Reflections on an Islamic Center in Lower Manhattan

by Daniel Pipes

Some observations:

— Cordoba House (or Park51) was announced in early April; that it remains an item of debate over four months later, and not just locally but nationally, points to Islam in the United States becoming a populist issue.

— Politicians who support the Islamic center, notably New York’s mayor Michael Bloomberg, are paying a political price for their stand.

— As in the case of French hijabs or Swiss minarets, this is a case of going after a very visible but merely symbolic problem. What would victory achieve, exactly? I’d rather focus, say, on Islamist penetration of security services.

— Feisal Abdul Rauf and Daisy Khan proved not ready for prime time; ongoing investigations increasingly reveal what unsavory Islamists they are.

— As Raymond Ibrahim points out, the huge debate over this Islamic center has done significant damage to the lawful Islamist cause.

And my position on this controversy? While Muslims have every legal right to build a mosque near Ground Zero, this initiative carries the unmistakable odor of Islamic triumphalism. More importantly, Abdul Rauf’s dubious background and associations give reason to worry that his center will spread Islamist ideology. Therefore, it should be barred from opening.

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