Sukkur, five Christians killed outside churchI got to this news story with a dateline of 3 August 2010 via the Gates of Vienna blog site.
A group of masked men opened fire on the faithful gathered to talk about security. Since 2008, members of extremists group threaten non-Muslims: "they pollute the land they live on and must leave."
It is not a good example of tolerance for other religions, but it is Pakistan, after all. Then there is Turkey, our friend and ally, which is not open to Christians building churches, or Egypt, where repairs to Coptic Christian Churches are long in being approved, or Saudi Arabia, where Christian expression in the open is forbidden.
But, this blog post is about the Muslim Culture Center proposed for Manhattan, here in the United States of America, about which there has been so much controversy. The New York Times described the Cultural Center thusly in a 25 May 2010 article:
The proposed center, called the Cordoba House,♠ would rise as many as 15 stories two blocks north of where the twin towers stood. It would include a prayer space, as well as a 500-seat performing arts center, a culinary school, a swimming pool, a restaurant and other amenities.A lot of people are outraged that a Muslim center of any kind would be built so close to the 9/11 Ground Zero, which became Ground Zero when a team of Muslim fanatics crashed a couple of airplanes into the World Trade Center Towers (and went after two other targets, in DC).♥
There are questions about the funding for this project, but that funding should be no more open to examination than the funding of other church organizations in the United States. Wikipedia quotes CNN Correspondent Rick Sanchez as saying that there should be equality, but he gets confused by saying we should know how money is going to Rome (Mr Sanchez claims allegiance to Roman Catholicism). That is not the point. The point is money coming from someplace, in this case Saudi Arabia. Contributions from many Muslims is one thing. However, an orchestrated effort to build this facility with, say, Saudi money, for geo-political purposes, would be declasse, and maybe illegal.
A lot of objection focuses on Muslim cleric Feisal Abdul Rauf, born in Kuwait and a Muslim Sufi with Egyptian ties. Cleric Rauf is the chief proponent of the mosque project. Some claim he is not sufficiently harsh on terrorism, as this paragraph from Wikipedia shows:
Columnist Jonathan Rauch wrote that Abdul Rauf gave a "mixed, muddled, muttered" message after 9/11. Nineteen days after the attacks, he told CBS’s 60 Minutes that fanaticism and terrorism have no place in Islam, but Rauch considered his message "muddled" because when asked if the U.S. deserved to be attacked, 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." Rauch commented: "Note the verb. The crime "happened"?" [New York Rep Peter] King and [Former Alaska Gov]Sarah Palin have also expressed concern about his remark.Lots of footnotes at the Wikipedia article.
But, we have this from Newsweek Magazine International Edition editor, Fareed Zakariah:
Fareed Zakariah, (a PhD from Harvard). He writes: "... Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, is a moderate Muslim clergyman. He has said one or two things about American foreign policy that strike me as overly critical —but it’s stuff you could read on The Huffington Post any day. On Islam, his main subject, Rauf’s views are clear: he routinely denounces all terrorism—as he did again last week, publicly."As for President Obama's comments on this issue, I defer to Law Professor Ann Althouse, who commented here, and, in a more exasperated manner, here.
Someone I know wrote this today:
Commenting on the Mosque at ground zero issue, my Iraqi ( Shi'a) friend said, I wonder how Muslims would feel if after destroying a Pakistani village with a drone, the US built a church in the ruins? They get it, apparently we don't. Amid all the blather about tolerance, freedom to worship, and "feel good" pontificating, commonsense is nowhere to be found.But, life isn't fair and I have to put up with some pretty strange behavior just to protect my own rights under the US Constitution.
So, in summing this up, I say that we should let this "Cultural Center" go forward, not because we like it, but because it is who we are. Not because we think it is innocent, but because we represent the worlds best hope for human rights. This protecting of human rights is an important point here, in that Islam, in the beginning, held itself forth as being a religion and culture that protected the rights of the little person. Now there are swaths of Islam that protects what it sees as true Islam by terrorizing any who deviate from that view of the truth.
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ADDENDUM: All of that said, when the Cultural Center is built the US Secretary of State should go to the opening. Then, when she (or he) is back in Washington, an invitation should go out to the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to come by for tea on a specified afternoon. After tea the Secretary of State should note♦ that we are looking forward to the opening of a Christian or Jewish Cultural Center in Riyadh and to a new Christian Church in Turkey and the freeing up of funds and authority for the repair of Coptic churches in Egypt. All very quiet. All very diplomatic. All very firm.
Regards — Cliff
♠ NB: The name has been changed, subsequently to Park51, after the location, 51 Park Place.
♥ I am advised by a former fire fighter that the New York Fire Department starting using the term "Ground Zero" after the first bombing of the World Trade Center, back in 1993.
♦ If we have evidence from our Intelligence Agencies tracking of funds flowing to terrorist organizations and can track some such money to the Cultural Center and to sources in Saudi Arabia, the Secretary should provide a sanitized version of those reports before talking to the Saudi Ambassador about what they should be doing, in turn, to improve Muslim/Western relations.