While unconvincingly critical (to me) of the “Cordoba Initiative’s” opponents, Christopher Hitchens is, nonetheless, skeptical of the Ground Zero “bridge builder”:
…From the beginning…I pointed out that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf was no great bargain and that his Cordoba Initiative was full of euphemisms about Islamic jihad and Islamic theocracy. I mentioned his sinister belief that the United States was partially responsible for the assault on the World Trade Center and his refusal to take a position on the racist Hamas dictatorship in Gaza. The more one reads through his statements, the more alarming it gets. For example, here is Rauf’s editorial on the upheaval that followed the brutal hijacking of the Iranian elections in 2009. Regarding President Obama, he advised that:
“He should say his administration respects many of the guiding principles of the 1979 revolution—to establish a government that expresses the will of the people; a just government, based on the idea of Vilayet-i-faquih, that establishes the rule of law.”
Coyly untranslated here (perhaps for “outreach” purposes), Vilayet-i-faquih is the special term promulgated by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to describe the idea that all of Iranian society is under the permanent stewardship (sometimes rendered as guardianship) of the mullahs. Under this dispensation, “the will of the people” is a meaningless expression, because “the people” are the wards and children of the clergy. It is the justification for a clerical supreme leader, whose rule is impervious to elections and who can pick and choose the candidates and, if it comes to that, the results. It is extremely controversial within Shiite Islam. (Grand Ayatollah Sistani in Iraq, for example, does not endorse it.) As for those numerous Iranians who are not Shiites, it reminds them yet again that they are not considered to be real citizens of the Islamic Republic.
I do not find myself reassured by the fact that Imam Rauf publicly endorses the most extreme and repressive version of Muslim theocracy. The letterhead of the statement, incidentally, describes him as the Cordoba Initiative’s “Founder and Visionary.” Why does that not delight me, either?
Emboldened by the crass nature of the opposition to the center, its defenders have started to talk as if it represented no problem at all and as if the question were solely one of religious tolerance. It would be nice if this were true. But tolerance is one of the first and most awkward questions raised by any examination of Islamism. We are wrong to talk as if the only subject was that of terrorism. As Western Europe has already found to its cost, local Muslim leaders have a habit, once they feel strong enough, of making demands of the most intolerant kind. Sometimes it will be calls for censorship of anything “offensive” to Islam. Sometimes it will be demands for sexual segregation in schools and swimming pools. The script is becoming a very familiar one. And those who make such demands are of course usually quite careful to avoid any association with violence. They merely hint that, if their demands are not taken seriously, there just might be a teeny smidgeon of violence from some other unnamed quarter …
As for the gorgeous mosaic of religious pluralism, it’s easy enough to find mosque Web sites and DVDs that peddle the most disgusting attacks on Jews, Hindus, Christians, unbelievers, and other Muslims—to say nothing of insane diatribes about women and homosexuals. This is why the fake term Islamophobia is so dangerous: It insinuates that any reservations about Islam must ipso facto be “phobic.” A phobia is an irrational fear or dislike. Islamic preaching very often manifests precisely this feature, which is why suspicion of it is by no means irrational.
From my window, I can see the beautiful minaret of the Washington, D.C., mosque on Massachusetts Avenue. It is situated at the heart of the capital city’s diplomatic quarter, and it is where President Bush went immediately after 9/11 to make his gesture toward the “religion of peace.” A short while ago, the wife of a new ambassador told me that she had been taking her dog for a walk when a bearded man accosted her and brusquely warned her not to take the animal so close to the sacred precincts. Muslim cabdrivers in other American cities have already refused to take passengers with “unclean” canines.
Another feature of my local mosque that I don’t entirely like is the display of flags outside, purportedly showing all those nations that are already Muslim. Some of these flags are of countries like Malaysia, where Islam barely has a majority, or of Turkey, which still has a secular constitution. At the United Nations, the voting bloc of the Organization of the Islamic Conference nations is already proposing a resolution that would circumscribe any criticism of religion in general and of Islam in particular. So, before he is used by our State Department on any more goodwill missions overseas, I would like to see Imam Rauf asked a few searching questions about his support for clerical dictatorship in, just for now, Iran. Let us by all means make the “Ground Zero” debate a test of tolerance. But this will be a one-way street unless it is to be a test of Muslim tolerance as well.
And in today’s Wall Street Journal, a letter by Patrick Coloney:
Through centuries of bloody wars among themselves, Christians have derived the principle of freedom of religion as the solution that allows their multiple denominations to cohere for the most part in successful, peaceful, secular societies. And by extension, the nonproselytizing faiths are able to fit in well to that kind of tolerant, secular society. These various faiths do their spiritual endeavors according to their choice, and then meet in the common, secular market places and society to do whatever else they need or desire to do, in mutual respect.
A key differentiating factor of Islam compared to the other major faiths is that Islam was not conceived as a “religion” that can be compartmentalized in the spiritual realm separate from everyday life. Instead, it was devised as a total solution to all aspects of life: spiritual, economic, legal, societal, domestic and political. Islam is an entire way of organizing society, as exemplified by Saudi Arabia in the land of its origin.
The structure of their compartmentalized faiths allows Christians, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus to coexist in a multicultural society. The prevailing Islamic understanding of the world is that a person or nation is in the Dar al Islam (the House of Islam where the entire society is organized on Islamic principles) or in the Dar al Harb (the House of War). The Dar al Harb is that part of the world that is not Islamic—yet.
The Muslims understand this. Those who are in the House of War also had better understand it at least as well as the Muslims do.
The Daily Caller documents the U.S. government has been spending your tax dollars to renovate mosques around the world:
While much attention has been focused on questions surrounding the Ground Zero mosque and the appropriateness of the State Department funding Ground Zero mosque imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s trip to the Middle East, little attention has been given to the fact that U.S. taxpayer money is funding mosque development around the world.
Just a cursory search of the term “mosque” on the State Department’s list of “projects” reveals 26 examples of federal funds
going to fund construction, renovation, and rehabilitation of various mosques abroad. The benefiting countries include Bulgaria, Pakistan, Mali, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Benin, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Egypt, Tunisia, the Maldives, Yemen, Turkmenistan, Tanzania, Uganda, Azerbaijan, Sudan, Serbia and Montenegro…
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has also spent millions reconstructing and financing
multiple mosques in Cairo and Cyprus, as well as providing computers for imams in Tajikistan and Mali.
Interestingly, however, according to the Code of Federal Regulations, “USAID funds may not be used for the acquisition, construction, or rehabilitation of structures to the extent that those structures are used for inherently religious activities.”
Where’s are the ACLU and the other separation of chuch and state activists when you need them?