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Jay Bookman: ‘Feisal Abdul Rauf’ is Arabic for ‘Shirley Sherrod’

An excellent article from Jay Bookman on the parallel between the controversy surrounding Shirley Sherrod and what is happening to Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.

In some ways, ‘Feisal Abdul Rauf’ is Arabic for ‘Shirley Sherrod’

By Jay Bookman
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Feisal Abdul Rauf and Shirley Sherrod have a lot in common.

At first blush, that might seem a strange assertion. Abdul Rauf is a naturalized U.S. citizen and a Muslim imam in New York City; Sherrod is a black woman from the American South. But they have been both selected as targets by a conservative media machine that is so intent on creating useful villains that it pays little or no attention to concepts such as truth or accuracy. The goal is to create “Objects of Hate” that can then be used to inflame the American public.

Abdul Rauf, for example, describes himself as “both a Muslim and an American citizen, as proud of the important and fundamental principles that America stands for as I am the important and fundamental principles for which Islam stands.”

In fact, Abdul Rauf argues, the reason so many Muslims flee their native countries to come here is because the United States is actually more true to Islamic principles of “human equality, human liberty and social justice” than many so-called Islamic societies.

He proclaims himself a patriotic American, and has harshly condemned violent extremists who cite Islam as their inspiration. September 11, Abdul Rauf says, is “a day that will live in infamy,” noting that “no nation could suffer such an assault without responding in a very robust way.” In the wake of bombing attacks in Great Britian in 2005, he expressed “a sense of deep revulsion,” said that true Muslims “naturally condemn the brutal attacks in London in the most unequivocal terms,” and urged British Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement in identifying and capturing those involved.

Abdul Rauf has also worked tirelessly to promote better relations among the Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths. Rabbi Rabbi David Rosen, who heads the American Jewish Committee’s international interreligious affairs department in Jerusalem, calls him “an important voice of moderation,” and Jewish Week has lauded him as “a key voice of reason among Muslim leaders here.”

In 2003, Abdul Rauf joined Rabbi Israel Singer, chairman of the World Jewish Congress, along with members of the Israeli Knesset and Palestinian leaders, in an initiative to bring moderate Palestinians and Israelis together to try to find common ground.

In his 2004 book, “What’s Right with Islam is What’s Right with America,” Abdul Rauf writes that the future of Islam will depend on its acceptance of a form of democratic capitalism. Toward that end, he stresses the emergence of what he calls an “American Islam.” Catholic immigrants, he notes, came to this country and in time created a distinctive American Catholicism, which in turn influenced Catholicism as a whole. Jewish immigrants likewise created a distinctly American version of Judaism, which has also influenced the larger faith.

The creation of an American Islam, Abdul Rauf believes, can help modernize Islam globally and in the process ease the strains between his adopted country and his faith.

Abdul Rauf is, in other words, everything that critics of Islam claim they want to see. More importantly, his moderate, pro-American message has proved so appealing to fellow U.S. Muslims that his mosque has outgrown its origins in a lower Manhattan storefront and needs to expand. He and his congregation envision a 13-story complex on Park Street in lower Manhattan, modeled after the 92nd Street YMCA and the Jewish Community Center in New York. The facility would include a community center, auditorium, mosque, swimming pool and restaurants.

The local community board in lower Manhattan, which no doubt includes many who experienced September 11 firsthand, has voted 29-1 to approve the project’s construction, strong testimony to the faith they have in Abdul Rauf’s mission.

“I think they need to establish a place such as this for people of goodwill from mainline Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths so we can come together to talk,” said Father Kevin Madigan of St. Peter’s Catholic Church, located a block away from the proposed facility.

In some circles, however, Abdul Rauf’s proposed mosque has become better known as the “Ground Zero mosque.” (It is actually located two city blocks away from Ground Zero, with no view of the site.) Both Abdul Rauf and the proposed project have become the target of a vicious, concerted smear motivated in part by irrational if sincere fear, and in part by cynical opportunists who hope to profit by that fear.

The ad above, for example, was put together by the Republican National Trust PAC. The group supposedly tried to buy air time to put the ad on CBS and NBC but was rejected. (The Republican National Trust is a major player in the PAC world. In the 2008 cycle, it spent more than $8 million trying to beat Barack Obama, plus another $434,000 helping to elect Saxby Chambliss here in Georgia.)

Interestingly, there is no indication that RNTPAC tried to place the ad on Fox News, which makes sense for a couple of reasons. A rejection by Fox would have undercut the group’s effort to depict itself as a victim of liberal censorship. And besides, why pay for something that you’re going to get for free anyway?

Fox has played a major role in ginning up conservative opposition to the mosque. Sean Hannity has shown the ad on his Fox show, condemning Abdul Rauf as an “extremist” and a champion of “radical Islam.” Sarah Palin has gotten involved, using Twitter to beg “peaceful Muslims” to “refutiate” the mosque, as if to imply that Abdul Rauf must be a member of al Qaida.

Rick Lazio, the GOP candidate for governor in New York, has come out in opposition to the mosque, trying to use the issue to boost his campaign. That led the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association to rebuke Lazio, warning that “for any candidate for public office to politicize Ground Zero shows a lack of respect to the families, who will forever live with the terrible memory of that dark day…. This conduct forsakes the memory of all those who lost their lives on September 11th.”

On NPR, Sam Nunberg of the Center for Law and Justice has warned that approving the mosque “would be like removing the sunken ship in Pearl Harbor to erect a memorial to the Japanese kamikazes killed in the attack.” Pamela Geller, a prominent conservative blogger who appeared on CNN to debate the mosque, called Abdul Rauf a “stealth jihadist” and the mosque itself “an act of jihad.” Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, now retired but once the head of U.S. military intelligence in the Rumsfeld Pentagon, told a conference at Colorado Christian College that the mosque was part of “the incremental taking over of our nation.”

In each and every case cited above, opponents of the mosque have refused to allow a distinction to be made between Islamic extremists and Muslims of demonstrated good faith such as Abdul Rauf. Critics of the Islamic community complain repeatedly that they don’t hear enough from moderates, but it’s pretty clear from this example that they do not hear because they refuse to listen.

Karen Armstrong, one of the most respected religious scholars of her generation, wrote something that now seems all too prescient in her foreward to Abdul Rauf’s book.

“It is vital that we know who our enemies are, but it is equally important to know who they are not. Only a tiny proportion of Muslims take part in acts of terror and violence. If our media and politicians continue to denigrate Islam, accepting without question the stereotypical view that has prevailed in the West since the time of the Crusades, we will eventually alienate Muslims who have no quarrel with the West, who are either enjoying or longing for greater democracy, and who are horrified by the atrocities committed in the name of their faith.”

Finally, I’d like to close with a video of the “stealth jihadist” himself, appearing at a public hearing about the proposed mosque. Watch and listen, then compare Abdul Rauf’s message to the message of the video at the top of this post.

Ask yourself: Who is the purveyor of racial hate and fear, and who is the healer? Who is the extremist, and who is the moderate? Who is the danger to this country, and who is its friend?

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  • Johnny R

    I don’t get it. Pat Robertson says 9/11 was punishment by God for all the gays and abortions. But when Imam Rauf says that the U.S. played a major role in the upbringing of Bin Laden – considering they supported him in the Soviet-Afghan War apparently Imam Rauf is unpatriotic.

  • DrM


    So “moderate” to you means adopting ridiculous pro-israeli hasbara bull stool propaganda. You’re an extremist and a hypocrite demanding “moderation,” ah the irony.
    No dice, I’m happy to be an “extremist” by your standards, skunk.

  • J

    Sorry, but the quotes you use to establish Feisal Abdul Rauf as a moderate conflict with other things he’s said. He is *not* an Islamic version of Shirley Sherrod. Here’s some other quotes by Feisal Abdul Rauf:

    “The US and the West must acknowledge the harm they have done to Muslims before terrorism can end, says [Feisal Abdul Rauf] an Islamic cleric invited to Sydney by Premier Bob Carr… Speaking from his New York mosque, Imam Feisal said the West had to understand the terrorists’ point of view. In a move likely to cause controversy with church leaders, Imam Feisal said it was Christians who started mass attacks on civilians. “The Islamic method of waging war is not to kill innocent civilians. But it was Christians in World War II who bombed civilians in Dresden and Hiroshima, neither of which were military targets.”” … Imam Feisal, who argues for a Western style of Islam that promotes democracy and tolerance, said there could be little progress until the US acknowledged backing dictators and the US President gave an “America Culpa” speech to the Muslim world.”

    He’s also refused to label Hamas a terrorist organization.

    He supports Sharia law (i.e. Islamic law) in America: “Throughout my discussions with contemporary Muslim theologians, it is clear an Islamic state can be established in more than just a single form or mold. It can be established through a kingdom or a democracy. The important issue is to establish the general fundamentals of Sharia that are required to govern. It is known that there are sets of standards that are accepted by [Muslim] scholars to organize the relationships between government and the governed. When questioned about this, Abdul Rauf continued: “Current governments are unjust and do not follow Islamic laws.”

    “The Feisal Abdul Rauf who spoke to 60 Minutes in 2001 is the same Abdul Rauf who, in the last couple of months, espoused the spread of Sharia law on Arabic websites and said the opposite in the pages of the Daily News.”

    Feisal Abdul Rauf on 9/11: “I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened, but the United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.” (Gee, that doesn’t sound like his statement above, about Muslims condemning it in the strongest possible terms.)

    I think Feisal Abdul Rauf is playing a “good cop, bad cop” routine where he’s playing the “good muslim”.

  • jock


    Scared? Haha lawrence you wish bro…you wish

    I just like taking your words from time to time and sending them right back to you. Why come up with new trash when your output is readily available…

    Sorta like recycling the garbage really…:P


  • @ JOCK:ARE YOU SCARED OF HEARING THE TRUTH?You are basically bunch of ignorant cowards.Try to face the truth about Islam and Muslims and get out of the Christian West before it is too late.You Muslims have been exposed now and your days have been numbered.People can see your true face in Muslim countries,which is quite ugly.You like to have freedom of speech but you do not allow that to others.

  • jock

    to allow a post by lawrence, on loonwatch would be considered a surrender to the forces of mediocrity. Every post by lawrence should be considered a personification of moronic behaviour unless proven otherwise. No more lawrence period…:P

  • livingengine

    Did you know that Feisal Abdul Rauf wants to conquer America with an intensive ten year program at “a level never before undertaken”, and analegous to the Apollo program?

    It is in his book “What’s Right with Islam” starting at page 252.

    Why does he say he wants to do this? Because Muslims will attack us if we don’t. So, according to Abdul Rauf we should throw our doors open to people who will destroy or country, so that they don’t destroy it.

    Do you think it is just the ravings of a maniac? Take a look at the US-Muslim Engagemnet Program which sounds a lot like what Feisal Abdul Rauf describes in his book at page 256.

    From the US-Muslim Engagement Project web site.
    “Immediate action is needed. Neither the U.S. nor Muslims in regions of conflict can afford a further deterioration in relations. Extremist groups and movements have gained ground in many Muslim countries. Their appeal will grow unless the U.S. acts more effectively to address the economic, political, and security concerns that extremists have exploited. ”

    Or how about this quote from the mad Imam saying how he would like to see a “ subsidiary entity within the judiciary that employs religious jurists . . . to comment on the compliance of certain decisions with their religious views and to provide guidance . . .. on how . . . Shariah compliant these decisions are.” page 111

    When is Loonwatch ever going to grow up?

  • Adam

    Wow lawrence. So basically america has to lower it’s morality to the level of eastern dictatorships? No more moral superiority than.

  • livingengine

    When will Feisal Abdul Rauf unequivocally distinguish himself from Mahathir Mohamad?
    During the 6/06/10 interview with Aaron Klein, Feisal Abdul Rauf flared up, called his association with Perdana an “absolute lie“.
    Feisal Abdul Rauf said his involvement with Perdana was limited to a one time lecture.
    As anyone can see, that is not true. Feisal Abdul Rauf also signed a petition with Mahathir to “criminalize war”.
    Why was it necessary to call a perfectly reasonable question an “absolute lie”?
    Why was Feisal Abdul Rauf in a group with Francis Boyle, who is currently advising Native American Indians, and Hawaiians how to secede from the Union using the Palestinians as a role model.?
    Why was Feisal Abdul Rauf featured on the Perdana website as a “role player”/”contributor” for nearly 5 years? Don’t we deserve some kind of an explanation for that?
    Has Feisal Abdul Rauf told Perdana about the “absolute lie”? Because it is still there. Nothing has changed.

    Does Feisal Abdul Rauf still believe in the Perdana petition, or did something change? Or would that it be an “absolute lie” to ask such a question?
    Mahathir doesn’t believe 911 was committed by Muslims, and neither does Feisal Abdul Rauf. He has said as much in his public statements, and in his writings.
    Feisal Abdul Rauf what is your relationship with Mahathir Mohamad, with the other signatories of the KUALA LUMPUR INITIATIVE TO CRIMINALISE WAR, and why did you tell Aaron Klein your involvement with Perdana was “an absolute lie” ?

  • iSherif

    Very interesting video of man standing in front of proposed site for Mosque and Community Center:

  • Nele

    Wow…I cannot believe that this site is covering REAL broadcast from the United States. It is scaaaaaaary. That trailer about KILL the mosque (or maybe also whomever you may find inside) is not really on TV, is it?

    Unbelieving regards from Germany…^^

  • To allow a Mosque at ground zero will be like a stab at the heart of America the second time by Muslims.Every Muslim in the West should be considered a potential enemy unless proven otherwise.No more Mosques.Period.

  • Sir David ( Illuminati membership number 5:32)

    Well said
    Who is the enemy of democracy?
    Looks clear to me

  • Zeeshan

    nice one

  • Hassan

    I sincerely appreciate that, Mindy. ^_^

  • mindy1

    If he is as open minded as the article says, then I wish him luck in his endeavor. We need more open minded people to to try to heal the wounds of the world, and we can start in small ways like this.

  • mindy1

    If Imam Rauf is as open minded as described than I wish him luck in his endeavor. I hope we will learn to accept him, and I will fully admit to changing my mind about how I feel about this project, initially I was opposed, but now I am not. That first video is so full of hate I would have been embarressed to put it up. Self defense is fine, but stoking hate is never a good idea.

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  • Les

    Excellent article.

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