A MOSQUE is not the most provocative structure that could be erected in the vicinity of New York’s Ground Zero – an al-Qaeda training school, for example, would arouse more antipathy – but in the catalogue of tactless initiatives an Islamic cultural centre and mosque rank pretty high. This inflammatory gesture has so offended majority opinion in America that it is now set to become a major issue in the mid-term elections in November.
Ground Zero is the inelegant name for the Lower Manhattan site that is now America’s most evocative national shrine. In the Trade Center, whose twin towers formerly stood there, 2,752 people were murdered by Islamist fanatics. To erect a mosque just two blocks from that site is testing American tolerance to breaking point. Polls show that two thirds of the nation are opposed to this development and regard it as an insult to the 9/11 victims. They are right.
The stock excuse of Muslim and secular liberal supporters of the development, called Cordoba House, is that the 9/11 terrorists were promoting a perverted version of Islam, whereas Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who is heading the project, is a leading moderate involved in reconciliation work with non-Muslims. That argument would hold more water if Imam Rauf’s interfaith irenicism extended to recognising the sensitivities of 9/11 victims’ families and the wider public, impelling him to transfer the project to an alternative site. Instead, he has already rejected an offer by Governor David Paterson of New York to provide municipal land in a less sensitive area.
Such intransigence is more eloquent than Rauf’s writings about how inoffensive Islam is. Among New York’s 600,000 Muslims there is a general view that the mosque must be built. One of them said: “If this really is a free country then, by all rights, you must, you must allow it.” Nobody is denying that right to the Muslim community: even opponents of the mosque acknowledge the right to build it; what is in question is the wisdom of doing so and the lack of sensitivity towards the feelings of other Americans that it displays. Muslim comment on the subject has largely expressed a stubborn determination to proceed, with the paranoid implication that to change the site would somehow abdicate their rights as citizens: it has become a virility symbol.
Islamic paranoia pales to insignificance beside that of Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives and, within the ranks of Democrat fanatics, capo di tutti fruitcakes. Pelosi has created her own conspiracy theory: she has called for an investigation into the protests against the project, which she described as a “concerted effort to make this a political issue by some”, and to discover who is funding it.
When the Speaker of the House of Representatives imagines it would require funding to motivate Americans to protest against a mosque close to Ground Zero, it demonstrates the total divorce of the Obama clique from the feelings of mainstream America.
Her demand for an investigation also highlights the police-state mentality of the regime in confronting opposition.
The central axiom of politics in America today is that no situation is ever so dire that it cannot be aggravated by the intervention of Barack Obama. This controversy is no exception. On 13 August, at a White House dinner to celebrate the breaking of the Ramadan fast, Obama declared: “As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practise their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community centre on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.”
Some people might have thought that a foolhardy stance by a president with an Islamic background who has inexplicably lost his birth certificate. Democrats facing re-election at the November mid-terms must have wondered what more Obama could do to seal their doom. Many of those headed for the electoral abattoir must have made their feelings known, for the very next day President Pantywaist was in reverse gear: “I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there.”
That was an impressive demonstration of Obama’s skill in alienating all points of view in just 48 hours. This row will not go away. A protest rally is planned for 11 September, at which Geert Wilders will be a speaker.
American Muslims have only themselves to blame for the mounting hostility towards them. Newt Gingrich has called the mosque “an assertion of Islamist triumphalism”. What it undoubtedly reveals is how far the Islamic community, doggedly pursuing a “right” at the expense of sensitivity to others’ pain, remains unassimilated into mainstream America.
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