THE PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE, USA

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Volume XII, Issue # 144, August 3, 2010
Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr., Editor
Government Committed to & Acting in Accord with Conservative Principles
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JOHN ESPOSITO, ISLAMAPHOBIA, & THE GROUND ZERO MOSQUE
By Stephen Schwartz

JOHN L. ESPOSITO AS AMERICA'S BEST-KNOWN APOLOGIST FOR ISLAMIST IDEOLOGY & THE GLOBAL ISLAMIST MOVEMENT:  LEADING PROPAGANDIST FOR THE ISLAMIST FIFTH COLUMN IN THE U.S.A. -- PERSONIFYING ALL THAT IS WRONG WITH MIDDLE EAST STUDIES PROGRAMS IN CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN UNIVERSITIES -- HOW ESPOSITO HAS CONTRIBUTED TO THE INTELLECTUAL IMPOVERISHMENT OF AMERICAN ISLAM
FULL STORY:   John L. Esposito, Professor of Religion and International Affairs and Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., is America's best-known apologist for Saudi Wahhabism, the Turkish Muslim fundamentalist Justice and Development Party (AKP), and Islamist ideologies in general. To many, he personifies all that's wrong with Middle East Studies in America today.

On July 19, 2010, Esposito contributed a column to the CNN website titled "Islamophobia and the Muslim Center at Ground Zero." In it, he downplays complaints about the project for a fifteen-story Islamic cultural center near the site of the 9/11 atrocities by focusing on angry comments from Manhattanites who see the proposal as an expression of Islamist supremacy. Here's how he sums up criticism of the mosque project: "Islam-bashing charges leveled with no concrete evidence by pundits and politicians."

Esposito claims that "[m]osque construction in the United States has become a catalyst for increased anti-Islam and anti-Muslim sentiment, discrimination and hate crimes in recent years." Discrimination and hate crimes? Where is the concrete evidence to back up that provocative claim? Does Esposito adhere to an academic standard when making such an allegation? In fact, the FBI's most recent statistics on victims of hate crimes motivated by religious bias lists Jews at the top with 66.1% and Muslims at 7.5%.

Esposito asks, "Why should Muslims who are building a center be any more suspect than Jews who build a synagogue or center or Christians who build a church or conference center?" Answer: Neither Jewish nor Christian houses of worship are overwhelmingly financed from outside U.S. borders, and neither the Jewish nor Christian faith communities in America are overwhelmingly dominated by radicals. But too many of the major mosques in America are financed by Saudi Arabia's ultra-radical, fundamentalist, and supremacist Wahhabi sect, while the "Wahhabi lobby" of extremist groups -- the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) at the forefront -- crush American Muslims, suppressing any dissent from radical ideology. For these reasons, as I wrote in the Canadian National Post in April, 2010, American Islam is intellectually impoverished. Esposito, as an academic chieftain in Middle East Studies, has contributed to this sad condition.

Esposito prefers to ignore reality: The massive structure planned by property-owner Sharif Al-Gamal, with Feisal Abdul Rauf of the "Cordoba Initiative" as the Imam of its Islamic prayer space, and with the support of former diplomatic and financial operatives for the Iranian clerical regime, has caused doubt among both American Muslims and non-Muslims. While some non-Muslims believe the choice of "Cordoba" -- a city in Spain -- was intended to evoke Muslim reconquest, it is better known, even among Muslims, as an exaggerated, but important, symbol of interfaith cooperation.

I have been a Sunni Muslim since 1997. I have been denounced repeatedly by radical Muslims and by opponents of Islam. I have expressed my opposition to the Ground Zero Islamic center project in interviews and articles. My criticism of the proposal is based on three issues:

Insensitivity toward non-Muslims. American Muslims -- especially their leaders and the large body of Islamophile academics led by Esposito -- have a great deal of work to do to convince a significant share of non-Muslims that Islam can function alongside other faiths in the panorama of American religious communities. Traditional Islamic guidance calls on Muslims living in societies with a non-Muslim majority to avoid giving offense to their neighbors. The Koran states (29:46), "Be considerate when you debate with the People of the Book" -- i.e., Jews and Christians. Could anything appear more offensive and less considerate of American non-Muslims than erecting a large Islamic building close to Ground Zero?

Disregard for the security of American Muslims. Islam teaches that a Muslim's first interest is to obtain security for his or her family and fellow Muslims. Al-Gamal and Rauf have argued that the intent of the Ground Zero project is to further understanding of Islam and to help heal the collective wound inflicted on 9/11. But, rather than a patient, calm effort to advance conciliation, the Ground Zero mosque project appears to be a heedless venture that will inexorably increase suspicion of Muslims. What could do more to undermine the security of American Muslims than an insult, intended or not, to the memory of the dead of 9/11?

Radical and otherwise suspect associations maintained by Rauf. It has become widely known that Rauf is a leading figure in the socalled Perdana Global Peace Organisation, which is headed by one of the Islamic world's most offensive Jew-haters, former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad. Perdana was instrumental in organizing the Turkey-based attempt to run the Israeli naval embargo of Hamas-run Gaza at the end of May, 2010. The group's roster of "Role Players & Contributors" begins with Mahathir, listing Rauf as second below him. Incredibly, the same list includes Michel Chossudovsky, a Canadian Leftist professor known for his ardent defense of Slobodan Milosevic, the late Serbian demagogue. What could be more Islamophobic than to join in a public enterprise with such an individual?

Perdana is clearly an alignment of differing extremists, brought together by hatred of America, Israel, and globalization. In that regard, it much resembles Middle East Studies in America, as guided by Esposito. It includes defenders of Hamas and defenders of Milosevic. How can anybody active in such an effort claim to seek mutual understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims at a location near Ground Zero?

The "Islamophobia" to which Esposito pays lip service is not merely a politically correct label invented to silence criticism of Muslims. Islamophobia exists. It consists of condemnation of the whole religion of Islam as evil. Denunciation of crimes committed by Muslims, such as the 9/11 attacks, or the extremist affiliations of Muslims like Feisal Abdul Rauf, is not Islamophobia. Rather, such repudiation is urgently necessary for the health of American Islam as a faith community and should certainly come before any schemes for ambitious, overbearing mosques or Islamic cultural centers. Given his position in Middle East Studies, Esposito should understand that. His apologetics guarantee that he won't.


LINKS TO RELATED TOPICS:
Islamism & Jihadism -- The Threat of Radical Islam
Page Three    Page Two    Page One

The Islamist Fifth Column -- America's Internal Enemies:
Disloyalty, Subversion, Sedition, & Treason

Middle East -- Arabs, Arab States,
& Their Middle Eastern Neighbors

American Foreign Policy -- The Middle East

International Politics & World Disorder:
War, Peace, & Geopolitics in the Real World:
Foreign Affairs & U.S. National Security

   Page Two    Page One

Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.

Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
Against the U.S.A. & Western Civilization

Islamist International Terrorism &
U.S. Intelligence Agencies

Counterterrorism & U.S. National Security

U.S. National Security Strategy



Stephen Suleyman Schwartz, an American journalist, columnist and author, is Executive Director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., and designed to promote "moderate Islam." Schwartz, describing himself as a Jewish convert to the Hanafi school of Sunni Islam, is a vocal critic of the ideology of Islamism and an equally vocal critic of the Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam. Originally an adherent of the political Far Left, he currently identifies as a Neoconservative.

He wrote the foregoing article for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.


Stephen Schwartz's article was originally published in the American Thinker, August 3, 2010, and can be found on the Internet website maintained by the Middle East Forum, a foreign policy think tank which seeks to define and promote American interests in the Middle East, defining U.S. interests to include fighting radical Islam, working for Palestinian Arab acceptance of the State of Israel, improving the management of U.S. efforts to promote constitutional democracy in the Middle East, reducing America's energy dependence on the Middle East, more robustly asserting U.S. interests vis--vis Saudi Arabia, and countering the Iranian threat. (URL: http://www.meforum.org/2698/john-esposito-islamophobia-ground- zero-mosque)


Republished with Permission of the Middle East Forum
Reprinted from the Middle East Forum News
mefnews@meforum.org (MEF NEWS)
August 3, 2010




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