Location, location, location.
So far, the Ground Zero mosque controversy has focused excessively on its proximity to the scene of the September 11 massacre. The Park51 Islamic center would stand 560 feet from that revered site. Would moving it 5,600 feet away calm this storm?
Perhaps, but far more important is what would happen inside this mosque. That ought to determine if it should be even closer to Ground Zero, or if it even should open anywhere in America.
Imagine if the mosque’s imam said this:
Our mosque will be the world headquarters of a new Islam that is at peace with the 21st century and that strives to do for Islam what Martin Luther did for Christianity in 1517. That’s when he nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg, Germany’s Castle Church, launched the Protestant Reformation, and helped Catholicism correct its excesses.
We will pray every day to save the 2,752 innocent souls slaughtered at the World Trade Center in the name of a militant Islam that we wholeheartedly reject and endeavor to overcome.
We will pray every day to condemn the souls of September 11’s 19 evil perpetrators. May they roast in Hell forever, each morning hotter than the last.
We will pray every day for the rapid defeat of al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and other violent, Islamic-extremist terrorist groups.
We will pray every day for Islam to be a faith equal — but not superior — to other religions that people freely may choose to practice.
We will pray every day for the freedom, equality, and longevity of every human being — regardless of belief, gender, or sexuality.
We invite Jews, Christians, non-believers, and everyone else to join our efforts. And we humbly ask to pursue them adjacent to where radical Islam committed its greatest modern atrocity. May the light of our example drive the darkness from that day.
If this mosque’s imam preached these sentiments, many — and perhaps most — Americans would agree that his antidote to al-Qaeda’s poison could stand 56 feet from the scene of its most heinous crime. Instead, doubts grow about the moderation of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s voice. It seems more likely that the words above would leave him tongue-tied.
• Just 19 days after September 11 — while Ground Zero still was a flaming, smoking ruin — Rauf told CBS’s 60 Minutes: “I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened, but the United States’ policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.”
• Rauf said in 2005 that “the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al-Qaeda has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims.” Never mind the millions of Muslims whom America has liberated, or at least tried to rescue from tyranny, in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, Lebanon, and Somalia. America assisted millions more Muslims after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and is aiding Muslims today in flood-ravaged Pakistan.
• Rauf has repeatedly refused to identify Hamas as a terrorist group.
• Most worrisome, Rauf embraces sharia, the fundamentalist Islamic law responsible for too much of Earth’s totalitarian barbarism. “What Muslims want is to ensure that their secular laws are not in conflict with the Quran or the Hadith, the sayings of Muhammad,” Rauf wrote in an April 24, 2009, Huffington Post essay titled “What Sharia Law Is All About.” Rauf added: “What Muslims want is a judiciary that ensures that the laws are not in conflict with the Quran and the Hadith.” He also has written that he wants to give “religious communities more leeway to judge among themselves, according to their laws.” Sharia relies on the Koran, Hadith, and other Islamic texts to punish offenders, too often with sentences that stink of the 7th century A.D.
• A Saudi sharia court is seeking a hospital to enforce its penalty against an unidentified man who paralyzed Abdulaziz al-Mutairi, 22, in an assault with a meat cleaver. Under sharia’s “eye for an eye” principal, Judge Saoud bin Suleiman al-Youssef wants to paralyze the attacker by severing his spinal cord. To their credit, Saudi doctors so far have refused to cooperate in this carnage.
• Under Iran’s Islamic law, the Guardian reports, twelve women and three men face death by stoning for adultery. After international criticism, Iranian jurists recently announced that several of these individuals instead would be hanged.
• Since Muslims implemented sharia in northern Nigeria in 2000, at least twelve people have received death sentences for homosexuality and adultery. Most of these, however, have been commuted to mere jail time.
• Since January, women in West Aceh, Indonesia, must wear long skirts rather than jeans or trousers. Police enforce this rule, sometimes by cutting the pants that women are caught wearing. “It’s my obligation as a leader to help the people so they won’t suffer in the afterlife,” West Aceh regent Ramli Mansur said in August 18’s Jakarta Globe. “Besides, when women don’t dress according to sharia law, they’re asking to get raped.”
• Once a Muslim, always a Muslim, according to sharia. “Muslim jurists are unanimous that apostates must be punished,” the Muslim Brotherhood’s influential spiritual leader, Sheik Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, declared about Islamic converts to other faiths. The Qatari said these “apostates must be executed.”
• Even snacking can be deadly under sharia. In November 2004, a 13-year-old Iranian boy violated the Ramadan fast. He received 85 lashes, which killed him.
Does Imam Rauf embrace such brutality? Who knows? But the fact that he wants the U.S. to be “sharia compliant” rather than sharia-free should worry every liberty-loving American.
While America battles militant Islam, should a pro-sharia mosque be allowed on our soil? The First Amendment may permit sharia advocacy, much as counseling Marxism-Leninism remained legal even as Americans shivered through the Cold War. Nevertheless, there is no excuse for leaders like Gotham mayor Michael Bloomberg and President Obama (before his spectacular flip-flop) to applaud a mosque that would enshrine the grotesque and deadly doctrine of sharia. Even 5,600 miles away, such a facility would not be far enough from Ground Zero.
— New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.