Controversy is heating up on plans for building a giant, 15-story Islamic community center and mosque near Ground Zero.
Journalist Thomas Friedman and many others including New York's mayor consider the building of a mosque proof of American tolerance that will have positive impact on the Muslim world.
Yet others, myself included, say to the contrary that Radical Muslims and their sympathizers want to raise the giant mosque as a sign of victory of the jihadists over the U.S. Such a mosque would signal to the Islamic world that jihadists' overt and covert attacks against America and its interests are succeeding and should be continued.
Allowing the erection of a Ground Zero mosque would enable jihadists to extend their narrative of success: "First our 9/11 attacks destroyed the World Trade Center, symbol of American power, and now the mosque symbolizes Islam's rise to power within America."
How is the public to know which side is correct? Fortunately, Friedman's hypothesis that the Islamic world respects religious tolerance can be tested.
One test would be to ask mosque leaders to request that Saudi Arabian leaders reciprocally allow churches and synagogues to be built in their country.
A second test would be to ask questions that would clarify if the mosque's proponents are truly moderates or in fact jihadist radicals disguised as moderates. Americans who defend the building of this mosque could ask the mosque's Islamic proponents to publicly post to the media and on their websites answers to the following questions:
1. Islamic law (Shariah) states that Muslims who convert to Christianity must be killed (Redda Law), women in adulterous relationships must be stoned to death, men can beat their wives to discipline them, and homosexuals should be killed.
Are you willing to recommend that these traditional Muslim practices be banned and to condemn countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran which accept such practices as religiously mandated?
2. Several Muslim texts declare that Jews are pigs and monkeys and that killing Jews before "end days" is a religious duty for Muslims.
Are you willing to declare that these texts must be changed and/or reinterpreted and that Islamic teaching of such anti-Semitic values must stop?
3. Muslim texts that are approved by all the schools of jurisprudence in Islam (Shafeii, Hanbali, Maleki, and Hanafi) state that Muslims must declare wars against non-Muslims to spread Islam and those they conquer must either convert to Islam, pay Jizya (a humiliating tax), or be killed.
Are you willing to declare that this belief, used in "Foutohhat Islameia," the early wars to spread Islam, and praised currently in much of the Muslim world, is un-Islamic and unacceptable?
Mosque leaders issue statements such as, "Islam is the religion of peace," "Islam respects freedom of religion," "Islam is the religion that gave them their rights," or "Islam is not anti-Semitic." Their answers to the questions above about Shariah teachings would clarify if it would be unfair to call these leaders jihadist Islamic radicals, or if in fact their statements about Islam are misleading propaganda.
Are Islamic Mosque advocates willing to declare publicly, in English and in Arabic, that their answers to these three questions are yes? If so, let the mosque proceed. If not, plans to build a shrine to Islam near the grounds of the World Trade Center are contrary to America's values should be halted immediately.
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