TODAY’S QUESTION: Should the U.S. send the imam who is promoting building a mosque near ground zero to the Middle East?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 | 10:54 a.m. CDT; updated 11:50 a.m. CDT, Monday, August 23, 2010

The State Department plans to send Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the man at the center of plans to build a mosque near the site of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, on a visit to the Middle East.

According to The Associated Press, Rauf, who has been on two separate State Department-sponsored trips, will visit three Middle Eastern countries to discuss Muslim life in America and to promote religious tolerance.

In a CNN article, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said, “We have a long-term relationship with him.” He added that, “His work on tolerance and religious diversity is well-known, and he brings a moderate perspective to foreign audiences on what it's like to be a practicing Muslim in the United States."

Crowley said the trip is one of about 1,200 similar programs to send experts abroad and that last year the State Department had 52 trips specifically focused on promoting religious tolerance. According the transcript, the trip is being handled by the International Information Programs office.

Some members of Congress have announced their opposition to the trip. Reps. Illeana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and Peter King, R-N.Y., released a joint statement saying government funding of the trip is “unacceptable.”

In the statement, the Associated Press writes that Lehtinen and King said Rauf had suggested in at least one interview that the U.S. is to blame for the Sept. 11 attacks. The representatives said that taxpayer money shouldn’t be used to pay for the trip.

They also said, “The State Department’s selection of Feisal Abdul Rauf to represent the American people through this program further calls into question the administration’s policy and funding priorities.”

Should the U.S. send the imam who is promoting building a mosque near ground zero to the Middle East?

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Ellis Smith August 11, 2010 | 12:40 p.m.

During the recent demonstrations in New York City over the proposed construction of a center and mosque, those opposed displayed various signs and banners.

"The Economist," a British weekly publication that's widely read in the United States, published an article about the demonstrations and showed a photo of one banner. I may not have the exact wording reproduced here, but the message seems clear:

"You can build your mosque after we're allowed to build a synagogue in Mecca."

Dealing with some Muslims is like encountering a one-way street: everything is expected to move in only one direction.

(Report Comment)
Andrew Hansen August 12, 2010 | 8:25 a.m.

@Ellis : I seem to be saying that American Muslims are somehow responsible for the policies of the Saudi government.

(Report Comment)
Carlos Sanchez August 12, 2010 | 9:37 a.m.

In one word "No".

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro August 12, 2010 | 11:59 a.m.

After the attack on American soil on September 11th, the political correct thing would have been to discourage the use of the word "Mosque" from use in America.
It would be more appropriate to refer to a Mosque as an Islamic Church or a Muslim Synagogue.
Of course, if we were able to refer to Mosques based on their threat level to America, we would be able to refer to a Mosque as the Fundamentalist Iranian Mahdi Mosque of Brooklyn, or the Reformed Islamic Mosque of St. Peters, or perhaps the Conservative or Progressive Mosque of Chesterfield.
America needs more "Mosques Light." Sort of like the way our Christian and Jewish houses of worship and community centers are heading.
Wounds from 9-11 have a long ways to heal. It seems like the "Nation of Islam" needs to offer some olive branches to the people of America. In your face building of this Mosque just doesn't "feel" right.
I just don't understand how those who force political correctness on others can't fathom that this is the perfect time to realize that the concept of political correctness is now staring them in the face, from the other side.
Building a Mosque on or very near "Ground Zero," at this time, would just be in bad taste.
It does not resolve the issue of blame or facilitate forgiveness.
IMHO of course.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking August 12, 2010 | 12:45 p.m.

Who's pushing the idea of building a mosque there in the first place? Nonwithstanding the fact that the people that carried out 9/11 are not representative of Muslims in general, it just seems to be a bad idea considering popular attitudes in the US. Why do something that is likely to be viewed as inflammatory? I'd think the Muslim leadership in that area would have thought of this.

As far as synagogues in Mecca, Saudi Arabia makes no bones about being a de facto theocracy. We in the US bend over backwards to show that we're not. I'd think the guy with the sign is comparing apples and oranges.


(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro August 12, 2010 | 1:10 p.m.

List of mosques in Israel and the Palestinian territories
How many mosques are there in the US?

(Report Comment)

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