Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf

The Cordoba Initiative, the controversial group behind a proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque near Ground Zero, has been scrubbing its website of key information and documentation.

Last week, President Obama ignited political controversy by commenting on the rights of American Muslims to build the Islamic center near the New York City site where nearly 3,000 were killed by Islamic terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001.

Cordoba’s website previously listed the group’s board members as well as a group of advisers. The names have since vanished from the site. The list of both advisers and board members are still available in web archives.

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Another section of the site previously commented on the meaning of the word Cordoba, but that section has been removed.

The site read:

The Cordoba Name:

For hundreds of years during the middle ages, Cordoba was the capital of Muslim Spain. During much of its “golden age” from the 8th to 12th centuries, the Cordoba Caliphate witnessed a great flowering of culture, art, and philosophical inquiry amid a remarkable climate of religious tolerance. Religious freedom, while not perfect, was sufficient that many Jewish and Christian intellectuals emigrated to Cordoba, where they lived, wrote and flourished side by side with their Muslim counterparts in a strikingly pluralistic society. The Cordoba name reminds both Muslims and non-Muslims that a great Islamic civilization was once the most open and tolerant of its era.”

Blogger Anne Bayefsky, writing at Pajamas Media, documented how until last week, the Cordoba website featured a photograph of the project’s chairman, Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, and Iranian official Mohammad Javad Larijani at an event the Initiative sponsored in Malaysia in 2008.

Larijani is an Islamic cleric and serves as secretary-general of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights. His brother, Ali Larijani, is Iran’s top negotiator for nuclear issues.

Rauf was in Malaysia just last week as part of a multi-week Ramadan “public diplomacy” tour sponsored by the State Department.

The controversial photograph of Rauf and Lirijani has been removed from Cordoba’s site but is still available by web archive.

Journalist Claudia Rosett wrote at the American Thinker that immediately after Obama made his remarks about the Ground Zero mosque initiative she noticed the Cordoba website said it was “under construction.”

The tag has since been removed from the site.

Creating ‘perfect’ Islamic state
The website uncovered a scrubbed section of the Cordoba website that detailed a sister project of the organization, founded by Rauf and entitled “Shari’ah Index Project.”
The project’s stated goal was to “define, interpret and implement the concept of the Islamic State in modern times.”
“Imagine: a Perfectly Islamic State,” stated the deleted section of Cordoba’s website.
Before the section was scrubbed, the Cordoba website described a series of planning meetings beginning in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in August 2006: “This session consisted largely of brainstorming and exploring the idea of creating an index of Islamic governance. At its conclusion, the group presented a vision for the project as well as a roadmap.”

At the second planning meeting, in February 2007, the website documented how Rauf expanded the group to include Shariah experts from “Indonesia, Iran (to represent the Shi’a perspective), and Turkey, as well as two additional participants from Pakistan and Malaysia.”
The website did not identify the experts. However, Cordoba’s deletion of a picture of Rauf with  Larijani leaves open the possibility the Iranian cleric was involved.
In 2008, Cordoba furthered its Shariah project, deciding to put together a book on the subject as well  further refine the philosophy, overall structure and organization of the Shariah Index.

With additional research by Brenda J. Elliott

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