August 11th, 2010
08:00 AM ET

U.S. to send imam in ground zero debate to Middle East

Some lawmakers have urged the State Department to rethink plans to sponsor the imam behind a controversial mosque on a trip to the Middle East.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is at the center of efforts to build a mosque near the site of the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York. He is going to the Middle East on a trip funded by the State Department.

Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Peter King (R-NY), the ranking members of the Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security committees, called the State Department's funding of Rauf's trip "unacceptable," and said American taxpayers should not have to subsidize his tour.

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- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Islam • Muslim • Politics

soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. FrankLW

    The US is financing a fund raising trip to the oil rich Arab regimes by the leader of the ground zero Muslim center. Words, at least publishable ones, are inadequate here...

    August 21, 2010 at 2:17 pm |
  2. Musa Abdullahi

    This realy would bring peace and harmony in America and the world in general. I have nothing to offer as a contribution, but i pray that Allah help them to build this masjeed successfully ameen

    August 14, 2010 at 3:08 am |
  3. SR

    To President Obama: Stop using our Tax dollars to build mosques!

    AMERICA is NO LONGER A SECULAR NATION if we sponsor one religion at the expense of other religions.

    U.S. underwrites fund raising tour for Islamic shrine at Ground Zero


    The Washington Times

    7:46 p.m., Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, executive director of the Cordoba Initiative, addresses a gathering as groups planning a proposed mosque and cultural center near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan to be named Cordoba House showed and spoke about their plans for the center at a community board meeting in New York Tuesday, May 25, 2010. Community members both for and against the plan spoke during the meeting. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

    The State Department is sending Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf – the mastermind of the Ground Zero Mosque – on a trip through the Middle East to foster "greater understanding" about Islam and Muslim communities in the United States. However, important questions are being raised about whether this is simply a taxpayer-funded fundraising jaunt to underwrite his reviled project, which is moving ahead in Lower Manhattan.

    Mr. Rauf is scheduled to go to Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Qatar, the usual stops for Gulf-based fundraising. The State Department defends the five-country tour saying that Mr. Rauf is "a distinguished Muslim cleric," but surely the government could find another such figure in the United States who is not seeking millions of dollars to fund a construction project that has so strongly divided America.

    Americans also may be surprised to learn that the United States has been an active participant in mosque construction projects overseas. In April, U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania Alfonso E. Lenhardt helped cut the ribbon at the 12th-century Kizimkazi Mosque, which was refurbished with assistance from the United States under a program to preserve culturally significant buildings. The U.S. government also helped save the Amr Ebn El Aas Mosque in Cairo, which dates back to 642. The mosque's namesake was the Muslim conqueror of Christian Egypt, who built the structure on the site where he had pitched his tent before doing battle with the country's Byzantine rulers. For those who think the Ground Zero Mosque is an example of "Muslim triumphalism" glorifying conquest, the Amr Ebn El Aas Mosque is an example of such a monument – and one paid for with U.S. taxpayer funds

    August 13, 2010 at 2:23 pm |
  4. Ami

    I think we should pay to send him there, then KEEP HIM THERE!

    August 13, 2010 at 10:02 am |
  5. coco

    Good thinking America!!! That being consistant with separation of church and state. Oops .. You are right this is not a "church and state" is a "Mosque and State".... but still religion... wrong interpretation

    August 11, 2010 at 2:27 pm |
  6. dwight huth

    This religious facility is no more than a cover for the conversion of American's into the doctrine of Iranian law where no one has any rights other than what the state tells them they have the rights to do and be. If America does not do something about this Invid situation then more of those here in America will fall under the laws of Shraiah which will slowly like the vines of a thorny yet pleasantly smelling creep will spread to America thus making America like the Middle East.

    August 11, 2010 at 2:07 pm |
  7. Reality

    The American Society for Muslim Advancement was founded by the topic's imam. His wife, Daisy Khan, now runs the show there. Apparently said non-profit did not file an IRS Form 990 which is odd and one wonders if said non-profit is breaking the law by not doing so. Typically, the founders and CEOs of these non-profits make over $200,000/yr so again it is fair to ask, why are taxpayers paying for this imam's travels?

    August 11, 2010 at 11:54 am |
  8. Reality

    As it happens, one man who has expressly said he seeks to "bring Shariah to America" is Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam currently promoting construction of a 13-story, $100 million mosque once dubbed "Cordoba House" in proximity to Ground Zero.

    August 11, 2010 at 11:21 am |
  9. Reality

    Added background on Imam FA Rauf:

    Some U.S. politicians have voiced concerns about his views

    In 2004, he said the U.S. and the West must acknowledge the harm they have done to Muslims before terrorism can end. Speaking at his New York mosque, Abdul Rauf said:

    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 also said that there could be little progress in Western-Islamic relations until the U.S. acknowledged backing Middle East dictators, and and the U.S. President gave an "American Culpa" speech to the Muslim world, because there are "an endless supply of angry young Muslim rebels prepared to die for their cause and there [is] no sign of the attacks ending unless there [is] a fundamental change in the world".[12]

    Columnist Jonathan Rauch wrote that Abdul Rauf gave a "mixed, muddled, muttered" message after 9/11.[13] Nineteen days after the attacks, he told CBS’s 60 Minutes that fanaticism and terrorism have no place in Islam. Rauch said that the message was mixed, however, because when then asked if the U.S. deserved the attacks, Rauf answered: "I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened. But the United States’ policies were an accessory to the crime that happened."[14][15][3] Rauch observed: "Note the verb. The crime "happened"?"[13]

    When the interviewer asked Rauf how he considered the U.S. an accessory, he replied, "Because we have been accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA."[5][14][15] Peter T. King, Rick Lazio, and Sarah Palin expressed concern about his remarks, when discussing Abdul Rauf as the driving force behind the Cordoba mosque.[14][16][17]

    At National Review, Dan Foster wrote: "When you say that the United States was “an accessory to the crime” of 9/11, as he did, it tends to blunt my ability to pick up the subtleties of what comes after. That interview was equivocal at every turn, and when moral equivalences are trotted out re: 9/11, the tie goes to “your either with us, or with the terrorists.” In other words, we are perfectly entitled to suspect that the “accessories to the crime” bit represents the investment, while the “condemning terrorism” bit is merely the hedge.[18] The editors of the magazine wrote "While he cannot quite bring himself to blame the terrorists for being terrorists, he finds it easy to blame the United States for being a victim of terrorism."[19]

    During an interview on New York WABC radio in June 2010, Abdul Rauf declined to say whether he agreed with the U.S. State Department's designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization. Responding to the question, Rauf said, "I'm not a politician. I try to avoid the issues. The issue of terrorism is a very complex question... I am a peace builder. I will not allow anybody to put me in a position where I am seen by any party in the world as an adversary or as an enemy."[20][21] Sarah Palin and Rick Lazio criticized his refusal to agree with the assessment of the United States that Hamas is a terrorist organization, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said Abdul Rauf had supported radical causes that sympathized with Islamic terrorism.[22][23][23][24][25]

    Lazio also alleged that Abdul Rauf may have connections with Islamist extremists, which Abdul Rauf strongly denied.[9][16] Abdul Rauf also disputed a rumor that he was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.[9][16]

    New York's Mayor Bloomberg was asked to comment on whether Abdul Rauf is a man of peace, given his background "where he's supposedly supported Hamas, [and] blamed the U.S. for 9/11 attacks".[26] Bloomberg responded:

    My job is not to vet clergy in this city.... Everybody has a right to their opinions. You don't have to worship there.... this country is not built around ... only those ... clergy people that we agree with. It's built around freedom. That's the wonderful thing about the First Amendment—you can say anything you want.[26]

    Hmmm, well yelling "Fire" in a packed auditorium is against the law as is inciting Muslim youth to become suicide bombers with koranic speeches about spreading the world of Islam.

    August 11, 2010 at 11:16 am |
  10. Reality

    What's Right With Islam "?? i.e. from the title of Feisal Abdul Rauf's book,

    And the answer? Nothing is right with Islam because the koran dictates male Muslims including FA Rauf control the world by any means. Until these dictating passages in the koran are deleted, no Muslim male can be trusted!!!

    August 11, 2010 at 10:44 am |
  11. Reality

    The only solution to the Muslim community's mosque, identity and garb woes is to delete all the off-ensive passages in the Koran i.e. those passages that call for world and fe-male do-mination by Muslim males.

    August 11, 2010 at 10:40 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.