New York Mosque Protest

Apparently this was said with a straight face at Sunday’s anti-mosque protest in New York:

“We’re not here today to condemn Muslims or Islam” said Pamela Geller, executive director of ‘Stop the Islamization of America’, “but we are here today to condemn the kind of mosque that will teach the very same radical ideology that gave birth to the 9/11 attacks…”

As has been widely reported, Geller was speaking at a protest against plans to build a mosque and Muslim community centre a couple of blocks away from the site of World Trade Center. A few days before, Geller had thundered that

“The only Muslim center that should be built in the shadow of the World Trade Center is one that is devoted to expunging the Quran and all Islamic teachings of the violent jihad that they prescribe, as well as all hateful texts and incitement to violence”

Of course, this isn’t a statement made in good faith: a Muslim center with an “expunged” Quran makes about as much sense as a church with the anti-Jewish parts of the New Testament expunged or a synagogue with the more sanguinary passages of the Torah expunged – ancient religious texts may be re-interpreted or contextualised in ways that make them more amenable to the modern world, but they are seldom repudiated by adherents.

Some background to the Cordoba House Muslim centre project was provided by the WSJ‘s Metropolis blog in May:

The project is driven in part by the needs of a growing Muslim population in Lower Manhattan. The nearest existing Islamic prayer space, the Tribeca Mosque, has been holding three evening prayer services on Fridays to keep up with demand.

“New immigrants coming to the area — you see a lot of people coming to Canal Street, a lot of street vendors and laborers,” says Daisy Kahn, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement. “But also a lot of people in the financial community coming to prayers as well.”

When Kahn’s organization found a vacant property on Park Place, the former site of a Burlington Coat Factory that had been damaged by airplane debris on September 11, 2001, the potent symbolism of the site also became a compelling rationale for the project. “We decided we wanted to look at the legacy of 9/11 and do something positive,” she explained in an interview. Her group represents moderate Muslims who want “to reverse to trend of extremism and the kind of ideology that the extremists are spreading.”

For Geller and her Stop Islamization of America organization (currently on a roll following the “Leaving Islam?” bus-ad controversy), this is all a ruse – the purpose of the mosque is to gloat over the site of the World Trade Center and to establish Muslim supremacy over America; as reported by the London Times:

“What could be more insulting and humiliating than a monster mosque in the shadow of the World Trade Centre buildings that were brought down by an Islamic jihad attack?” said Pamela Geller, the group’s director. “Any decent American, Muslim or otherwise, wouldn’t dream of such an insult. It’s a stab in the eye of America.”

Ms Geller’s group said that Islam had a history of building mosques on top of the holy places of other religions as a symbol of Muslim dominance. It cited al-Aqsa Mosque on top of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Ayasofya Mosque in the former Hagia Sophia basilica in Istanbul, and the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus atop what was once the Church of St John the Baptist.

The Times refered to an “anti-Muslim backlash”, which Geller objected to as a “lie” (Geller’s ally Robert Spencer does occasionally refer positively to “Muslims of conscience”, but how exactly they are to be defined is unclear).

Khan’s quote – slightly re-edited – has also been turned against her in a press release:

Daisy Khan has trivialized and insulted the memories of the victims of the 9/11 jihad attacks by saying that the mosque is intended to “make something positive out of 9/11.”

We’re also told that

…Ground Zero mosque Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is an open proponent of Sharia, Islamic law, a system that denies the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and the equality of rights of all people before the law.

Abdul Rauf has said that “an Islamic state can be established in more then just a single form or mold. It can be established through a kingdom or a democracy. The important issue is to establish the general fundamentals of Shariah that are required to govern.” Thus it is clear that this mosque will teach Sharia, Islamic supremacism, and the denial of basic rights.

Abdul Rauf and other mosque organizers have been inconsistent and deceptive about whether their planned Islamic Center at Ground Zero will contain a mosque; ultimately they have admitted that it will. Belying his claim that this mosque will become a place for interreligious harmony, he has told the Arabic press: “I don’t believe in religious dialogue.”

This information was provided by Walid Shoebat (who was not at the protest himself);  it seems he’s realised that he needs to come up with some new material if he’s going to keep his profile up. However, even Shoebat’s article puts the “religious dialogue” comment into some context; in his translation, it refers to:

Religious dialogue as customarily understood is a set of events with discussions in large hotels that result in nothing.

From the Google translation of Shoebat’s source, it appears that Rauf goes on to praise American diversity and to criticise Egypt. But whether Rauf is secretly an extremist is hardly the main point – it is clear that SIOA objects to any mosque in principle.

The protest itself brought together the usual “anti-jihad” activists, along with a few 9/11 rescue workers and bereaved family members – Geller has posted a number of speeches. The event also gave a politician named Jay Townsend an opportunity to grandstand, and there was an attack on Obama from a certain Bev Carlson, who insisted that America is a “Christian nation”.

The size of the rally has been disputed; a journalist named Mike Kelly puts the figure at 500, Geller herself has declared there were 8,000, while WorldNetDaily rounds the number up to 10,000. Sentiments expressed on some of the protest signs made further mockery of Geller’s claim that “we are not here today to condemn Muslims or Islam”, and Kelly notes one telling incident:

At one point, a portion of the crowd menacingly surrounded two Egyptian men who were speaking Arabic and were thought to be Muslims.

“Go home,” several shouted from the crowd.

“Get out,” others shouted.

In fact, the two men – Joseph Nassralla and Karam El Masry — were not Muslims at all. They turned out to be Egyptian Coptic Christians who work for a California-based Christian satellite TV station called “The Way.” Both said they had come to protest the mosque.

“I’m a Christian,” Nassralla shouted to the crowd, his eyes bulging and beads of sweat rolling down his face.

But it was no use. The protesters had become so angry at what they thought were Muslims that New York City police officers had to rush in and pull Nassralla and El Masry to safety.

“I flew nine hours in an airplane to come here,” a frustrated Nassralla said afterward.

[UPDATE: More on this incident here]

Ahead of the protest, there were various objections, ranging from some Muslim criticisms of the project through to the most vitriolic spewing. As was widely reported, a Texas radio host named Michael Berry expressed the hope that the mosque would be bombed, and his excess was matched by the Tea Party leader Mark Williams, who denounced the Manhattan Borough President, Scott Stringer, as “a Jewish Uncle Tom who would have turned rat on Anne Frank” because he supports the project. Across the Atlantic, atheist comedian Pat Condell fired off another of his hectoring (and curiously joke-free) rants, insisting (I paraphrase) that the mosque was obviously being built to celebrate 9/11 and as part of a strategy to take over the USA, that Islam ought to be suppressed as a political ideology akin to Nazism, and that anyone who can’t see this is a fool (Condell objects to religion in general as being authoritarian and supported by people who are self-righteous).

The Forward carried a thoughtful editorial on the subject a few weeks ago. While backing the project, it notes that

Some families of those who perished on September 11, 2001, have displayed great courage by supporting the proposal to create a 13-story hub for Muslim religious and cultural life, two blocks north of where the twin towers stood. But other families have not and — unlike some of the bigots who oppose the project for unjustifiable reasons — their qualms and resistance need to be respected.

But with so much overheated rhetoric on the subject, it is difficult to see how the project organisers could make any revisions to their plans without opponents trumpeting alterations as climb-downs that supposedly prove extremist intent.

Meanwhile, Geller’s motives have been derided by her equally-unpleasant rival “anti-jihadist” Debbie Schlussel; she dismisses the protest as “a cleverly designed PR vehicle”, and claims that Geller is expressing

…faux-outrage in a “battle” that we already know won’t be won.  It’s already lost.  They have the property.  Move on to something we can win, not a… attention-whore trick, just weeks before her book is about to be released and needs to earn back a bloated advance.  If you think it’s anything other than this, you are a malleable tool, easily manipulated and not of much substance.

Schlussel, who has been in a feud with Geller for some time, also makes reference to the p0lice investigation into Geller’s ex-husband’s business affairs (I noted Geller’s book – which has a Foreword by John Bolton – here).

(Some links H/T Loonwatch)

UPDATE: Ed Brayton has some fun with one detail:

Geller added, “There is a large piece of an airplane in that building. That is a war memorial”… That’s funny, there were pieces of airplane and debris in pretty much every building for many blocks in every direction after 9/11. And yet the only one she demands be made into a museum is the one owned by Muslims.

38 Responses

  1. If there was reciprocity and Christians were allowed
    to build churches in Muslim countries then it would not
    be such an issue. In many Muslim countries it would be impossible to build a Christian church . Churches
    and Christians are being attacked in many Muslim countries – so where is the equality and diversity.

    • So should the US say, “we have a better way than you”, or “we can be just as bad as you”? WWJD?

      • Jesus would turn the other cheek. Jesus would not want people to be sick to their stomachs. Jesus would walk away. Jesus said, ‘love one another.’ Time for the Muslims to behave as Jesus would.

    • This is really a nonsense argument, its completely stupid to justify bigotry by pointing out that other countries have bigotry.

    • seems like you haven’t traveled much… there are christian churches in every muslim country save 2 saudi and yemen… in the vast majority of muclim nations there are many churches and an indigenous christian population… you have to do more than READ THE NEWS to be informed… take a trip and see for yourself rather than talking out the side of your neck

      • If the mosque is built and the next brain-dead 72-virgin-loving jihadi terrorist who attacks ny would have ‘prayed’ at this mosque or would have been influenced by some lunatic ‘cleric’ who ‘preached’ there, i wonder how many in this so called ‘moderate muslim majority’ will even utter a word against it. But when it comes to building a mosque in the vicinity of ground zero, they are quick to play the victim card and have no qualms about poking a finger into everyone else’s eye. Islam is not just a religion; it is an ideology that controls everything including faith/culture/society/politics … And unfortunately over the past cpl generations(if not more) it has turned into something vicious. And there is enough blame to go around for this status quo. Unless a MUCH more moderate version of Islam evolves, there will NEVER be peaceful coexistence; regardless of whether this mosque is built or not. Continue to be politically correct, and what is happening in europe, britain … will happen here some day.

  2. I also agreed with your thought. there is no equality and diversity.

  3. Lovely whatabouterists. I thought America belonged to all, when did Christianity made a claim to America?

    • So do only Muslim countries not belong to all ?
      The founding fathers of America were Christians.

      • and your point? that doesn’t mean they intended it to be a christian country, they actually founded it on the basis of freedom of religions after not being able to practice their own brand of christianity on their original soil… freedom of religion does not denote freedom to terrorize but it goes for EVERYONE which includes radical christians, jews, hindus and muslims… AMERICA FOR EVERYONE!!!

  4. […] to protest the proposed building of a mosque on the World Trade Center site.  Richard Bartholomew gives us a run-down of the event and surrounding commentary at his side, Bartholomew’s Notes.  He quotes Pamela […]

  5. […] Luther Blissett on The English Defence League and the London Pro-Israel RallyGeorge on New York Mosque Protestcharles allan on New York Mosque ProtestLuther Blissett on The English Defence League and the […]

  6. Strange that the abuse Copts endure in Egypt merits nary a mention here.

    The Copts in question have already responded to these charges and it changes absolutely nothing in their opposition to the Ground Zero Mosque.

    This blogger ought to be ashamed at making hay on the backs of a religious minority who are treated as third class citizens in their own country.

    I thought America belonged to all, when did Christianity made a claim to America?

    It’s a well known fact that The Pilgims were Buddhists.

    Yes, we should share America with the adherents to an authoritarian, intolerant, clerical-fascist ideology that mistreats women, kills queers and which vilifies Jews, Christians, Hindus and MANY others

    And we should do so…seeings our leftists ‘betters’ insist on it…without asking for anything in return.

    What sheer genius when it comes to dystopic, social engineering!

    And you know, Geert Wilder’s impressive election results are nothing less that the fruit of bigotry and racism, because that tired, dog-eared script the 60s coined, which leftists STILL use, and which is SOLELY responsable for his 24 seat victory, says so!

    As the old hippies watch, the revolution approaches; it’s just that it’s not the one they expected.

    People are utterly fed-up.

    Giddy-up go, hippie, and pop yer clogs.

    • The pilgrims were Buddhists ????????????????? who said this – someone on extra terrestial LSD ?????

  7. […] in New York City recently. The blog Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion has a good summary: New York Mosque Protest by Richard Bartholemew, June 9, […]

  8. […] Notes on Religion, “New York Mosque Protest“: A blog post quoting proponents and detractors of the Cordoba House that sets the tone of […]

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  10. […] Columnist over “Anti-Muslim” Label « Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion on New York Mosque ProtestPhilip Nolan on Patrick Mercer “Exposes” Taliban HIV-Needle Tactic: “Got the […]

  11. Since the Muslims think their Islamic countries are so good I could never understand why they rush to leave the countries of their birth and come to live in countries like America and Europe which they say they hate. Why not just stay in their own countries with their Muslim culture and mosques. They will then have everything they say they need.

    • since when did you hear of any muslims who came to live here saying their countries were so good? i know many who left their countries because they were not free to practice their religion, or not practice, as they saw fit… turns out america is no better… many leave the USA to check out other countries and, until recently, it was better and easier to practice islam in the USA because it was without prejudice or tribal issues… but that was until christians decided that the USA only belongs to them

      • Must have been those planes going into the buildings and people choosing to jump instead of burning to death. It might have been the Eygytian Air plane that went into the Atlantic, may have been the Fort massacre, the beheading of a woman because she wanted a divorce, honor killings in America, Lockerbie bombing in which American college kids fell out of the sky, ETC ETC, I could on ad infinitum, because as I write there is more going on. Why have the moderate Muslims not gone out of their way to make us feel more comfortablez? There lies the answer and this mosque is making 70 % of Americans uncomfortable, so of course the muslims move forward.

  12. Shai – The Christian populations in most Muslim countries are tiny. The Coptics in Egypt were always
    oppressed as are the Christians in Pakistan and Iraq.
    The Christians were safer under Saddam .
    I would be surprised if it was hard to practice your faith
    in America.

  13. Shai – you must realise it is difficult to practice or preach the Christian faith in most muslim countries.
    Yet muslims are free tp practice in Europe and America – it is mainly one way traffic.

  14. See what a most respected Islamic scholar says:

    “Islam wishes to destroy all states and governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and program of Islam regardless of the country or the nation which rules it. The purpose of Islam is to set up a State on the basis of its own ideology and program.” — Syed Abul A’ala Maududi

  15. […] Abusive Attack SitePro-Ukpabio Attack Website CreatedAlexander Meleagrou-Hitchens vs SpinwatchNew York Mosque ProtestPro-Ukpabio Abusers Turn […]

  16. […] wonders what those who have put so much energy into trying to persuade us that the proposed Islamic Centre should be banned as a place of hate […]

  17. @Thiagan: “Respected”? Maududi was condemned repeatedly by colleagues in his time as a heretic. Fatwahs were issued against Maududi at least twice in his lifetime: 1951 and 1976. The only people who respected him were the small cults derived from the Moslem Brotherhood, like bin Laden’s death cult.

    You prove your ignorance by relying upon him as an excuse for your bigotry.

  18. Why don’t those who want a taste of Islam not go on
    holiday to Afganistan for a month – don’t book a return flight.
    Or go to Saudi Arabia and preach Jesus on the streets – again don’t book a return flight.

  19. If the real reason for the center was to bring people together, THEY FAILED! and should compromise with the families of the 9/11 disaster but their NOT! because of this I firmly believe their motives are less than honorable. I also condemn any act that might be perceived as a victory to radical islam and provides recruiting propaganda. Also If they win here, what will stop them from imposing sharia law using the same argument? There is much more going on here than a cultural center. You know it ,I know it. Question is can we stop It? How do you stop an invisible enemy who can only be identified by his beliefs? is radical islam already here?

  20. Ray – I agree there is much more going on here .
    Christians have the duty to spread Christianity worldwide- Muslims have a duty to dominate the world
    with Islam.

    Is Jesus the Son of God who can give life eternal or
    is Mohammed. WHAT DO YOU THINK – who was crucified Jesus or Mohammed. Who can pay for our sins.
    So the Muslims are just doing their duty – using every
    power at their hand to advance their cause.
    But how can Mohammed pay for our sins – he just led
    a normal life – not the life of sorrow and sacrifice or crucifixion of Jesus.


  21. The spirit of the Constitution is based soley on Judeo-Christian values embedded in the hearts and minds of the founders of this country, whether intentional or not.

    We cannot forget that, though this country allows religious freedom, the system will fall if we allow a religion to propogate that disallows it–namely Islam.

    We also cannot forget that the people who came here did so in an attempt to escape religious suppression.

    Even so, the land of this country cries out with the blood of innumerable natives who were utterly wiped away in order to build this country, on top of innumerable other peoples who were oppressed, ensalved and slaughtered using the same ideology.

    The situation is complex.

    However, the spirit of Christianity is that of Christ. Is Christ and His Kingdom of this world?–No. Is the United States?–Yes.

    Let’s remember that as Christians it is our fate to be persecuted and hated and killed, just as Christ was. The more we fight this reality, the further away from Christ we become when we run away from his testimony. It isn’t our place to deny the peoples of this world the right to do as they please; we can make the truth known to them through the Gospel and example of Christ, but we ultimately can’t stop them from choosing to go in the opposite direction.

    These protests come in lieu of the fear of the inescapable future this country (and ultimately this world) will fall into, on both the conscious and subconscious levels. Will the protests stop the mosque from being built?–Only time will tell. Will these tactics stop what we all know is coming?–Absolutely not.

    Let them exercise their freedom this country grants them. And then use that same freedom to civilly discuss the issues at hand with them. Our animal insticts drive the mob mentality going on, but such actions will accomplish nothing when dealing with this situation. If you put two wolves in a cage they will fight to the death,

    Let’s be thankful that we still have the chance to preach and teach our ideals. We allow those who have yet to see the light the opportunity to see it through these freedoms. We’d be no different than those Islamic countries that supress this right if we didn’t let them build their mosque.

    If we want to make the U.S. a Christian country, we have to acknowledge that the fight is God’s, not ours. Any violence, or war is reserved for Him alone and his terrible day. He gave us His Word as our weapon. Let’s use that–not hate and intolerance.

    This type of behavior only fuels the Islamic cause.

  22. Of all the muslim states across Arab lands and those in Asia like Indonesia or Malaysia, which one is willing to to accommodate the erection of church or synagogue in their capital cities? To this very day Saudi Arabia remains one place that churches and synagogues are not allowed to be built. Is it double standard or what that the same religion that prevents others to thrive in certain places, will seek to build a mosque or whatever it is called in another person’s backyard. This all exposes the porous situation of the United States and its dependence on Saudi Arabia’s oil.

    It is not as if Americans are Godly according to the tenets of Jewish/Christian principles far from it but the fact that this Cordoba center is a reminder of the goal of muslims to spread Islam by all every means including killing non muslims who are considered infidels, calls for free societies to reject such a project since it does not really represent inclusiveness but rather a stepping stone to a more bloody future for residents of the United States. It is also important that the people of the United States be mindful of the fact that when you give a muslim an inch, he demands a foot and then demands the entire space from you. This is part of the religion and is nothing new.

    Take for example the dispute between Arabs and the
    State of Israel as well as the killings going on in Nigeria all acts of terror being carried out in the name of religion not tribe or race. Let muslims subject the Koran to comprehensive review and delete all the violent portions contained in Koran if they really want us to believe that they are serious about eschewing violence and bloodletting as is presently the case.

    The free world must rise up and stand together against those fanatics who would rather kill others who are holding differing religious views. May be they should just move this project to a more Islamic territory like Afghanistan or better still Yemen.

    • To tell Muslims to change their religious texts and traditions is doing exactly what they want Christians (and albeit all non-muslims) to do–it is a replica of their own behavior.

      The Bible clearly has Jesus claiming to be God, the Son of God, and the sacrifice for mankind’s sins through his crucifixion and resurrection, yet Muslims will argue til kingdom come with you telling you that those are innovations to the text, later additions, or that Christians are simply misinterpreting the texts. This is of course a load of baloney that can’t be critically backed up, but it’s what they have to believe in order to maintain the ideological position of their faith.

      It’s like trying to put out a fire with fire. It just won’t work (at least not with your run-of-the-mill, Koran thumper Muslim). Even during the time of Islam’s infancy there was protest to Muhammad’s ideas, yet he combated the opposition with violence or suppression, because there’s not much else you can do when you’re an illiterate person with a limited skill set trying to substantiate falsehood.

      Standing up for what you believe to be right is one thing, but a wound such as this needs more than standing on corners or media propoganda to heal. It has the potential to be effective, but the way that the people who are opposed to the idea are conducting themselves will only go so far.

      The reason why Muslims ‘get an inch and then demand a foot’, as you say, is because the vast majority of them are passionate about their faith and the traditions that come with it.

      The same can be said about patriotic Americans who hold the view that ground zero is hallowed and sacred and shouldn’t be defaced by an Islamic building.

      To the passionate Muslim, you are taking the same political position they are, just on the opposite end of the spectrum.

      We must handle these issues with a LOVING care, or that bloody future may come sooner than one may think.

      But then again, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it would be a huge mistake and I’m being naive and there is no real hope in compassionately reaching out to people who want this thing erected. If so, then that ‘bloody future’ may be a tad near inevitable for us.

  23. […] his own taken from Rauf’s statements in Arabic. His first attempt at this was in June, and he appeared on Fox in mid-August, warning that Rauf’s …support of Hamas, […]

  24. […] plans to convert a building into a mosque a few blocks from Ground Zero and the controversy that followed. The programme’s blurb outlines the familiar story: The film follows charismatic property […]

  25. […] … to protest the proposed building of a mosque on the World Trade Center site. …     The only Muslim center that should be built in the shadow of the World Trade Center is one […]

  26. […] is also also unclear. In June 2010 Zokloma spoke at Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer’s rally against the supposed “Ground Zero Mosque”.  He was in the news on another matter in […]

  27. […] Naturally, Geller seeks to portray the venue’s decision to cancel as an attack on her free speech, even though the synagogue does not cite any evidence of threats – and Geller is hardly in a position to complain about “minions”, given her own history of rabble-rousing protests. […]

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