Islam News

The not-so-great Islamist menace,

January 10th 2011
Terrorist plots against Europe are on the decline, statistics show, and the majority are not coming from Muslims If someone mentioned terrorism in Europe, you would probably have an idea about the size of the threat and who's responsible. It's big, you [...]
Iraq's Christian community hit by new wave of attacks
11/11/2010 - Suspected Islamist militants detonated 11 bombs in Christian suburbs across the Iraqi capital, striking indiscriminately at shops and homes owned [...]
Why Park51 is much more than the "mosque at Ground Zero"
08/11/2010 - It's easier to say what the "mosque at Ground Zero" is not, than what it is. It's not a mosque, [...]
Arab Media: Tea Party Is Anti-Islam
03/11/2010 - Narrative: The Tea Party is racist, extremist and anti-Islam, but part of a wider conservative resurgence in US politics Coverage: For [...]
Anti-Muslim crusaders make millions spreading fear
25/10/2010 - Steven Emerson has 3,390,000 reasons to fear Muslims. That's how many dollars Emerson's for-profit company — Washington-based SAE Productions — collected [...]

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This Topic's AUTHORS
TAREK BARAKAT | Blogger and commentator
I am an Atheist. I believe that all religions, no matter how much truth they hold, are man made. Therefore the questions at hand are difficult for me to answer based on personal principals. Since Agnostics/Atheists want to see less religion and places of worship everywhere. That said I am a firm believer that just as one must not be coerced into a certain religion they shouldn't be coerced out of it either.
NASSER RABBAT | Director Islamic Architecture at MIT
The real problem is the willingness of (some of) the people of America and other Western democracies to forgo the fundamental rights enshrined in their constitution, and underlying their sense of themselves as belonging to a free nation made up of free citizens, when it comes to allowing fellow citizens, no matter how recently naturalized they are, to practice these same rights. What the members of the Cordoba Project are denied in the recent polls showing that 70% of all New Yorkers oppose the project is not simply the right to practice their religion, it is actually the right to enjoy their rights as citizens according to the First Amendment.
JOSEPH HELOU | Research Assistant / Carnegie MEC
By focusing on disentangling the U.S. from the "clash of civilizations", the current administration continues to emphasize the religious component of the tense West-East relations. But ironically, the U.S., and other Western allies, coordinate Middle Eastern interests with States which they call "moderate", such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but which actually score very low on human rights and freedom indexes. Regarding religious tolerance, the former systematically obstructs the issuance of permits for restoring churches, let alone the construction of new ones, while the latter regards the debate over building none-Islamic edifices a taboo.
GHASSAN KARAM | Professor Economics
We all know of many severe challenges that the US system is constantly struggling with such as the relatively major income inequality, the presidential electoral system, the role of money in all elections and the corporate influence in shaping the legislative process. It is clear that given such challenges the resulting democracy is nowhere close to perfect but yet it can be argued that in many areas such as the principles of separation of church and government in addition to the tremendous seriousness given to the issue of the first freedom make it very difficult , even impossible, to violate the principle of freedom of religion as spelled out in the first amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
MONA ELTAHAWY | Journalist and public speaker
Park51 should continue because it’s more an issue to American Muslims " over here, in the U.S. " than it is about the Muslim world, radicals or not. Yes, the ability of the U.S. to lecture anyone on religious freedom would be seriously compromised but for an imam to play the card of the "radicals in the Muslim world who would threaten our national security" is dancing on the stereotype of Muslims as crazies who need little reason to go berserk. That was essentially the reason which a number of U.S. officials from the president himself to General Petraeus in Afghanistan used as they lined up to plead with Pastor Jones in Gainesville to cancel his threat to burn the Quran. Instead of emphasizing that burning books would put him on the same ignoble path as Nazis and the mobs which burned Salman Rushdie's "Satanic Verses", the message was "Don’t drive the crazy Muslims even crazier!"
MARC GOPIN | Director, CRDC George Mason Uinversity
Rationality is something we aspire to and we occasionally reach, but it's not something that anybody lives by day and night. We're all non-rational, we're all driven by symbols, we just have different symbols. What looks like interfaith conflict, not only today but throughout history, is often really other conflicts, political conflicts. Wedge issues between power groups, ethnic conflicts go back thousands of years. The Crusades look like they were a religious conflict, but the Crusaders killed Christians just as much as they killed Muslims. Often politics masquerades as religion
ELIE ELHADJ | Ph.D., Author/ Banker
while reciprocity is a valid concept, it is practically impossible to be agreed internationally. Religions have cross border followings. Which city in the Muslim world should reciprocate the construction, for example, of a Ground Zero Mosque? Should it be Mecca, Damascus, Qom, or Karachi? Would the construction of a mosque in a less sensitive American location mean the construction of a church in a less important Muslim city? How and who would rank the "religious index" of world’s cities?
AYMAN HAKKI | Prof. Plastic Surgery Georgetown U.
The Imam-who's behind this mess-was handpicked by the Bush administration to head an interfaith group. I suspect he'd done everything-to the point of obsequiousness-to say and do what they wanted. Now this same guy is being labeled; a Jihadi radical and a caller for Sharia in America by right wingers and their talking heads. People…George W. Bush, not Barak Husain Obama, picked him!
HIND KABAWAT | Conflict Resolution specialist
To me there would be no greater way to honour Jesus Christ, a man who preached love and forgiveness on Calvary, the very ground on which he was murdered by his tormentor, than to build a place to glorify God near the place where the most monstrous evil was committed in his name. What better way to rebuke the misguided souls who acted mistakenly in his name than to build a holy place near Ground Zero. It is an initiative which, I believe, Jesus, himself, would endorse.
Many people in the American Muslim community would hold that no one should ask for permission in exercising such a well-established American right or care what their fellow citizens think about the exercise of such basic rights. This is a profoundly mistaken attitude. The mark of a healthy, well-adjusted community is not a decontextualized defiant assertion of rights, but is instead a balancing of rights with social responsibilities includes a due regard for the sensitivities of fellow citizens.
NABIL BEITINJANEH | International Consultant
In the 18th century, the town of Sur (Tyre in Lebanon) did not have a single Christian living in it. Jirjis Mishaqa (a Greek Catholic businessman) was persuaded by its two ruling Mutawali sheikhs to move to the area with his family. When the Christians there had grown in numbers, work was begun on the church of St. Thomas the Apostle. Noting that there was no mosque for the local Shi'ite Muslim community, Jirjis Mishaqa thought it would be a good thing to build a mosque for the Muslims with his own funds. It was begun simultaneously with the building of the church. When he was called in by the Vizier of Sayda he said: "I see Muslims coming to Sur, merchants, transients and wandering dervishes, for whom there is no place of shelter or gathering for prayer. Indeed the lack of a mosque in the city is a matter that attracts criticism of its inhabitants abroad. The Creator does not permit such negligence"
WASSIM AL-ADEL | Blogger and commentator
We know now that the end of the Cold War did not bring about the end of history and the last man but rather, some would say, it brought about the end of the Western man's dominance. In fact it is not the words of Francis Fukuyama that we should be paying attention to but those of Sayid Qutub an Islamic thinker executed by Egypt's Nasser in the sixties. Qutub prophetically and confidently asserts, at the start of his "Islamic" manifesto, that the age of the dominance of Western man is ending, that Western civilization, with all its material benefits, has not been able to offer the moral leadership necessary for mankind. Enter the vanguard of Islamic revivalism, who will assume this leadership for all mankind. If the last century witnessed the battle for humanity's economic destiny, the present century will see a decision made for its spiritual one. What the mob opposed to the so-called "Ground Zero" mosque fear most is that Dr Fukuyama's "Last Man" at the end of history will be a Muslim.
JIHAD BITAR | Ph.D., Urban Design
History is meant to be understood, and not only to be read. We have a great example in our history of how in the middle of cultural clashes a new beauty comes to life and enriches our art and architectural landscape forever; I’m referring to Spain and specifically, Alhambra, Granada, where a unique new dematerialized architecture, an architecture of illusion and insubstantiality was born that made a strong contrast to the simple unornamented abstract architecture and puritanical white wash of the Muslim north African architecture as well as the opposite to the Gothic architecture of the Christian Europe forever.
SADIK AL-AZM | Philisopher / Author Princeton University
In any case the organizers and financial backers of the project have already made so many concessions to the opposition as to render the whole idea pointless. For example, they agreed to change the name of the Center from the tell tale "Cordova House" to the utterly bland street address of "Park 51". They denied that they are building a mosque in the first place. And they reassured everyone concerned that no casual passer-by would not recognize the Center for what it is from its outside appearance. In other words, no minarets and no revealing Islamic architectural or decorative features. Given these demeaning and humiliating concession, it would be more dignified to relocate the Center to a spot where there will be no need to conceal its identity in such a ridiculous manner.
TAUFIC RAHIM | Political Analyst / Blogger
As much as the Park51 will conduct outreach to the wider American community, it is also intended to promote a new type of discourse in the wider Muslim world, or umma. Firstly, this message is one of esotericism. Beyond the esotericism, the Imam also is fairly 'liberal' to use the term loosely. The current battle on building Park51 is an important one that has many far-reaching consequences. Yet, even after the Imam likely wins this battle, he will only be at the beginning of the war of ideas within the Muslim world, where his voice will face resistance from entrenched figures rooted in more traditional scholarship. When that time comes, most likely, the current 'opposition' to him, will be squarely on his side.