Rarely do you see a public figure make so many nonsensical, contradictory and arrogant statements as Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has made about his plan to build a mosque two blocks from ground zero.
Rauf says his entire being is invested in building bridges between Muslims and non-Muslims. Moreover, he says he is sensitive to the concerns of families of 9/11 victims who see a mosque so close to hallowed ground as hurtful.
“We need to build bridges, to build relationships, to build friendships, and to build a new chapter in Muslim/non-Muslim relations,” Rauf told CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien.
Yet in his interview with her, he insisted that, while he is always open to other ideas, the mosque is going ahead as planned. At the same time, he said if he had been aware beforehand that the mosque would stir up so much opposition, he never would have proposed it.
Then why not stop the plan now?
No, we cannot do that, he said. It would incite Muslims throughout the world. In making that pitch, Rauf used the same tactics as terrorists who try to intimidate us by threatening violence. And who appointed Rauf an expert on U.S. national security interests?
Throughout the interview, Rauf referred to opponents of the mosque — who comprise 71 percent of the American people, according to the polls — as “radicals.”
Asked if he still believes that the U.S. was an “accessory” to the 9/11 attacks and that Osama bin Laden was “made in the USA,” Rauf waffled. He said that while his comments were not “compassionate,” the U.S. had cooperated with bin Laden in fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.
A widespread Internet rumor, that claim is untrue, not to mention irrelevant.
In the end, Rauf never retracted his claim that the U.S. was in part responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
Rauf has since said he is exploring options for ending the controversy. It’s a little late. By allowing the issue to drag on, Rauf has turned many Americans against Muslims. As O’Brien noted, “There are plenty of Muslims, as I’ve been doing research, who have said this debate does not help us. This debate makes things more dangerous for us.”
Unfortunately, the FBI has encountered the same obstinacy when trying to elicit cooperation from Muslim leaders. As noted in the Newsmax story "Ground Zero Mosque Reveals Deeper Muslim Problem,"
while imams and Muslim community leaders talk about helping the FBI by bringing it leads, when it comes to action, they are unwilling to assist.
At one meeting with the FBI, a Muslim group suggested having a photo taken of its members with FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to show their community isn’t a bunch of terrorists and that they are partners in the war on terror.
A high-ranking counterterrorism agent replied, “Let me make a suggestion: When you bring to my attention real extremists who are here to plan and do something, who are here supporting terrorism, and I work that based on your information, then I promise you, I will have the director stand up on the stage with you.”
To the agent’s amazement, the answer was: “That could never happen. We would lose our constituency. We could never admit to bringing someone to the FBI.”
While there is “a lot of talk about engagement,” the agent says, “realistically, we’ve got a long, long way to go.”
As the FBI recognizes, the vast majority of Muslims are peace loving, and we need them on our side in the war on terror. Many of us have Muslim friends who are terrific people. But as long as Imam Rauf and other Muslim leaders speak out of both sides of their mouths, they will continue to generate suspicion of Muslims in general.
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via e-mail. Go here now.
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