But he's not the moderate he would have us believe. Madeline Brooks reveals that he's a "911 denier": that is, doesn't believe that the planes were flown by Muslims, and he blames America for the "tragedy". More, he has "numerous ties to CAIR, an unindicted co-conspirator in the Department of Justice funding case brought against Hamas, an openly terrorist organization".
Meanwhile, we learn something about the still-to-be-built memorial at the "ground zero" for Flight 93 (click image above left)
Rauf's claim that the mosque will help inter-faith understanding and so forth, is at best mere hope, at worst taqiyya. For there is no "moderate" Islam, and if the mosque goes ahead, what are the chances that those with a clearer and deeper understanding of Islam will control it? Then it will have to stop welcoming non-Muslims and running Rauf's naive or disingenuous Kumbaya version of Islam lite.
See Turkey Prime Minister on "moderate Islam", in my South Park post:
"These descriptions are very ugly; it is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate [sic] Islam. Islam is Islam and that's it." [Source:Link to following article here, at South China Morning Post, but needs subscription.
, August 21, 2007]. Milliyet, Turkey
Ground Zero mosque plan sparks backlash
Islamic centre will be open to all, says imam
An ambitious plan to build a mosque next to New York's Ground Zero is prompting hope - and anger - in a city scarred by terrorism.
There's little to see now at the site, an abandoned clothing store two blocks from the former World Trade Centre where nearly 3,000 people died on September 11, 2001.
But Feisal Abdul Rauf, a New York imam and a leader of the project, says the planned multistorey Islamic centre will transform both the drab lower Manhattan street and the way Americans have looked on Muslims since September 11.
Boasting a mosque with sports facilities, a theatre and possibly day care, the centre would be open to all visitors to demonstrate that Muslims are part of their community, not some separate element. "There's nothing like this that we know of in the United States," Rauf said. "This will be a community centre for everyone, not just for Muslims."
These are tense times for American Muslims, who find themselves increasingly painted both by the public and law enforcement bodies as a possible source of terrorism. A failed car bomb in New York's Times Square on May 1 was allegedly planted by a Pakistani-born American, prompting senior figures in Washington to recommend stripping basic rights from US passport holders suspected of Islamist militant links.
The centre is part of Rauf's programme, called the Cordoba Initiative* [see my note below], meant to build bridges between the West and the Muslim world. But because of the proposed mosque's location, just around the corner from the gaping Ground Zero hole, Rauf's call for peace is seen by some as a battle cry. "The outrage continues," says websitewww.nomosquesatgroundzero.wordpress.com under a close-up of the collapsing Twin Towers.
Accusing the Cordoba Initiative of trying to "sneak it through", the protest site says the centre will "cast a rude shadow over Ground Zero".
Others compare the idea to building a German cultural centre at Auschwitz. "Spitting in the Face of Everyone Murdered on 9/11," writesBlitz, a self-described "anti-jihadist newspaper".
That level of anger is not uncommon among New Yorkers who blame Islam, rather than just al-Qaeda or other militant groups, for September 11 and the global confrontation with the United States.
"This is the wrong neighbourhood to put the mosque in," Scott Rachelson, 59, said as he went to his office. Rachelson, who works with people seeking compensation over September 11-related issues, said his life changed forever the day two hijacked airliners smashed into Manhattan. "I was here. For me, and everyone else who was here, we have post-traumatic stress disorder," he said. "It feels like yesterday."
A woman living in the apartment building next to the proposed mosque said she couldn't accept the project. "I'd be lying if I said it didn't make me a little nervous," said Jennifer Wood, 36, as she took her young son for a walk. "It seems a little in the face, a little too much too soon. I don't know why it has to be here - this is a big city."
An eloquent and erudite man, Rauf sounds slightly weary when asked about hardcore opposition, but says he hopes the centre will become a catalyst for helping Muslims and the wider community to integrate. "It's about building an American Islamic identity, because we have second-, third-generation Muslims who don't feel they are part of [the country]," he said.
"The complaint throughout the years has been: `Where's the voice of the moderate Muslims?'" Rauf said. "Well, here we are." [PF comment: For a more revealing look at Rauf as a "moderate", see Madeline Brooks here]
Many look forward to the centre, which Rauf estimates will cost US$105 million to US$140 million to build, possibly financed with bonds.
Mohammed-Iqbal Hossain Chowdhury, a Bangladeshi immigrant running a newspaper kiosk across the street, called for an end to prejudice.
"The people who will come to pray here are working people. We are coming here to pray to God," the 42-year-old said, lifting his hands skyward with a huge smile.
"Ground Zero - that is about terrorists. Terrorism is a different thing. There are a billion or more Muslims around the world. They aren't all terrorists. I hope people will see us coming here and see that all of us come from one God."
Walking past the shuttered-up Burlington Coat Factory retail store to catch a train, local worker Angela Long, 60, said Muslims can be as American as anyone else.
"I don't believe that Islam equals terrorism. There are crazy people everywhere," she said.
And those arguing that a mosque has no right to exist near Ground Zero?
"They should read our constitution," she said. [PF comment: and she should read the Koran and the Hadith: which call on Muslims everywhere to overthrow the "rule of man" and the "rule of man's law", ie to overthrow the US constitution, to be ruled by Allay. The head of CAIR, Ibrahim Hooper, has himself said that he would like to see the Koran be the Constitution of the US. More: Islam is, of course, the source of virtually all terrorism in the world today and to equate it with "crazy people everywhere" is ignorance or willfull blindness]
+++++++++++++++++++++++*The Cordoba Initiative: is supposed to recall the so-called golden age of Muslim rule in Europe, in Southern Spain, in which the various faiths supposedly lived together in harmony. However, as numerous studies have shown, most carefully detailed by Andrew Bostom, it was more a case of the non Muslims being "tolerated" than of there being "tolerance". Christians and Jews had to pay the Jizya tax to the Muslim rulers, and had to wear badges to distinguish them from Muslims: the genesis in the case of the Jews, of the yellow star which Hitler's nazis made them wear.