Claudia Rosett discovers that Feisal Abdul Rauf's wife, Daisy Khan, will be going to the Middle East on a State Department trip to perform "public diplomacy." Of course, Rauf, the organizer behind the Ground Zero mosque, is currently on his own controversial State Department funded trip to perform "public diplomacy." Here's Rosett:
Among the prime planners of a $100 million Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero, it's not just Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf who is visiting the Middle East this summer at U.S. taxpayer expense. The State Department is also about to send Rauf's wife and Cordoba Initiative fellow director, Daisy Khan, on her own taxpayer-funded "public diplomacy" trip to the United Arab Emirates. Khan is scheduled to visit the UAE from Aug. 29 to Sept. 2, overlapping there with Rauf, for whom it will be the final leg of a three-country trip including Bahrain and Qatar.
The U.S. Embassy in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi has posted on its website an announcement of the impending visit by this husband-wife team. Rauf and Khan will be there, the announcement says, "to engage foreign audiences and build people-to-people ties" and to "discuss their experiences as Muslims living and working in the United States."
What might their discussions entail? Rauf, since his Cordoba Initiative's Ground Zero mosque project triggered a national uproar, has spent the summer as an enigma. Before embarking on his State-sponsored tour, he walled himself off for weeks in Malaysia, where he has longstanding ties and keeps an office. His Cordoba website now features a note that Rauf could not be available (apparently not even by phone) to explain himself to the people of New York because "he travels the world in his life-long endeavor to bring the message of moderation, peace and understanding to both Western and Islamic countries."
In Rauf's absence, Daisy Khan has been speaking prolifically from New York about the Cordoba House mega-mosque project (which the developer recently re-dubbed Park 51, and the Cordoba House is now describing as a "community center"). Her message, like the name of the project, has been morphing at speed. When Rauf and Khan won approval for their 15-story mosque-topped Cordoba House from a Manhattan community board this spring, they advertised their project as all about doing their part for harmony and healing near the site of the Sept. 11 attacks.
To learn more about Khan, and her belief that criticism of the Ground Zero mosque is "like metastasized antisemitism," watch her interview with Christiane Amanpour from this past weekend: