A human-rights group is calling on Americans – especially family and friends of loved ones who were lost when Muslim terrorists murdered 2,751 people in the name of Allah on Sept. 11, 2001 – to fight construction of a 13-story Islamic mosque to be built just steps from Ground Zero.
The five-story building at Park Place, just blocks north of the former World Trade Center site, was the site of a Burlington Coat Factory. That was, until a plane's landing-gear assembly crashed through the roof on the day 19 Muslim terrorists hijacked the airliners and flew them into the Twin Towers in 2001.
Now Muslim worshippers currently occupy the building, and they plan to turn it into a major Islamic cultural center called the Cordoba House.
The group Stop Islamization of America, or SIOA, led by Pamela Geller, Atlas Shrugs blogger and columnist, is hosting a "No 9/11 Mosque" rally at Ground Zero June 6 at noon to protest the construction.
"What could be more insulting and humiliating than a monster mosque in the shadow of the World Trade Center buildings that were brought down by an Islamic jihad attack?" asked Geller, executive director of SIOA. "Any decent, American, Muslim or otherwise, wouldn't dream of such an insult. It's a stab in eye of America."
As WND reported, the building – previously vacant since that fateful day when time stood still as millions of Americans grieved the loss of loved ones, friends, family members, co-workers and strangers – was purchased last July by real-estate company Soho Properties, a business run by Muslims. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, founder of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, or ASMA, was an investor in that transaction.
Rauf has announced his plans to turn the building into a complete Islamic cultural center, with a mosque, a museum, "merchandising options," and room for seminars to reconcile religions, "to counteract the backlash against Muslims in general, " Speigel reported. The project may cost as much as $150 million. Plans for the facility also include a 500-seat performing arts theater, fitness center, swimming pool, library, public conference rooms, basketball courts and restaurants, according to the Tribeca Tribune.
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Rauf said the mosque is expected to be a major step forward in the Americanization of the Muslim community and that if everything is done correctly, his group intends to franchise the concept and build more Cordoba Houses in other American cities and around the globe.
The Cordoba Initiative website states:
Cordoba Initiative aims to achieve a tipping point in Muslim-West relation within the next decade, bringing back that atmosphere of interfaith tolerance and respect that we have longed for since Muslims, Christians and Jews lived together in harmony and prosperity eight hundred years ago.
Solving some of the most intractable conflicts in the world today requires innovative strategies for cross-cultural engagement. Cordoba Initiative tackles this mandate with forethought, expertise and the ability to leverage contacts in influential positions within the Muslim World and the West. ... [Bold in original text.]
He told the New York Times that purchasing the building "where a piece of the wreckage fell sends the opposite statement to what happened on 9/11."
"It was almost obvious that something like this had to arise from the ashes of 9/11," Daisy Khan, the Cordoba Initiative executive director, told Spiegel. "In some way, this has the hand of the divine written over it. It's almost as if God wanted to be involved."
The move is supported by the city. The Manhattan Community Board 1's Financial District Committee gave the plans a round of applause during a May 5 presentation, according to the Tribeca Tribune. The committee voted unanimously in favor of the center's construction.
In its list of business associations, Community Board 1 includes Masjid al-Farah, another mosque located at 245 West Broadway, where Rauf is spiritual leader. The mosque near Ground Zero, and future site of the Cordoba House, currently serves as an overflow building for Masjid al-Farah.
The mayor's director of the Office of Immigrant Affairs, Fatima Shama, told the Times just last year, "We as New York Muslims have as much of a commitment to rebuilding New York as anybody."
Aerial photo of World Trade Center Ground Zero following Sept. 11 attacks. Red square to right of Ground Zero marks former Burlington Coat Factory and proposed location of Cordoba House.
Imam Rauf, born in Egypt, has written three books: "What's Right with Islam: A New Vision for Muslims and the West," "Islam: A Sacred Law" and "Islam: A Search for Meaning."
WND reported in 2003 when, at least four times that year, the FBI's New York field office held all-day sensitivity training sessions, not far from Ground Zero, featuring Rauf.
Speaking for about two hours each session, "he gave an overview of Islamic culture and some of the differences between what fundamentalist terrorist groups say are the teachings of the Quran and what he believes, as a student of religion, the Quran actually says," said special agent James Margolin, spokesman for the FBI New York office.
Rauf asserted that the Quran "certainly doesn't counsel terrorism, murder or mayhem," Margolin said. And he said terrorists have misinterpreted the Quranic term "jihad" to mean violent, or armed, struggle against nonbelievers. Rauf claims it means internal struggle.
Rauf was invited to speak in Sydney, Australia, by Premier Bob Carr in 2004. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, he said the U.S. and the West must acknowledge the harm they've done to Muslims before terrorism can end.
He said the West must understand the terrorists' point of view – and he blamed Christians for starting mass attacks on civilians.
"The Islamic method of waging war is not to kill innocent civilians. But it was Christians in World War II who bombed civilians in Dresden and Hiroshima, neither of which were military targets," he said.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf (center) poses in a photo with attendees at a 2006 Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. On the far left is Sultan Muhammad, communications coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Chicago. (photo: CAIR Chicago)
According to the report, Rauf said there would be little progress until the U.S. acknowledged backing dictators and the U.S. president gave an "America Culpa" speech to the Muslim world.
On June 4, 2009, President Obama gave a speech to the Muslim world from Cairo, in which he stated:
I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings. … So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn't. And I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.
Rauf praised Obama for "embracing Islam in the peacemaking process" in his speech. He wrote in the Washington Post:
The historic significance of President Obama's speech to the Muslim world in Cairo cannot be overstated. Never before has an American president spoken to the global Muslim community. His speech marked a major shift in American foreign policy. … In just a few sentences he demolished the phony theory of the 'Clash of Civilizations,' which insists that Islam and the West must always be in conflict. Instead, he declared the United States is not at war with Islam and outlined a plan for how the conflict can be resolved. … He captured the attention of Muslims because, unlike most politicians, he was willing to critique both his own country and Muslims where they fell short of their ideals.
In an interview with BeliefNet on Islam and America, a reporter asked Rauf, "Some Islamic charities are being investigated for terrorist ties. Have you seen what you consider to be reputable Islamic charities being financially damaged?"
"We believe that a certain portion of every charity has been legitimate," he responded. "To say that you have connections with terrorism is a very gray area. It's like the accusation that Saddam Hussein had links to Osama bin Laden. Well, America had links to Osama bin Laden – does that mean that America is a terrorist country or has ties to terrorism?"
In 2004, Rauf participated in a 30-second advertisement, broadcast on Arabic television, in which he apologized for alleged abuses at Abu Ghraib prison.
The Times reported Rauf said he believes "Islamic terrorists do not come from another moral universe – that they arise from oppressive societies that he feels Washington had a hand in creating."
Scheduled speakers at the "No 9/11 Mosque" rally include: Geller will host the event with SIOA Associate Director Robert Spencer, best-selling author and director of Jihad Watch.
"The only Muslim center that should be built in the shadow of the World Trade Center is one that is devoted to expunging the Quran and all Islamic teachings of the violent jihad that they prescribe, as well as all hateful texts and incitement to violence," Geller said in a release announcing the protest.
As WND reported last year, readers of various blogs have been outraged at the news of the mosque. Comments included the following:
- Muslims are doing this only to see if they get away with it. It's the way Islam spreads in every country these days, like a cancer – through incremental totalitarianism. In this case, they'll quietly open the mosque, then, as they get away with it, they'll ramp up their outrages until someone finally points it out. At that time, their lawyers, backed by the ACLU and various liberal organizations, will pounce.
- This is not different than allowing the Nazis to establish their headquarters and propaganda office in NYC in 1938. How come people could tell right from wrong then and not now?
- What bonehead allowed this to happen?
- That's disgusting. That truly is low. I feel bad for the people who lost family members.
- This is outrageous. I just don't have words.
- You've got to be kidding me. If this is true, our beloved country is already gone. We no longer have the America I know and love.
- Who wants to bet this place becomes a "tourist attraction" for Muslims? This mosque will become one of Islam's holiest shrines as it sits upon the site of their greatest modern military victory.
(Note: Concerned individuals may e-mail Mayor Michael Bloomberg, call his office at (212) 639-9675 or fax (212) 788-8123. Manhattan's Community Board 1 may be reached by e-mail, by phone at (212) 442-5050 or by fax at (212) 442-5055.)
- Good idea. Maybe terrorists will be less likely to bomb this area if there's a mosque there.