Chelsea Schilling is a commentary editor and staff writer for WND and a proud U.S. Army veteran. She has also worked as a news producer at USA Radio Network and as a news reporter for the Sacramento Union.More ↓Less ↑
As many as 10,000 protesters from across the country – including family members who lost loved ones on Sept. 11, 2001 – took to the streets in New York City Sunday to fight construction of a 13-story Islamic mosque to be built just steps from Ground Zero where Muslim terrorists murdered 2,751 people in the name of Allah.
Now the organizers plan to sue the federal government to designate the site as a war memorial.
The following are some photos of the protest posted by various blogs:
As WND reported, the new Islamic mosque plans to open its doors on Sept. 11, 2011 – the 10th anniversary of that fateful day when time stood still as millions of Americans grieved the loss of loved ones, friends, family members, co-workers and strangers.
The group Stop Islamization of America, or SIOA, led by Pamela Geller, Atlas Shrugs blogger and columnist, hosted a “No 9/11 Mosque” rally at Ground Zero June 6 to protest the mosque construction. Geller hosted the event with SIOA Associate Director Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch, a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
“The only Muslim center that should be built in the shadow of the World Trade Center is one that is devoted to expunging the Quran and all Islamic teachings of the violent jihad that they prescribe, as well as all hateful texts and incitement to violence,” Geller said in a release announcing the protest.
They noted that thousands of protesters came from Washington state, California, Texas, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, South Carolina, Florida and elsewhere.
“They were Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, atheists, Muslims of conscience,” Spencer wrote. “They were lovers of freedom.”
He added, “Police estimated that 5,000 people were there, and other estimates ranged as high as 10,000. The crowd carried signs expressing their love for freedom, their contempt for Shariah, and their anger at Islamic supremacism and insult to the memories of those murdered on 9/11 that this mosque represents.”
Known as the Cordoba House, the mosque is the creation of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, or ASMA. As WND reported, the building at Park Place, just blocks north of the former World Trade Center site, was the site of a Burlington Coat Factory until a plane’s landing-gear assembly crashed through the roof on the day 19 Muslim terrorists hijacked the airliners and flew them into the Twin Towers.
The building was purchased last July by real-estate company Soho Properties, a business run by Muslims. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Kuwait-born founder of ASMA, was an investor in that transaction. Pajamas Media reporter Alyssa Lappen noted that Rauf’s father was Mohammed Abdul Rauf (1917-2004), an Egyptian contemporary of Hassan al-Banna, founder of Muslim Brotherhood – parent organization of al-Qaida, Hamas and other front-line terror groups.
Lappen also reported that ASMA received large international donations in fiscal year 2009 – including $576,312 from Qatar, a nation known to harbor terror financiers and the location of Muslim Brotherhood spiritual chief Yusuf al-Qaradawi. She noted that ASMA also received $481,942 from Holland’s Millenial Development Goals Fund, $144,752 from New York’s Carnegie Corporation, $53,664 from the U.N. Population Fund and additional donations from the Rockefeller Brothers and Hunt Alternatives funds.
Rauf has announced his plans to turn the building into a complete Islamic cultural center, with a mosque, a museum, “merchandising options,” and room for seminars to reconcile religions, “to counteract the backlash against Muslims in general, ” Speigel reported. The project may cost as much as $150 million. Plans for the facility also include a 500-seat performing arts theater, fitness center, swimming pool, library, public conference rooms, basketball courts and restaurants, according to the Tribeca Tribune.
Rauf said the mosque is expected to be a major step forward in the Americanization of the Muslim community and that if everything is done correctly, his group intends to franchise the concept and build more Cordoba Houses in other American cities and around the globe.
Cordoba Initiative aims to achieve a tipping point in Muslim-West relation within the next decade, bringing back that atmosphere of interfaith tolerance and respect that we have longed for since Muslims, Christians and Jews lived together in harmony and prosperity eight hundred years ago.
Solving some of the most intractable conflicts in the world today requires innovative strategies for cross-cultural engagement. Cordoba Initiative tackles this mandate with forethought, expertise and the ability to leverage contacts in influential positions within the Muslim World and the West. … [Bold in original text.]
He told the New York Times that purchasing the building “where a piece of the wreckage fell sends the opposite statement to what happened on 9/11.”
“It was almost obvious that something like this had to arise from the ashes of 9/11,” Daisy Khan, the Cordoba Initiative executive director, told Spiegel. “In some way, this has the hand of the divine written over it. It’s almost as if God wanted to be involved.”
In its list of business associations, Community Board 1 includes Masjid al-Farah, another mosque located at 245 West Broadway, where Rauf is spiritual leader. The mosque near Ground Zero, and future site of the Cordoba House, currently serves as an overflow building for Masjid al-Farah.
The mayor’s director of the Office of Immigrant Affairs, Fatima Shama, told the Times just last year, “We as New York Muslims have as much of a commitment to rebuilding New York as anybody.”
Aerial photo of World Trade Center Ground Zero following Sept. 11 attacks. Red square to right of Ground Zero marks former Burlington Coat Factory and proposed location of Cordoba House.
Imam Rauf, born in Egypt, has written three books: “What’s Right with Islam: A New Vision for Muslims and the West,” “Islam: A Sacred Law” and “Islam: A Search for Meaning.”
WND reported in 2003 when, at least four times that year, the FBI’s New York field office held all-day sensitivity training sessions, not far from Ground Zero, featuring Rauf.
Speaking for about two hours each session, “he gave an overview of Islamic culture and some of the differences between what fundamentalist terrorist groups say are the teachings of the Quran and what he believes, as a student of religion, the Quran actually says,” said special agent James Margolin, spokesman for the FBI New York office.
Rauf asserted that the Quran “certainly doesn’t counsel terrorism, murder or mayhem,” Margolin said. And he said terrorists have misinterpreted the Quranic term “jihad” to mean violent, or armed, struggle against nonbelievers. Rauf claims it means internal struggle.
Rauf was invited to speak in Sydney, Australia, by Premier Bob Carr in 2004. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, he said the U.S. and the West must acknowledge the harm they’ve done to Muslims before terrorism can end.
He said the West must understand the terrorists’ point of view – and he blamed Christians for starting mass attacks on civilians.
“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 said.
I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings. …
So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t. And I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.
The historic significance of President Obama’s speech to the Muslim world in Cairo cannot be overstated. Never before has an American president spoken to the global Muslim community. His speech marked a major shift in American foreign policy. … In just a few sentences he demolished the phony theory of the ‘Clash of Civilizations,’ which insists that Islam and the West must always be in conflict. Instead, he declared the United States is not at war with Islam and outlined a plan for how the conflict can be resolved. … He captured the attention of Muslims because, unlike most politicians, he was willing to critique both his own country and Muslims where they fell short of their ideals.
In an interview with BeliefNet on Islam and America, a reporter asked Rauf, “Some Islamic charities are being investigated for terrorist ties. Have you seen what you consider to be reputable Islamic charities being financially damaged?”
“We believe that a certain portion of every charity has been legitimate,” he responded. “To say that you have connections with terrorism is a very gray area. It’s like the accusation that Saddam Hussein had links to Osama bin Laden. Well, America had links to Osama bin Laden – does that mean that America is a terrorist country or has ties to terrorism?”
In 2004, Rauf participated in a 30-second advertisement, broadcast on Arabic television, in which he apologized for alleged abuses at Abu Ghraib prison.
The Times reported Rauf said he believes “Islamic terrorists do not come from another moral universe – that they arise from oppressive societies that he feels Washington had a hand in creating.”
Protesters are planning to rally again in September and also when construction begins. Geller and Spenser say they plan to sue the federal government to designate the building as a historic landmark and war memorial.
“We will be filing suit against the federal government, asking that the Burlington Coat Factory site where the mega-mosque is going to be built be designated a war memorial, a la Pearl Harbor, Gettysburg, etc., because of the part of one of the 9/11 airplanes that crashed into the roof there, and that is in the makeshift mosque that Muslims are using there now,” Spencer wrote. “And above all: we will never give up.”
Geller added, “There is a large piece of an airplane in that building. That is a war memorial. Instead of a mega mosque at Ground Zero, let’s build a 9/11 war memorial to the victims. … We will protest again in September and stage sit-ins in front of the mosque should they try to break ground. Three thousand good and decent Americans did not die in vain.”
Please, please, someone tell me this is a very, very sick joke. Please? My stomach is turning, my head is spinning, and the souls of the dead and the cries of the families are screaming in my ears.
Over my dead body.
Will we see an Aryan Nation office next door to the Holocaust museum?
Wake up. Turn off “American Idol.” Start paying attention to what we are allowing both state and federal governments to do to the greatest nation the world has ever known. A U.S. Marine in Iraq stated, “America’s not at war. The Marines are at war. America’s at the mall!”
To put a mosque at Ground Zero would be as bad as putting a flag with a rising sun at Pearl Harbor.
The Muslims want to say to families: We killed 3,000 of your people, and now we will build a monument to Muslims who were martyrs. These people are totally evil, and New York is setting itself up for another attack!
We will never be safe because our government will not admit that we are at war with Islam, and it will not stop until one of us wins.
Maybe this will keep them from bombing the area again. After all, they don’t want to blow up a mosque when killing Americans.
I think the “zero” in Ground Zero stands for the amount of respect our government has for this country they are running and the nearly 3,000 lives massacred by this peaceful Islamic religion. … If the Muslims want to put a symbol of peace where the largest terrorist attack in the history of our country has occurred, how about a cross? The cross symbolizes Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for those 3,000 innocent lives and even for the ones flying the planes and the ones planning their next attack on American soil! That’s the greatest symbol of peace you could ask for. God bless America.