Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tariq Ramadan Says Park 51 is Bad Idea, Imam Rauf Says Build It or Else

In a somewhat patronizing op-ed in the Washington Post, Tariq Ramadan asks Muslims to give America another chance because we're not that bad, even now:

"No doubt, it is the legitimate right of Muslims to build a community center near Ground Zero. Yet, I believe it is not a wise decision, considering the collective sensitivities in American society. This is a moment to go beyond rights and reach for the common good: To build it elsewhere, if possible, would be a sensible and symbolic move. Doing so does not mean we must accept the false premise that Islam is responsible for 9/11 ... ... as I watch not only the battle in New York but also the reaction to the Rev. Terry Jones's threat to burn the Koran in Florida on the Sept. 11 anniversary, I feel optimistic. We have seen Jewish and Christian representatives, as well as intellectuals and artists from across the political and religious spectrum, express support for the Islamic center because it would help bridge religions and citizens. These voices, in their diversity, represent both an evolution and an affirmation of America, and they must be heard and valued."

Imam Rauf, taking a leaf out of General Petraeus' book however, claimed in an interview with Larry King that not building the center at this location would no doubt cause a stir: "If we don't do this right, anger will explode in the Muslim world ... If we don't handle this crisis correctly, it could become something very dangerous indeed."

But I recall, the very wise words of Christopher Hitchens: "We may have to put up with the Rage Boys of the world, but we ought not to do their work for them, and we must not cry before we have been hurt."

Obviously, the jury is still out on what is the appropriate response. Even Roger Cohen at NYT expressed his reservations yesterday. There are so many agendas floating around and daily, it seems, the narrative changes. Yesterday, Donald Trump hinted at possible real estate games being played by the owner of the building -- that he's waiting for a huge offer to sell up and change locations. Me? I feel sorry for all those idealists who rushed to tarnish with Islamophobia anyone who had any discomfort with the plans -- it feels now as if they might've been betting on the wrong horse. On the other hand I also thought that to build there could be a great display of religious tolerance. I suspect, however, that nothing we do will ever please the Rage Boys, so we must do what we think is right. When we figure it out.

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