|Costly move: Barack Obama has spoken in favour of the right to build a mosque close to Ground Zero|
The uncomfortable truths about Islam taint anyone who tries to protect it.
I think Obama has been convinced that the issue of Islam in America is different from that in Europe. The path he trods has been tried ~ and failed.
Perhaps he should look at his team of advisors ~ no good if they only tell you what you want to here or worst if they are afraid to tell you the truth!
Nine years after 9/11, the site of the Twin Towers is still an open sore on the face of New York — a festering reminder of the terror attack which claimed almost 3,000 lives.
To add insult to injury, in the eyes of the victims’ families and the majority of Americans, approval has just been granted for a mosque to be built two blocks away from Ground Zero.
What began as a local planning dispute could come to determine the fate of Barack Obama’s Presidency.
In favour: America’s liberal elite. Against: 70 per cent of the American people. With crucial mid-term elections looming in November, the President finds himself marooned on the wrong side of public opinion. It could cost him control of Congress and, in two years’ time, the White House itself. At an event to mark the Muslim festival of Ramadan, Obama backed the plans for a mosque and Islamic cultural centre 400 yards from Ground Zero, saying: ‘As a citizen and a President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practise their religion as anyone else in this country.
‘That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community centre on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.’
He also managed to ignite the Bible Belt and God-fearing, moderate Middle America by proclaiming that Islam was a major force in ‘advancing justice, progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings’ and had ‘always been part of America’.
In so doing, he displayed an ignorance of history which made David Cameron’s recent confusion over the timing of America’s entry into World War II look like a minor clerical error.
|Controversial: The proposed site of the cultural centre in New York, which will include a mosque|
Obama’s words would have come as a surprise not only to the Founding Fathers, who established the United States on concrete Christian principles, but also to those unfortunate women being stoned to death and subjugated in the more barbaric outposts of Islam.
The President’s inept intervention hosed fuel on the flames of a furore which has been smouldering for months. His attempts to backtrack 24 hours later only made him look weak and indecisive.
This all began when an Islamic group submitted plans to convert a former clothing factory. Despite local protests, City officials could see no lawful impediment to the mosque/cultural centre being built.
In that respect, Obama is absolutely right when he talks about ‘local laws and ordinances’. He is also perfectly justified in defending America’s constitutionally protected religious freedom.
But his reaction was characteristically legalistic, when it should have been empathetic. He concentrated on process, when he should have been focusing on politics and public reaction.
When I was in the U.S. a few weeks ago, it was obvious that this had the potential to explode on to the national stage. The radio talk shows buzzed with indignation. Sarah Palin, the pin-up of the populist Tea Party movement, was busily Twittering her opposition.
After Newt Gingrich, a potential Republican Presidential candidate in 2012, likened the mosque to planting a swastika at a Holocaust memorial, or a Japanese cultural centre at Pearl Harbour, it went nuclear.
Gingrich’s deliberately incendiary analogy hit its intended target. America’s liberal elite spasmed into overdrive, branding all opposition to the mosque as being motived by bigotry and religious hatred, in an attempt to shut down debate.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused campaigners of being part of Hillary Clinton’s imaginary ‘vast Right-wing conspiracy’.
It was as predictable as Britain’s self-styled ‘liberal’ establishment’s track record of smearing anyone who expresses doubts about unlimited immigration as a knuckle-dragging, BNP racist.
At a stroke, almost three-quarters of Americans were written off as ‘bigots’. Unlike Britain, though, America’s silent majority refuses to be cowed into submission.
Of course, the crazies have come crawling out of the woodwork. Obama has always attracted conspiracy theorists who think he is a Muslim ‘sleeper’; emphasise his middle name, Hussein; and refuse even to accept that he was born in the United States.
The more extreme opponents point out that the group behind the plan want to call the project ‘Cordoba House’ — in honour of the Spanish city where medieval Islamic invaders erected a mosque on the site of a razed Roman Catholic cathedral to mark their conquest of Christianity.
But just because batty Sarah Palin is against the mosque, it doesn’t automatically mean she’s wrong.
In their determination to display their ‘tolerance’ of other religions, the supporters of the mosque have paraded their own ingrained intolerance of anyone who disagrees with them.
By proclaiming their ‘sensitivity’ towards Islam they have demonstrated their utter insensitivity to the vast majority of Americans, primarily the 9/11 families.
The establishment’s fundamental mistake was trying to treat this application as a local matter, in the hope that no one would notice. Ground Zero doesn’t just belong to New York, it belongs to all America.
|Terror attack: Almost 3,000 people died on September 11, 2001, after Muslim hijackers flew two passenger planes into the centre's Twin Towers|
Blue-collar New Jersey and bluegrass Kentucky have just as big a stake in the future of this tragic site as the wealthy bien-pensant population of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, epitomised by New York’s billionaire Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Independent mayor Michael Bloomberg.
It is hallowed ground, a shrine as holy as any of the Muslim ‘holy cities’ which America’s mainstream media insist are routinely violated by U.S. troops.
The enthusiasm for this mosque is contrasted starkly with the conspicuous failure to rebuild the Twin Towers after nine years; refusal of planning permission for the rebuilding of a nearby Greek Orthodox church damaged in the attacks; and failure to implement a promise to meet the health care costs of rescue workers who sustained debilitating illnesses and injuries on 9/11.
In any debate about Islam, it is obligatory to emphasise that the vast majority of Muslims are peace-loving etc. No one is arguing with that proposition.
But it remains indisputable that 9/11 was an attack carried out by Muslims, in the name of an admittedly insane form of their faith.
What seems to be forgotten in this case, as so often when it comes to dealing with Islam, is that tolerance is a two-way street. This isn’t about freedom to worship. There are already 100 official mosques in New York’s five boroughs, and more than 1,800 across America.
So the question is: Why here? Why now? Why a stone’s throw from Ground Zero? There’s no Muslim population in this part of Manhattan. It’s a business district.
New York’s Governor David Paterson has offered the mosque’s backers an alternative site, away from Ground Zero, but has so far been rebuffed. It is difficult not to conclude that the location of this project is designed deliberately to be provocative.
While Pelosi and others have questioned the motives of the mosque’s opponents, there has been little investigation into its backers.
Most of the money is said to be coming from Saudi Arabia, which would never allow a Christian church to be built in Riyadh. That should, of course be irrelevant given America’s tradition of religious freedom — but somehow, in this context, it isn’t.
The imam at the centre is Faisal Abdul Rauf, a ‘moderate’ who has advised the FBI and the State Department. But like so many ‘moderates’ this imam speaks with forked tongue, rather like some of the dubious characters seconded by our own Home Office and Scotland Yard over the past few years.
Rauf has called America an ‘accessory to 9/11’ and says Osama bin Laden was ‘born in the USA’.
Barack Obama has nailed himself to the side of this mosque and is struggling to wriggle free. Worryingly for the President, two-thirds of voters who define themselves as ‘independents’ — and who swept him to victory in 2008 — are vehemently opposed to the plan.
At a time when 56 per cent of Americans disapprove of his handling of the economy, this is one distraction Obama doesn’t need and should have been bright enough to avoid.
His own party is split on the issue, with even Senate majority leader Harry Reid coming out against the mosque, as he tries to cling on to his own seat in November.
The President’s best hope is that Imam Rauf and his backers accept the offer of an alternative site. But the fall-out will linger.
One report claims the mosque is due to open on September 11, 2011 — the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks.
If that’s true, Obama can kiss the White House goodbye.