It's worth looking into the leader behind the Ground Zero mosque.
6:15 PM, Aug 4, 2010 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
Rauf projects an inclusive attitude. Describing the Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow program, ASMA promises that it will include “representation of all religious ideologies & sects: (Shia, Sunni, Ismaili, Sufi, Salafi, secularists, traditionalist etc).” But “Salafi” is just a cover term for “Wahhabi”--the state sect in Saudi Arabia, which spreads around the globe its message of violence against Shias, Sunnis who reject “Salafism,” Ismailis, Sufis, secularists, and traditionalists.
Rauf, it is true, has recruited some Muslim dissidents and reformers to MLT, including the Canadian “Muslim refusenik” Irshad Manji and the Danish parliamentarian Naser Khader. Yet the radicals sponsored by MLT far outnumber such moderates. Islamists in the MLT roster include, in the U.S., Debbie Almontaser, the controversial nominee to head an Arabic-language high school in New York, the Khalil Gibran International Academy. Almontaser also took a leading role in a polemical assault on the New York Police Department led by the radical Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
In the Netherlands, ASMA has enrolled Mustafa Hamurcu and Nur Hamurcu from Milli Gorus, the anti-Jewish, conspiratorialist movement among Turkish Muslims.
In Britain, Rauf and ASMA have favored two academics, Tufyal Choudhury of Durham University and Hisham Hellyer of Warwick University, whose rhetoric focuses on Islamist grievances, mainly imagined. Choudhury has argued that tension between Muslims and non-Muslims in Europe is inevitable, and that integration of Muslims should be defined as “management of conflict.” Hellyer has alleged that security issues caused by Islamist terrorism have imposed restrictions on “housing, health, education” for European Muslims--an absurd charge.
Among British Muslims selected for MLT we also find three of the most assiduous detractors of Muslim moderates in the island. These are Aftab Ahmad Malik, an acolyte of the radical preacher Hamza Yusuf Hanson; Masud Ahmed Khan, who operates a website called deenport.com as a monitor against anti-extremist Muslims, and Fareena Alam. Alam’s contributions include a retrospective defense, in a 2007 London Guardian column, of John Walker Lindh, the American captured in 2001 fighting in Taliban ranks and sentenced to prison. Fareena Alam described Lindh as “the focus of a campaign of disinformation” and victim of a “gross miscarriage of justice.”
Another citation from Alam eloquently expresses the outlook prevalent among those Feisal Abdul Rauf hopes will be the Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow. In mid-July 2010 she was quoted about debates over the headscarf and face coverings among Muslim women in Europe: the issue, she said, “has more to do with Europe's own identity crisis than with the presence of some 'dangerous other'. At a time when post-communist, secular, democratic Europe was supposed to have been ascendant, playing its decisive role at the end of history, Islam came and spoiled the party.” So triumphalist a view is hardly conducive to the "mutual recognition and respect" between Islam and the West that is the stated goal of the Ground Zero mosque plan.
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