WHY THE GROUND ZERO MOSQUE IS COUNTERPRODUCTIVE
TO THE ISLAMIST CAUSE
By Raymond Ibrahim
Consider: Before the Islamist strikes of 9/11, mainstream America was incognizant of the threat posed by radical Islam. Islamic apologetics and anti-U.S. polemics were unquestioned orthodoxy, not only in their natural habitat — academia — but also more generally.
After 9/11, however, the veil was partially lifted: a flood of books dealing with Islam, political Islam, jihad, shari'a, "dhimmitude," and any number of related topics appeared; politically incorrect books on Islam became bestsellers. The media began, at least, to acknowledge the existence of radical Islam; biased and politicized academics were exposed and refuted.
In other words, one of the unintended consequences of 9/11 was that more Americans began to take note and interest in Islam — which led to greater scrutiny of its formerly esoteric epistemology. After 9/11, it was no longer a few aging Orientalists who knew, for instance, that military jihad is obligatory in Islam, or that enmity for the infidel is standard, or that women and dhimmis are subjugated. The layman — the heart of democracy — began to be aware. In this sense, then, the 9/11 strikes were counterproductive to the Islamist cause.
All Islamists, of course, desire what jihadist groups like al-Qa'ida desire — the reestablishment of a global caliphate and enforcement of shari'a law. But, unlike al-Qa'ida, most mature Islamists know that the time is not ripe for all-out violence, which only exposes their activities to greater scrutiny. In fact, Islamists have long found it more expedient to "destroy Western civilization from within," necessitating projects such as the Middle East Forum's Islamist Watch, which monitors and exposes subversive, nonviolent Islamist machinations on United States soil.
Yet, if one of the unintended consequences of 9/11 was to place the spotlight on Islam, ten years later, one of the unintended consequences of the 9/11 mosque is the same: Since it became known, the mosque project has been reported by all mainstream media, including CBS, CNN, the Examiner, Fox News, Al Jazeera, the New York Daily News, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Washington Times, ad infinitum.
Prominent political personalities, such as former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, have also publicized the matter — the former arguing that the mosque project is part of "an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization," the latter calling it an "unnecessary provocation; it stabs hearts." The National Republican Trust produced an ad saying the 9/11 mosque constitutes "an invitation for more" strikes like 9/11. Most recently, the Anti-Defamation League asserted that "the building of an Islamic Center at this location [near Ground Zero] is counterproductive to the healing process."
The inevitable result of all this media attention is precisely what Islamists seek to avoid — unwanted attention — as Americans, once again, take notice, think and talk, including about dormant issues.
And, while the main issue at stake (whether or not the 9/11 mosque should be built) has little to do with exposing Muslim doctrines or Islamist ideologies per se, consider: the more it is discussed in the media, the more the great majority unfamiliar with the larger issues begin to wonder what all the ruckus is about. A stray word lingers in the mind — perhaps "jihad" or "shari'a" or "political Islam." People begin to investigate some more, and learn some more; some become better informed of the Islamist threat, which they go on to discuss with friends and family. A cycle begins.
In short, it took jihadist violence on 9/11 to alert Americans to the threat of radical Islam. Many Islamists learned their lesson only to join their less conspicuous brethren working beneath the radar, via subversive means. The greater lesson of the 9/11 mosque, however, is that, so long as Islamists rock the boat and bring attention to themselves — even through nonviolent means — so long will they risk exposing their true selves.
And if the 9/11 mosque is actually built, based on the amount of controversy it has already generated, there is reason to believe that it will be a permanent source of attention, provocation, and scrutiny — that is, a permanent Achilles' heel for the Islamist movement.
Finally, it should be observed that, while the stir being caused by the 9/11 mosque is not as far-reaching or consequential as that caused by the 9/11 strikes, it is proportionate: For just as subversive Islamists work bit by bit, so too does every bit of unwanted attention work against them.
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Raymond Ibrahim, a historian of Islam, Islamism and the Middle East, is the Associate Director of the Middle East Forum, a guest lecturer at the National Defense Intelligence College, and the editor of The Al-Qa'ida Reader, a collection of tranlations of key texts and documents of the Islamist movement. Ibrahim's translations of the religious texts and political propaganda comprising this collection help readers comprehend the origins, development, history, and serious danger of the Islamist war doctrines of Usama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Founders of Al-Qa'ida and implacable enemies of the U.S.A. and the West.
The foregoing article by Raymond Ibrahim was originally published in Pajamas Media, August 4, 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-à-vis Saudi Arabia, and countering the Iranian threat. (Article URL: http://www.meforum.org/2700/why-the-ground-zero-mosque- is-counterproductive)
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