In spite of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s recent New York Times op-ed written to calm American concerns about the Ground Zero mosque, as the bright light of public scrutiny shines on this proposed mosque, Americans are discovering elements of radical Islam previously unknown to them.
The controversy has led countless Americans, puzzled and disturbed by the motivation and insensitivity of Imam Rauf and his backers, to begin evaluating the threat of radical Islam beyond the isolated context of terrorism.
Islam’s history has shown, for example, there is powerful symbolism in choosing where to construct mosques. Built on sites of military victories, mosques have traditionally symbolized the triumph and supremacy of Islam over all other religions and people: Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem was built on top of Solomon’s Temple; the Umayyad mosque in Damascus is over the church of St. John the Baptist; more than 2,000 mosques are on the footprints of Hindu Temples in India.
While America does not have a religious center per se, in the eyes of radical Islam our “religion” is capitalism and the destruction of the World Trade Center was like the sack of Constantinople.
Does Ground Zero mosque Imam Rauf view his proposed mosque through this lens? Honestly, we can’t know for sure.
But even if he doesn’t, there is no doubt that many in the Muslim world will regard the construction of a mosque at Ground Zero as a tribute to Islamic victory over “infidel” America. Islamist leaders worldwide will employ the symbolism of a mosque at Ground Zero as a recruiting tool to jihad, swelling their ranks and escalating the threat against America.
This debate is forcing the American people to take a long- overdue look at the harsh reality of a political ideology which is in its very nature antithetical to the fundamental values of liberty and justice as practiced in America and Western societies.
People are asking the kinds of questions I had to confront decades ago: What exactly is “sharia law?” Why is there such an increase in homegrown jihadists today than ten or even five years ago? Who are the “moderate” Muslims, and why aren’t they speaking out more aggressively against the “radicals?”
Rauf and his supporters certainly did not anticipate the degree and intensity of the blowback they are getting. On the contrary, he quietly greased the skids for this project, meeting behind the scenes with various elected officials and opinion leaders to get their blessing.
Unfortunately, those he met with failed to do the due diligence that would have exposed his real agenda. They accepted at face value his soothing platitudes of tolerance and interfaith dialogue, platitudes for which he has shown contempt in writings and statements in the Arabic world.
Imam Rauf repeats these platitudes in his lengthy New York Times op-ed, clearly hoping that Americans will believe him. But thanks to probing investigations done by investigative reporters, bloggers and watchdog organizations, a robust debate has surrounded the proposed mosque.
More Americans now know that Rauf, as recently as March, said in Arabic that he opposes interfaith dialogue. They know he is a vocal supporter of sharia law, that he says governments which do not employ sharia law are “unjust” and that he has refused to label Hamas a terrorist organization. They know he has refused to sign the “Freedom Pledge,” issued by Former Muslims United, which pledges to oppose retaliation and punishment toward Muslims who leave Islam. The more Americans learn, the more concerned they become.
As a Lebanese immigrant I am as proud to be an American as at any time since I arrived in this great nation. Grassroots America is rising up in opposition to this symbol of Islamist victory, ignoring the hectoring and name-calling of our politically-correct “elites.”
Undoubtedly there are different reasons for why 70% of Americans oppose the building of the mosque. But whether the motivation is concern for the 9/11 victims or concern about the advance of sharia law that Imam Rauf advocates, the American people are saying “enough is enough.”
That is the only language Islamists understand.
Terrorists are only one manifestation of radical Islam. As Americans look even closer they will come to realize that the same ideology that produces a terrorist also produces a seemingly moderate Muslim who is dedicated to the advancement and imposition of sharia law. They will learn that the Islamist in a suit and tie, who wants to replace the Constitution with sharia law, differs from the terrorist only in the means to the end, not the end itself.