Friday, September 17, 2010
The Imam is Feisal Abdul Rauf. He is the son of Egyptian Imam Mohammad Abdul Rauf, who came to New York City (NYC) to establish the Islamic Cultural Center of NY, which opened in 1991. The senior Rauf also established the Islamic Cultural Center of Washington, DC. Then the senior Rauf left for Malaysia.
The younger Imam Rauf studied Physics at Columbia University in NYC and in New Jersey, then was involved in teaching, sales, and real estate.
The Imam's plans for the Mosque are bold. The old Burlington Coat Factory is to become a 13-story fitness center with swimming pool, cultural center meeting rooms, and Mosque.
In July 2000, Imam Rauf said he envisioned not one, but a global association of Muslim community centers/Mosques, modeled after the American YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association).
The Imam's Center/Mosque is unlike the YMCA concept. YMCAs are non-denominational fitness centers with rooms for general community purposes, arts & crafts, sports teaching programs, without religious affiliation or religious services. YMCAs mainatain non-profit status by observing the doctrine of separation of church and state.
The Imam's plan is to establish centers for spreading moderate Islam worldwide, named "Cordoba House", which would include meetings rooms for a prostyletizing type of interfaith dialogue.
In the Imam's own words 7/2005: "Our stated objective is to establish this as a launching point, as a HQ (headquarters) is you want, of a global understanding of a moderate Islam that is true to its fundamentalist principles."
The Near Ground Zero Center/Mosque is a few blocks from Ground Zero, formerly the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Each Tower was destroyed by a Muslim Al-Qaeda suicide pilot "plane bombing", actually by flying a jet passenger airplane into the the walls of the Tower. As in the original meaning of "Ground Zero" as epicenter of a nuclear or other explosion, the waves of damage from the bombing have spread from the center of loss of about 3,000 innocent mostly American civilian lives, throughout The City, NY state, and the United States of America.
The American objection to the establishment of a Muslim Mosque so near Ground Zero is the insensitivity to the surviving family, friends, and co-workers of the WTC bombing victims. Surviving family has extended to include the majority of USA citizens objecting to the Muslim demand for this site. Other objections include a fear of future violence from a Muslim center near this site of destruction of American life and property. There also is a feeling that Muslims would be taking a bounty from a violent act of aggression against Americans on American soil, building a monument to themselves and their actioins at this site.
The proposed site originally was noted by the newsmedia as the old Burlington Coat Factory at 51 Park Place, but subsequently has been described as 45, 45-47, 45-51 Park Place.
Imam Rauf expresses only confidence in his plans. The Imam feels he has influenced American leaders, including American presidents. Imam mentions his influence on former Presient Bush. Bush will forever be remembered for his hypnotic address to the nation that "Islam is Peace" while sending American troops to stop the civil war-torn Muslim sectarian violence sites in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On CNSNews videotape posted 8/27/2010, Imam Rauf also says parts of his book were woven into Obama's Cairo speech, 2/2009. The speech was drafted by Obama White House staffers, Ben Rhodes, political advisor, and Rashed Hussein, Deputy Associate Counsel, Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).
Imam Rauf advises Muslims to "Think of ouselves as how to engineer solutions, we think of ourselves as an engineering shop. What has to be done to the US Government,
Israel, (sic, as) Muslims, educators, and media."
In alliances with Imam Rauf, American politicians have formed sloppy arguments about the rights to build a Mosque on private property. Whether the property actually is owned and by whom is a topic for a future blog.
Most of the American politicians who support the Mosque appeal to the 1st Amendment Right to practice one's religion. This of course is true, but does not include government help in acquiring property or helping with building expenses.
But NY politicians including Scott Stringer, Andrew Cuomo, Margaret Chin, and Daniel Squadron have expressed support. This would be using government to reverse the doctrine of separation of church and state, to support the Mosque at this site. NY Governor David Patterson has gotten involved offering to help find another site. If Patterson really meant on "state"-owned land he too would be violating the Separation of Church and State. Pre-Iftar Pres. Obama expressed some support but equivocated, remaining somewhat aloof on the issue.
But Imam Rauf may have influenced NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg the most. Mayor Bloomberg's staff stated NYC could offer the planned Muslim Fitness Center/Mosque special "non-profit funding".
The 9/2/2010 NY Post JG Riel also reported "tax-exempt" status for Imam Rauf's Muslim organizations. Documents indicate this tax-exempt status also applies to Rauf's wife's 1-bedroom Upper West Side apartment, listed as her residence, where they state over 500 members pray.
Rauf's 1997 American Sufi Muslim Association (ASMA), at 78th St., North Bergen, New Jersey and the 1998 ASMA, at a small (800 sq.ft.) apartment at 201 W.85th St. NYC, NY are both part of this exemption. The exemption is described as "never having to pay taxes, file returns, or reveal sources of congregation money or how it's spent", in documents reported by the Washington, DC-based Investigative Project on Terrorism.
ASMA has given money to Rauf's "Cordoba Project" which is said to support the Near Ground Zero Mosque.
Taxes may be somewhat differently assessed in NYC than in the rest of the US. But multiple lifetime, non-profit, but religious "mosque" exemptions in NY, NJ and who knows what other states, is a rather large "jizya" from the Non-Muslim, Jewish, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his staff.
Graphic: Money from Chase's Calendar of Events.
Other references: NY Post, CNSNews.com, wikipedia.