Last night on “The Daily Show,” Jon Stewart joined the chorus of those thinking the criticism of the 9/11 mosque project is driven by anti-Muslim bigotry. Like most issues, the 9/11 mosque project is complex, and to reduce it to a single theme is simplistic and deceiving.
Stewart took aim at Glenn Beck for saying that Imam Rauf’s statement that U.S. foreign policy mistakes contributed to 9/11, noting that Beck had said much the same, but leaves it there. There are multiple layers to why the project is a bad idea. But before we get to that, watch the segment after the jump:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
First of all, no one is contesting the right of Muslims to build mosques on private property. They are free to do so—and we are free to oppose it for whichever reason. Imam Rauf says that his center will serve to enhance interfaith relations and bring Muslims into society. This may have been his original intention, but at this point after seeing the uproar, he’s either a complete idiot or he has another motive. This project is and will do the exact opposite. It is causing the tension he claimed he sought to alleviate. In terms of interfaith relations, there are few things that can do worse.
Second, it is simply insensitive. Imagine if a German national moved across the street from a synagogue and set up a German flag outside less than ten years after 1945. Not all Germans were Nazis (the German may have even been opposed to Nazism) and that is a right of the individual German—but it is still insensitive and unnecessarily provocative. Furthermore, think of the message it sends to the radical Islamic world. A 13-story Islamic center near where the World Trade Center once stood can only be seen as a sign of victory and encouragement.
Third, and this is the most important point, is Imam Rauf’s connections. He refused to condemn Hamas and hasn’t expressed a desire to use his center to wage a theological counter-offensive against extremism. He is a member of the biggest donor to the Free Gaza Movement that organized the flotilla. His Web site has removed a photo of him meeting with high-level Iranian official Mohammad Javad Larijani and he’s advised President Obama to express support of Iran’s Vilayet-i-faqih system of government and essentially endorsed the 1979 revolution.
This project, for the sake of everyone including Muslims seeking to improve their image, needs to be canceled.