The Ground Zero project to erect a monument to sharia overlooking the crater where the World Trade Center once stood, and where thousands were slaughtered, is not a test of America’s commitment to religious liberty. America already has thousands of mosques and Islamic centers, including scores in the New York area — though Islam does not allow non-Muslims even to enter its crown-jewel cities of Mecca and Medina, much less to build churches or synagogues.
The Ground Zero project is a test of America’s resolve to face down a civilizational jihad that aims, in the words of its leaders, to destroy us from within.
Andy McCarthy, NRO, Rauf’s Dawa from the World Trade Center Rubble, 24 July 2010
Islam presents America and the West with a unique challenge. One of the founding principles of our nation is freedom of religion. Yet at least a portion of the Muslim population seeks to use that freedom - along with the rest of our freedoms - to attack our nation both from within and without. Call them Islamic radicals, political Islamists, or what you will. The flip side of that coin is that the majority of the Muslim population is benign, they have no desire to be at war with America, nor do they desire to live under the heavy hand of Sharia law. Distinguishing between those two sets of Muslims is, for most Americans, impossible thanks to our government's refusal to educate America and identify our enemies.
As it stands today, Obama is pretending that nothing about Islam is implicated in the terrorist attacks against us. It is a risible canard that invites disaster. It is not fooling any American with a pulse. Unfortunately, while Americans can understand that some Muslims are in a religious war against us, most are in no position to distinguish anything beyond that. As Muslim reformer Dr. Zhudi Jasser recently stated, it is past time for our government "to take sides" and stop treating Muslims as a single entity.
With that in mind, we have today a series of mosques proposed for building throughout America, the only one of which should be controversial is Imam Feisal Abdul-Rauf's Cordoba Initiative to build an Islamic Center overlooking ground zero. Polls today show that a vast majority of New Yorkers - a majority that crosses all religious, ethnic and ideological lines - do not want that mosque built. And indeed, many Muslims are also speaking out against this proposal - see Zhudi Jasser, Stephen Schwartz and other Muslims, including those who lost family members in the 9-11 attacks. As Robert Avrech points out at Seraphic Secret, the Mayor, the left, and Islamic supremicsts who want to see the Islamic Center built are attacking their opponents by labeling them religious bigots. It is not but a variant on the race card used to delegitimize opposition. And like the race card, it is not working now. But it is raising the ire of all fair minded Americans who oppose the Islamic Center not on grounds of bigotry, but on grounds of decency and a refusal to be subservient.
Unfortunately, the proposal to build that mosque has raised public ire that is not just being directed at the Ground Zero project, but is also overflowing into opposition to the building of mosques throughout our nation. In what could be a very bad turn of events, some Americans are striking out against Islam generally, not discriminating between radical or political Islamists and those who are benign. If this is not addressed, it will be of far more importance than the Ground Zero Islamic Center. It is a problem our government needs to address with honesty.
Almost from my first post on this blog, I have repeatedly said that our government needs to identify our enemies within the Islamic world and differentiate them from the rest of the Islamic world. The reasons are fourfold.
One, we as a nation need to understand the nature of the threat so that we can recognize and defend against its danger. This is so obvious that it borders on the criminal that our government still refuses to do it. One cannot cannot treat a cancer if one refuses to diagnose cancer as step one.
Two, identifying the threat will allow us to harness the greatest force our republic can muster, public opinion. It will allow our nation to collectively shine a light upon - and bring pressure for reform to bear upon - those in the Islamic world who practice forms of Islam that give give rise to religiously inspired violence and terrorism. Indeed, if Americans fully understood some of the incredibly racist and violent dogma of Salafism, they would be horrified and moved to action. Or to restate it in the words of former Salafi terrorist Dr. Tawfiq Hamid:
The civilized world ought to recognize the immense danger that Salafi Islam poses; it must become informed, courageous and united if it is to protect both a generation of young Muslims and the rest of humanity from the disastrous consequences of this militant ideology.
Three, defining the threat would allow us to identify and support those in the Islamic world who seek to reform their religion. There are many, but they are voices in the wilderness today, lacking large scale support and up against all the petro-dollars of Saudi Arabia. Theirs is an existential battle for the heart and soul of Islam.
Fourth and lastly, if we fail to identify our enemies, then we lump into the same camp with our enemies those who would reform Islam and those who do not embrace "political Islam." This virtually insures that we will be misled by those who seek to forward the cause of political Islam, that we will make enemies of the majority of Muslims otherwise predisposed to supporting our nation, and that we will wholly undercut those who would reform Islam.
To be specific, our "enemies" are the practitioners of the veleyat-e-faqi in the Shia world, and in the Sunni world, practitioners of Salafi / Wahhabi schools and other schools of Islam influenced by Wahhabi / Salafi dogma, including Deobandi Islam. And unfortunately, Wahhabi / Salafi Islam is coming to influence many of the other schools of Islam. I document these realities in detail here.
Having said all of that, it is surprising that Feisal Abdul-Rauf, the man driving the Cordoba Initiative, is nominally a Sufi Muslim. Sufism is a mystical sect of Islam and largely benign. But Rauf certainly shows attitudes unusual for a Sufi, including his embrace of Hamas, his belief that America was to blame for 9-11, and a long association with Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood. This is all the more surprising since Sufis are hated by ideologically pure Salafists and, indeed, were recently the subject of brutal attacks at the hands of Salafists in Pakistan. Author Steven Schwartz, himself a Sufi Muslim, noted in a recent article in the NY Post that none of these traits displayed by Rauf are in keeping with Sufism.
As Andy McCarthy states, in the quote at the top of this post, the case against Rauf's Ground Zero Islamic Center has nothing to do with freedom of religion and everything to do with facing down an existential threat to our way of life. For Bloomberg and the left to jam this down the throats of New Yorkers in particular and Americans as a whole - including American Muslims - is a boundless display of left wing arrogance and criminally negligent ignorance about the threat we face.
With the rise of the Ground Zero mosque issue, there has also been a significant growth in opposition to the building of mosques throughout our country. Dr. Zhudi Jasser addresses that anomaly in a recent article. Before going to his article, let me tell you about Dr. Jasser.
Dr. Jasser is a patriot. The son of immigrants from the Middle East, he has served our country as an officer in the military. He is a devout Muslim who has embraced the freedoms of America. He is also an articulate and implacable opponent of Sharia law and political Islam. When I speak of Muslim reformers, his is the first name that comes to my mind. He regularly engages Salafists and other proponents of "political Islam" in debates in order to educate Americans. Indeed, if you have not seen one of his debates, by all means, go here. It is a debate all Americans should see in full. Dr. Jasser has also established an organization, the American-Islamic Forum For Democracy, to push for reform of his religion and to fight against "political Islam." He was quoted in a recent AP article on the rise in general anti-Islamic feeling directed at Islam as whole in respect to the building of mosques in various parts of the US:
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.
Foes of proposed mosques have deployed dogs to intimidate Muslims holding prayer services and spray painted "Not Welcome" on a construction sign, then later ripped it apart.
The 13-story, $100 million Islamic center that could soon rise two blocks from the site of the Sept. 11 attacks would dwarf the proposals elsewhere, yet the smaller projects in local communities are stoking a sharper kind of fear and anger than has showed up in New York.
In the Nashville suburb of Murfreesboro, opponents of a new Islamic center say they believe the mosque will be more than a place of prayer. They are afraid the 15-acre site that was once farmland will be turned into a terrorist training ground for Muslim militants bent on overthrowing the U.S. government.
"They are not a religion. They are a political, militaristic group," said Bob Shelton, a 76-year-old retiree who lives in the area. . . .
In Temecula, Calif., opponents brought dogs to protest a proposed 25,000-square-foot mosque that would sit on four acres next to a Baptist church. Opponents worry it will turn the town into haven for Islamic extremists, but mosque leaders say they are peaceful and just need more room to serve members. . . .
Mosque leader Essam Fathy, who helped plan the new building in Murfreesboro, has lived there for 30 years.
"I didn't think people would try that hard to oppose something that's in the Constitution," he said. "The Islamic center has been here since the early '80s, 12 years in this location. There's nothing different now except it's going to be a little bigger."
Bagby said that hasn't stopped foes from becoming more virulent.
"It was there before, but it didn't have as much traction. The larger public never embraced it," he said. "The level of anger, the level of hostility is much higher in the last few years." . . .
Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, a nonprofit that advocates for reform and modernization of Islam, said opposing mosques is no way to prevent terrorism.
Neighbors didn't want his family to build a mosque in 1979 in Neenah, Wis., because they didn't understand who Muslims were.
"If the Wisconsin mosque had not been allowed to be built, I, at 17, might have put up walls and become a different person," he said. "If we start preventing these from being built, the backlash will be increased radicalization." . . .
If that doesn't frighten you, it should. The war of ideas is the most important battlefield in the war against Islamic extremism. Unless we engage in and help reformers to win the war of ideas, our grandchildren's grandchildren will still be fighting this war - and likely doing so at great cost in blood and gold. And indeed, it is only the reformers who can ultimately win the war of ideas. We can only help them or hurt them.
Unfortunately, the craven tack of our government in its treatment of Islam is starting to show predictable results. Americans are not fools, and when they feel under attack, as they have been since 9-11 and now with the Ground Zero mosque, they will push back - hard. Unable to distinguish the good from the bad, it is no surprise that some are doing so indiscriminately. If we begin to lose the young Zuhdi Jassers of our nation, then we will have completely lost the war of ideas against radical Islam. That would be an existential disaster.
Update: DO WATCH THIS VIDEO. It is from a moderate Muslim who does not merely come out against the Ground Zero Islamic Center, but who notes how efforts at reform in Islam are being harmed by the left who throw their support to radical Islamic elements. She highlights most of the points I was attempting to make above.
(H/T Hot Air)
Update: And then there is Fox's Greg Gutfeld who feels that if Rauf can show magnanimous tolerance, so can he.