The Corner

The Hidden Imam

In remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf gave his “pledge” to resolve discord around the proposed mosque near Ground Zero:

“Everything is on the table,” he said. “We really are focused on solving it” in a way that will be best for everyone concerned, he added. “I give you my pledge.”

He did not specify what compromises or measures might be part of the solution, although he welcomed what he said was a flood of good will and advice being offered, and suggested that a deliberate pause in moving forward was one possibility.

One council member asked Mr. Abdul Rauf if he would consider delaying the project to take that time to have more public conversations.

“Our advisers have been looking at every option — including that,” Mr. Abdul Rauf said.

Meanwhile, on the homepage today, Ibn Warraq gives a guided tour of the many prevarications of Imam Rauf, the “peacebuilder” who won’t call Hamas a terrorist organization and who thinks peace in Israel means an “Arab state” with a Jewish minority. A flavor:

Rauf says one thing to Western audiences and another to Muslim audiences. He is quite capable of writing reassuring things, as in the New York Daily News earlier this year: “My colleagues and I are the anti-terrorists. We are the people who want to embolden the vast majority of Muslims who hate terrorism to stand up to the radical rhetoric. Our purpose is to interweave America’s Muslim population into the mainstream society.”

But when presented with actual opportunities to “interweave America’s Muslim population into the mainstream society,” Rauf and most of his fellow Muslims decline. Nearly ten years ago, I was the guest of the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies (PISAI) of Rome. PISAI is dedicated to interfaith dialogue between Christians and Muslims. But as the director at the time said to me, “There is no real dialogue, since Muslims never reciprocate the goodwill gestures made by the Christians. The result is we sit down together, and the Christians say what a wonderful religion Islam is, and the Muslims say what a wonderful religion Islam is.” Rauf was invited to give a sermon in a church and did so, but he never reciprocated by inviting a Christian to give a sermon in a mosque. This, for Rauf and his ilk, would be unthinkable.

Like Tariq Ramadan, also touted by the unvigilant and ill-informed as a great moderate Muslim, Rauf is a master of double talk and prevarication. When asked if he considered Hamas a terrorist organization, as it is labeled by the State Department, Rauf ducked, weaved, and sidestepped: “Look, I’m not a politician. The issue of terrorism is a very complex question. There was an attempt in the ’90s to have the U.N. define what terrorism is and say who was a terrorist. There was no ability to get agreement on that.” The interviewer persisted. Rauf, clearly flustered, replied, “I am a peace builder. I will not allow anybody to put me in a position where I am seen by any party in the world as an adversary or as an enemy.”

This unwillingness to criticize Hamas is hardly surprising, given his views on Israel. In a letter published on Nov. 27, 1977, in the New York Times, he wrote, “In a true peace it is impossible that a purely Jewish state of Palestine can endure. . . . In a true peace, Israel will, in our lifetimes, become one more Arab country, with a Jewish minority.”


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