to bring peace, understanding and a bridge between religions, REALLY?

Eventually in the end the truth comes out. Billed as a project of peace and understanding, “We the People” are beginning to see exactly what we suspected all along. So if you are outraged and do not believe that a mosque should be built near Ground Zero, the site of 9-11 where nearly 300 innocent people were murdered, you are now branded an Islamophobia and you hate  Muslims. These are the words from mosque planner Daisy Khan,“It’s beyond Islamophobia. It’s hate of Muslims.” Oh the tolerance from the Muslim Daisy Khan who cannot accept that people actually might object, not to the practice of the Muslim religion, but to the building of a mosque so close to Ground Zero.

So this is the tolerance and compassion that we can expect? Nice PR Daisy, where did you get your lessons from BP Oil?

A leader of a planned Muslim community center near Manhattan’s Ground Zero compared opposition to the project to the persecution of Jews, in comments that could add to the controversy over the center’s proposed site.

“We are deeply concerned, because this is like a metastasized antisemitism,” said Daisy Khan, who is spearheading the project with her husband, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. “It’s beyond Islamophobia. It’s hate of Muslims.”

Ms. Khan, appearing on ABC News’s “This Week” on Sunday, vowed to push ahead with plans to build a 15-story complex two blocks from the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in lower Manhattan, saying there was “too much at stake.”

The words could further inflame an already angry debate about the proposed location of the community center, which opponents denounce as a “victory mosque.” Rival protests for and against the $ 100 million center were planned in lower Manhattan on Sunday.

So then Daisy Khan, are the families who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001 Islamophobes and hate Muslims as well? I think we now see why people are in opposition to this mosque. There is an ulterior agenda working here. For some one who wants to build bridges, they are awfully quick to slander people and attack them. For Daisy Klan and the planners of this Muslim mosque, it’s my way or the highway. Way to build bridges folks, by calling 70% of Americans bigots, NICE.

So does Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hate Muslims, do the many Democrat and Republican politicians hate Muslims as well? IsRima Fakif, the first Muslim woman to win Miss USA and a practicing Muslim, an Islamophobe? The fact of the matter is Daisy Khan, that the very rights that you claim of Freedom of Religion to build the mosque where you please are the very same rights “WE THE PEOPLE” have of FREEDOM OF SPEECH in opposition against you.

Freedom of Speech is a double edged sword … we finally see what these mosque planners are all about.

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Scared Monkeys

Aug 10

At Ground Zero anti-Islam rally, man harassed for looking vaguely Muslim.

At an anti-Islam rally yesterday at Ground Zero, a person of color wearing a skull cap and wandering through the crowd was targeted with insults and nearly attacked by protesters for the offense of looking vaguely Muslim. The videographer summarized the episode this way:

A man walks through the crowd at the Ground Zero protest and is mistaken as a Muslim. The crowd turns on him and confronts him. The man in the blue hard hat calls him a coward and tries to fight him. The tall man who I think was one of the organizers tried to get between the two men. Later I caught up with the man who’s name is Kenny. He is a Union carpenter who works at Ground Zero. We discussed what a scary moment that was for him.

Glenn Greenwald observes that the video “shows some extremely ugly stuff that’s been unleashed.” Watch it:

Interesting way to “honor” Ground Zero, no?

Think Progress