The New York mosque controversy focuses excessively on its proximity to the Sept. 11 massacre site. The Park51 Islamic center would stand 560 feet from there.
Would moving it 5,600 feet away calm this storm?
Far more important is what would happen inside this mosque. That should determine if it should be even closer to ground zero, or if it even should open anywhere in America.
Imagine if the mosque's imam said this: "Our mosque will be the world headquarters of a new Islam that will do for our faith what the Protestant Reformation did for Christianity.
"We will pray every day to save the souls of the 2,752 innocents slaughtered at the World Trade Center in the name of a militant Islam that we wholeheartedly reject. We will pray every day for the rapid defeat of al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah, and other Islamic-extremist terrorists.
"We invite Jews, Christians, non-believers, and everyone else to join our efforts. And we humbly ask to do this adjacent to where radical Islam committed its greatest modern atrocity."
If this mosque's imam so preached, many and perhaps most Americans would agree that his antidote to al-Qaida's poison should stand 56 feet from the scene of its most heinous crime.
Instead, doubts grow about the moderation of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's voice.
He refuses to call Hamas terrorists.
Rauf said in 2005 that "the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al-Qaida has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims."
Most worrisome, Rauf embraces Shariah, the fundamentalist Islamic law responsible for too much of world's totalitarian barbarism.
"What Muslims want is a judiciary that ensures that the laws are not in conflict with the Quran and the Hadith," Rauf wrote in an April 24, 2009 Huffington Post essay titled, "What Sharia Law Is All About."
Rauf also wants to secure "religious communities more leeway to judge among themselves, according to their laws."
Shariah relies on the Quran, Hadith, and other Islamic texts to punish offenders, too often with sentences that stink of the 7th century A.D.
A Saudi Shariah court is seeking a hospital to enforce its penalty against one man who paralyzed another in an assault with a meat cleaver. Under Shariah's "eye-for-an-eye" principal, a Saudi judge wants to paralyze the attacker by severing his spinal cord. To their credit, Saudi doctors have refused to cooperate in this carnage.
Under Iran's Islamic law, The Guardian reports, 12 women and three men face death by stoning for adultery. After international criticism, Iranian jurists recently announced that several of these individuals instead would be hanged.
Since Shariah was implemented in northern Nigeria in 2000, at least 12 people have received death sentences for homosexuality and adultery. Most, however, have been commuted to mere jail time.
Since January, women in West Aceh, Indonesia, must wear long skirts. Police enforce this rule, sometimes by cutting pants that women are caught wearing. As local regent Ramli Mansur explained in the Aug. 18 Jakarta Globe: "When women don't dress according to Shariah law, they're asking to get raped."
"Muslim jurists are unanimous that apostates must be punished," the Muslim Brotherhood's spiritual leader, Qatari Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, declared about Islamic converts to other faiths. "Apostates must be executed."
Does Imam Rauf embrace such brutality? Who knows? But the fact that he wants the U.S. to be "Shariah compliant' rather than Shariah-free should worry every liberty-loving American.
While America battles militant Islam, should a pro-Shariah mosque be allowed on our soil? The First Amendment may permit Shariah advocacy, much as counseling Marxism-Leninism remained legal, even as Americans shivered through the Cold War.
Nevertheless, there is no excuse for leaders like Gotham's Mayor Michael Bloomberg and President Obama to applaud a mosque that would enshrine the grotesque and deadly doctrine of Shariah. Even 5,600 miles away, such a facility would not be far enough from ground zero.
Deroy Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. E-mail him at deroy.Murdock@gmail.com
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