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Confirmed: State Dept. Sending Ground Zero Mosque Imam on Middle East Junket

Your tax dollars at work.

7:30 PM, Aug 10, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Claudia Rosett was first to report on Friday that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the man spearheading the Ground Zero Mosque initiative, is about to take a month-long trip through the Middle East sponsored by the U.S. government:

Ultimately, in response to repeated questions, a member of Rauf's New York Cordoba Initiative foundation e-mailed me Friday, saying that Rauf's trip to the Middle East, "in the near future," will be hosted by the U.S. government as part of an outreach program to "bring the message of moderation, peace and understanding."

At the State Department, which presumably will be spending taxpayer money on Rauf's tour, I have yet to receive confirmation or any other information about his program, despite three days of my repeated requests by phone and e-mail.

Fox News gets confirmation from the State Department:

State Department officials on Monday confirmed Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Imam of the so-called Ground Zero Mosque, will soon be going on a trip of the Middle East and the U.S. government will be picking up the tab. [...]

“He is a distinguished Muslim cleric,” said State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley. “We do have a program whereby, through our Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau here at the State Department, we send people from Muslim communities here in this country around the world to help people overseas understand our society and the role of religion within our society.” [...]

The State Department has not yet divulged a detailed itinerary of Rauf’s trip, although Arab media is reporting he will visit the oil rich states of Saudi Arabia, The United Arab Emirates and Abu Dhabi.

“It is to foster greater understanding and outreach around the world, among… Muslim- majority communities,” said Crowley. “We've done this many, many times, with many leading figures… over the past few years.”

If the purpose of the junket is to "help people overseas understand our society"--and not to help Rauf raise the $100 million for his mosque--wouldn't it make sense to send someone representative of the vast majority of Americans who oppose the Ground Zero mosque? Perhaps the State Department could send someone--maybe Juan Williams or Rich Lowry or Abe Foxman or Bill McGurn or David Harsanyi or Neda Bolourchi or Sarah Palin or Rod Dreher or Christopher Caldwell or Bill Kristol--to explain to the people of the world that Americans aren't bigots but simply find it offensive and insensitive to build a mosque two blocks from the site of a horrific Islamist terrorist attack?

While there's no shortage of potentially eloquent ambassadors who could convey to the world the majority sentiment in America, the best man for the job is probably Greg Gutfeld, whose proposal to build a Muslim-friendly gay bar next to the Ground Zero mosque is doing wonders to foster a dialogue about "consider[ing] the sensibilities" of one's neighbors.

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