Muslim business leader: 'This has hand of the divine written over it'
A new Islamic mosque will open its doors just steps from Ground Zero where Muslim terrorists murdered 2,751 people in the name of Allah on Sept. 11, 2001 – and its leading imam, who conducts sensitivity training sessions for the FBI, has reportedly blamed Christians for starting mass attacks on civilians.
The five-story building at Park Place, just two blocks north of the former World Trade Center site, was the site of a Burlington Coat Factory. But a plane's landing-gear assembly crashed through the roof on the day 19 Muslim terrorists hijacked the airliners and flew them into the Twin Towers in 2001.
Now Muslim worshippers currently occupy the building, and they plan to turn it into a major Islamic cultural center.
"The men and women stand up, raise their hands on either side of their head, murmur 'Allahu akhbar,' bow and kneel again," reports Spiegel Online.
"Only in New York City is this possible," Daisy Khan, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, or ASMA, told the magazine. Khan is the wife of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, founder of ASMA.
They have leased the new prayer space as an overflow building for another mosque, Masjid al-Farah, at 245 West Broadway in TriBeCa, where Rauf is the spiritual leader.
The building – vacant since that fateful day when time stood still as millions of Americans grieved the loss of loved ones, friends, family members, co-workers and strangers – was purchased in July by real-estate company Soho Properties, a business run by Muslims. Rauf was an investor in that transaction.
Just down the street, the Museum of Jewish Heritage honors victims of the Holocaust, and St. Peter's Church, New York's oldest Catholic house of worship, is located around the corner.
Rauf has announced his plans to turn the building into a complete Islamic cultural center, with a mosque, a museum, "merchandising options," and room for seminars to reconcile religions, "to counteract the backlash against Muslims in general, " Speigel reports. The project may cost as much as $150 million.
Rauf told the New York Times purchasing the building "where a piece of the wreckage fell sends the opposite statement to what happened on 9/11."
"It was almost obvious that something like this had to arise from the ashes of 9/11," Khan told Spiegel. "In some way, this has the hand of the divine written over it. It's almost as if God wanted to be involved."
The move is supported by the city. The mayor's director of the Office of Immigrant Affairs, Fatima Shama, told the Times, "We as New York Muslims have as much of a commitment to rebuilding New York as anybody."
The city's Department of Buildings records show the building has been the focus of complaints for illegal construction and blocked exits in the last year. Recent entries from Sept. 28 and 29, 2009, indicate inspectors have been unable to access the building. One complaint states, "Inspector unable to gain access – 1st attempt – No access to 5 sty building. Front locked. No responsible party present." The second, just a day later, states, "Inspector unable to gain access – 2nd attempt – no access to building. No activity or responsible party. Building remains inaccessible at Park Place."
Agency spokeswoman Carly Sullivan told the Times the complaints were listed as "resolved" under city procedures since the inspectors were unable to gain access.
Imam Rauf, born in Egypt, has written three books: "What's Right with Islam: A New Vision for Muslims and the West," "Islam: A Sacred Law" and "Islam: A Search for Meaning."
WND reported in 2003 when, at least four times that year, the FBI's New York field office held all-day sensitivity training sessions, not far from Ground Zero, featuring Rauf.
Speaking for about two hours each session, "he gave an overview of Islamic culture and some of the differences between what fundamentalist terrorist groups say are the teachings of the Quran and what he believes, as a student of religion, the Quran actually says," said special agent James Margolin, spokesman for the FBI New York office.
Rauf asserted that the Quran "certainly doesn't counsel terrorism, murder or mayhem," Margolin said. And he said terrorists have misinterpreted the Quranic term "jihad" to mean violent, or armed, struggle against nonbelievers. Rauf claims it means internal struggle.
Rauf was invited to speak in Sydney, Australia, by Premier Bob Carr in 2004. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, he said the U.S. and the West must acknowledge the harm they've done to Muslims before terrorism can end.
He said the West must understand the terrorists' point of view – and he blamed Christians for starting mass attacks on civilians.
"The Islamic method of waging war is not to kill innocent civilians. But it was Christians in World War II who bombed civilians in Dresden and Hiroshima, neither of which were military targets," he said.
According to the report, Rauf said there would be little progress until the U.S. acknowledged backing dictators and the U.S. president gave an "America Culpa" speech to the Muslim world.
On June 4, 2009, President Obama gave a speech to the Muslim world from Cairo, in which he stated:
I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings. … So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn't. And I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.
Rauf praised Obama for "embracing Islam in the peacemaking process" in his speech to the Muslim world. He wrote in the Washington Post:
The historic significance of President Obama's speech to the Muslim world in Cairo cannot be overstated. Never before has an American president spoken to the global Muslim community. His speech marked a major shift in American foreign policy. … In just a few sentences he demolished the phony theory of the 'Clash of Civilizations,' which insists that Islam and the West must always be in conflict. Instead, he declared the United States is not at war with Islam and outlined a plan for how the conflict can be resolved. … He captured the attention of Muslims because, unlike most politicians, he was willing to critique both his own country and Muslims where they fell short of their ideals.
In an interview with Beliefnet on Islam and America, a reporter asked Rauf, "Some Islamic charities are being investigated for terrorist ties. Have you seen what you consider to be reputable Islamic charities being financially damaged?"
"We believe that a certain portion of every charity has been legitimate," he responded. "To say that you have connections with terrorism is a very gray area. It's like the accusation that Saddam Hussein had links to Osama bin Laden. Well, America had links to Osama bin Laden – does that mean that America is a terrorist country or has ties to terrorism?"
In 2004, Rauf participated in a 30-second advertisement, broadcast on Arabic television, in which he apologized for alleged abuses at Abu Ghraib prison.
The Times reported Rauf said he believes "Islamic terrorists do not come from another moral universe – that they arise from oppressive societies that he feels Washington had a hand in creating."
Readers of various blogs are outraged at the news of the mosque. Comments include the following:
Muslims are doing this only to see if they get away with it.
It's the way Islam spreads in every country these days, like a cancer – through incremental totalitarianism.
In this case, they'll quietly open the mosque, then, as they get away with it, they'll ramp up their outrages until someone finally points it out. At that time, their lawyers, backed by the ACLU and various liberal organizations, will pounce.
This is not different than allowing the Nazis to establish their headquarters and propaganda office in NYC in 1938. How come people could tell right from wrong then and not now?
What bonehead allowed this to happen?
That's disgusting. That truly is low. I feel bad for the people who lost family members.
This is outrageous. I just don't have word.
This is called "staging" for the KSM trial.
You've got to be kidding me. If this is true, our beloved country is already gone. We no longer have the America I know and love.
Who wants to bet this place becomes a "tourist attraction" for Muslims? This mosque will become one of Islam's holiest shrines as it sits upon the site of their greatest modern military victory.
Good idea. Maybe terrorists will be less likely to bomb this area if there's a mosque there.