Quran Burning Advocate, Geert Wilders, Europe’s Anti-Islamist Heads to Ground Zero

On September 11, Geert Wilders, the contentious Dutch politician who likened the Koran to Mein Kampf, spoke in New York on the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. He delivered a message, forewarning about the dangers of Islam and the building of a “ground-zero mega-mosque.”

Under the threat of death from radical Islamists, Geert, stated; “We who have come to speak today, object to this mosque project because its promoter and his wealthy sponsors have never suggested building a center to promote tolerance and interfaith understanding where it is really needed: In Mecca – a town where non-Muslims are not even allowed to enter, let alone build churches, synagogues, temples or community centers. So why should we do that?”

Obama and Religious Leaders Call for Religious Tolerance

Prominent Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders held an extraordinary “emergency summit” meeting in the capital on Tuesday to denounce what they called “the derision, misinformation and outright bigotry” aimed at American Muslims during the controversy over the proposed Islamic community center near ground zero.
They said they were alarmed that the “anti-Muslim frenzy” and attacks at several mosques had the potential not only to tear apart the country, but also to undermine the reputation of America as a model of religious freedom and diversity.

Gen. David H. Petraeus warned on Tuesday that any video of Americans burning the Koran “would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan — and around the world — to inflame public opinion and incite violence,” endangering the lives of American soldiers.
In Gainesville, Florida, clergy members, academics and elected officials planned dozens of events to counter the plan to burn Korans, as planned by Pastor Terry Jones, starting on Wednesday with an interfaith prayer service.

“As Americans were are not—and never will be—at war with Islam”

Nine years after the terrorist attacks of 9/11; thousands packed the makeshift plaza alongside a construction site sprouting cranes and American flags on a crystal-clear morning for memorial and prayers services for the deceased. The names of the 3,000 victims were read while bells tolled at 8:46, the precise moment at which the first plane hit the north tower.

At the Pentagon, President Obama called for tolerance and said, “As Americans we are not — and never will be — at war with Islam,” as he addressed the ensuing debate over the construction of an Islamic Center near ground zero. During the ceremony, knots of protesters wandered the area, sometimes arguing. In the afternoon, a few blocks away, police officers and barricades separated demonstrations, both for and against the Muslim center, that each drew about 2,000 people.

The mosque debate pits advocates of religious freedom against critics who say putting an Islamic
center so close to ground zero disrespects the dead. While the rallies planned in New York embroiled victims’ family members in a feud over whether to play politics, a threat to burn copies of the Quran was apparently called off. The effects of which could be felt all the way in Afghanistan, where on Saturday shops and police checkpoints had been set afire as thousands of people protested the planned burning and chanted “Death to America” in Logar province. At least 11 people were injured Friday in similar protests in Badakhshan province.
In Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, cleric Rusli Hasbi told 1,000 worshipers at Friday prayers that whether or not Jones burns the Quran, he already has “hurt the heart of the Muslim world.”
Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who had announced, and then suspended, plans to burn copies of the Koran, arrived in New York on Friday seeking a meeting with Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam behind the proposed Muslim center. The pastor’s presence in the city, under police protection, only added to the day’s drama.

Nationally, speeches and memorial services were addressed a slew of national and international figures, ranging from former first lady Laura Bush to Michelle Obama. John R. Bolton, the former Unites States ambassador the UN, addressed a New York rally against the planned Muslim center via video, and Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician who tried to ban the Koran in his country, described Islam as an intolerant “power of darkness,” saying, “We must draw the line, so that New York, rooted in Dutch tolerance, will never become New Mecca.”

America’s History of Fear

A radio interviewer asked me the other day if I thought bigotry was the only reason why someone might oppose the Islamic center in Lower Manhattan. No, I don’t. Most of the opponents aren’t bigots but well-meaning worriers — and during earlier waves of intolerance in American history, it was just the same.

Screeds against Catholics from the 19th century sounded just like the invective today against the Not-at-Ground-Zero Mosque. The starting point isn’t hatred but fear: an alarm among patriots that newcomers don’t share their values, don’t believe in democracy, and may harm innocent Americans.

Fierce Opposition to a Muslim Cultural Center Near Ground Zero, Has American Muslims Asking: Will We Ever Belong?

Nine years after 9/11, Muslim Americans, feel scared not as much for their safety as to learn that the suspicion, ignorance and even hatred of Muslim is so widespread. The fierce opposition to the Muslim cultural center near ground zero, the knifing of Muslim cab driver in NYC, and other anti-Muslim sentiments has many American Muslims alarmed and questioning: “Will we ever be really completely accepted in American society?”
“They liken their situation to that of other scapegoats in American history: Irish Roman Catholics before the nativist riots in the 1800s, the Japanese before they were put in internment camps during World War II.” Amongst this growing tide of fear, various interfaith groups are calling for greater outreach. The Islamic Society of North America has planned a summit to convene a summit of Christians, Muslims, and Jewish leaders in Washington on Tuesday.
This year September 11 coincides with the celebration of Eid, the finale to Rmadan-and one of the major holidays of Muslims, has been dampened by the political climate. Some Muslim leaders have gone as far as to ask mosques to use the day to participate in commemorations events and community service so as not to appear as celebrating on the anniversary of 9/11.

From the Other Side of Ground Zero, Anti-Muslim Venom

Bill Keller, the internet evangelist, addressed a crowd of about 60 on Sunday at his temporary quarters of his Christian center near ground zero. Keller, stated “If we’re going to do something in New York City, we’re going to do something that’s not just bold and visible, but something that has a lasting presence.” Keller’s “9/11 Christian Center at Ground Zero” is his response to the mosque planned for an empty building nearby. Keller plans to hold weekly meetings at the temporary center, Marriott Downtown, until he moves into a permanent center on Jan 1, 2011. The location of his new permanent Christian Center will be disclosed on Oct 1, 2010, the funding of which he hopes to gain from donations.

Islamophobia Threatens Religious Freedom in America

Let’s be honest. Much of the controversy surrounding the so-called ground zero mosque is fueled by Islamophobia — a fear and loathing of Islam that is spreading rapidly in the United States.

Since 9/11, demonization of Islam has become a cottage industry in America, aided and abetted by some evangelical leaders and a growing number of politicians. Much like the anti-Catholic hysteria of the 19th century, the current outbreak of Islamophobia is based on the paranoid fantasy that Islam in America is a threat to democracy and freedom.

Landmark Commission Hearing May Determine Future of Ground Zero Mosque

By the CNN Wire Staff

New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission will hold a hearing Tuesday to decide whether a century-old building near ground zero is worth preserving. The hearing is expected to be contentious because if the commission rules the building is not worth landmarking, it will pave the way for a mosque and community center that has been planned there.

Quinnipiac University Poll Finds Most New Yorkers Oppose Ground Zero Mosque

By JILLIAN SCHARR

A majority of New Yorkers oppose plans to build a mosque and Muslim cultural center two blocks from Ground Zero, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released Thursday. Fifty-two percent of the respondents said they did not want the mosque to be built at all, 31 percent are in favor of it, and 17 percent are undecided.