Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed
The director of a Dubai-based, Arab television network writes that most of the world’s Muslims couldn’t care less about building a mosque near Ground Zero and that plans to do so would only create a “monument” to terrorists.
Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, director-general of Al-Arabiya TV, wrote a column in the Aug. 16 London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat arguing that President Obama was wasting his time championing construction of the proposed mosque, which Al-Rashed says the majority of world’s Muslims don’t want anyway.
“I can’t imagine that Muslims [actually] want a mosque at this particular location, because it will become an arena for the promoters of hatred, and a monument to those who committed the crime,” writes Al-Rashed in the column, which was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute. “Moreover, there are no practicing Muslims in the area who need a place to worship, because it is a commercial district. Is there anyone who is [really] eager [to build] this mosque?”
He adds, “I do not think that the majority of Muslims want to build a monument or a place of worship that tomorrow may become a source of pride for the terrorists and their Muslim followers, nor do they want a mosque that will become a shrine for the haters of Islam.”
New York Islamic leader Faisal Abdul Rauf, president of the Cordoba Initiative, is leading the plan to build a 13-story, $100 million Islamic cultural center and mosque near the corner of Park Place and West Broadway – about two blocks from the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Al-Rashed, whose network competes with the more extremist-friendly Al Jazeera TV, condemns Rauf’s plan.
“The individual who submitted the building application – I do not know whether he [really] wants [to build] a mosque that will promote reconciliation, or whether he is [just] an investor looking for quick profits. Because the idea of a mosque right next to a site of destruction is not at all an intelligent one,” Al-Rashed writes. “The last thing Muslims want today is to build a religious center that provokes others, or a symbolic mosque that people will visit as a [kind of] museum next to a cemetery.”
President Obama has released a pair of statements regarding the planned mosque, qualifying support for the religious freedom of Muslims to build the mosque – even in the shadow that was once cast by the World Trade Center – with a hint that the location of the proposed construction may not be the wisest choice.
Al-Rashed’s column addresses the president’s comments as well.
“U.S. President Barack Obama took a difficult position when he supported the construction of a mosque on a site where 3,000 U.S. citizens were killed by Al-Qaeda terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001,” Al-Rashed writes. “Though the president’s position was correct in principle, that is, in terms of the principle of freedom of worship, I think he took a political stand [on an issue] that is unnecessary and unimportant, even for the Muslims. This mosque is not an issue for Muslims, and they do not care about its construction.”
Al-Rashed’s comments prompted commentary from William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard.
Al-Rashed’s statement, Kristol writes, “should mean the end of plans for a mosque near Ground Zero. Mr. Al-Rashed supports President Obama’s stand for the mosque in principle. … But his practical case against building the mosque is irrefutable. It should lead well-meaning liberals to join with us dastardly conservatives … in calling for the organizers to shelve the plans for a mosque at this site.”
“We have to build the mosque, as you are allowed to build the church and Israelis are building their holy places,” he said during a radio interview with Aaron Klein, WND’s Jerusalem bureau chief and host of an investigative radio show on New York’s WABC Radio.
As Muslims, “We have to build everywhere,” al-Zahar said. “In every area we have, [as Muslims] we have to pray, and this mosque is the only site of prayer, especially for the people when they are looking [to be] in the group, not an individual.”
He also said that Muslims around the world, including those in the U.S., are united in a common cause.
“First of all, we have to address that we are different as people, as a nation totally different. We already are living under the tradition of Islam. … Islam is controlling every source of our life as regard to marriage, divorce, our commercial relationships. … Even the Islamic people or the Muslims in your country, they are living now in the tradition of Islam. They are fasting, they are praying.”