Qur’an Burnings and Manhattan Mosques

I haven’t commented until now on this “Ground Zero mosque” – a ridiculous misnomer invented to inflame prejudice, since it’s not at Ground Zero and it isn’t a mosque – because, honestly, I don’t think there’s much that needs to be said. America still has the First Amendment, it still has freedom of religion, and Muslims have the same rights as anyone to build their religious centers anywhere they want. Unless they’re directly advocating or planning violence, there’s nothing that the government or anyone else can do to stop them, and that’s as it should be.

The idea apparently motivating the resistance to Park51 is that Muslims bear some sort of collective responsibility for 9/11, which is absurd. Muslim Americans died on that day, along with the other victims, and al-Qaeda itself spends a great deal of time and effort killing other Muslims. There are violent undercurrents in Islam, ones which command the allegiance of a disturbingly large number of people, that must be fought – but that’s no basis for a blanket denial of all Muslim building projects, in Manhattan or anywhere else. (I would add that the compromise solution preferred by many politicians, namely to move the Park51 center a few blocks away, makes absolutely no sense. Why is a Muslim community center four blocks away more respectful than one that’s two blocks away? Is there an invisible line somewhere?)

On the subject of pseudocontroversies, I’m sure you’ve also heard about this Florida pastor who plans to burn copies of the Qur’an. He’s repeatedly changed his mind about whether to do it, and as of now the burning is off, but there are some things that should be said regardless.

First of all, the same comments as above apply: America has freedom of religion, which includes the freedom not to believe and even the freedom to treat other people’s holy symbols disrespectfully. This includes the freedom to treat wafers in ways Catholics dislike, to draw Mohammed even if others think we shouldn’t, and so on. Having freedom of religion means that religious beliefs are not encoded in state law. It’s ridiculous that so many Muslims have worked themselves into a frenzy about this. Did they not realize that Christians reject many of their beliefs?

That said, this doesn’t mean I’m fully behind this pastor’s deed. For one thing, many of his former parishioners describe him as a vicious, deceitful cult leader. But more importantly, the act of burning a book has historically been intended to convey the message: “Your ideas should be destroyed so that no one has a chance to read them.” I’m opposed to Islam as I am to every other religion, but I’m absolutely not in favor of destroying the Qur’an or any other book. Even when an idea is bad, I think it should be preserved so people can study it and recognize the fallacy, not eradicated so they can’t make up their own minds.

Even in the infamous wafer incident, PZ wasn’t doing it just to make Catholics mad. It was a protest against bullying, tyrannical religious groups who try to make everyone, including nonmembers, live by their rules – and he said so very clearly. Similar with the Mohammed cartoons: they weren’t a pointless provocation of Muslims, but a specifically pointed commentary on press freedom and intimidation – a protest aimed at religious theocrats who think their private beliefs should be binding on everyone. I see no such free-speech message in the Qur’an burning.

Whether it’s Muslims or Christians rioting in the streets, the Twin Towers burning or the Taliban in Afghanistan, the lesson from all these stories is the divisive effect that religion has on humanity. It encourages us to group people into Us and Other, to battle and hate each other over ultimately inconsequential differences. If we all had the well-being of our fellow humans as our highest goal, rather than the worship of invisible entities and obedience to arbitrary rules, there would be that much less reason for people and nations to fight one another.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Sarah Braasch

    You had to post this just as I was trying to tear myself away from DA.

    Love it. Love it all. Agree with everything.

    Well said.

  • Katie M

    “Where they burn books, they also burn people.”-Heinrich Heine

  • http://republic-of-gilead.blogspot.com Ahab

    Unfortunately, the religious divisions in this country are getting worse, and I fear that they will become even more inflamed as time goes on.

  • L.Long

    I would like to know why the coward xtian changed his mind.
    I’m against burning books on basic principles.
    But He was going to burn his books which is perfectly legal.
    I think he wimped out from pressure from others and fear of islame.

    But things are going from basic awful to down right dangerous with all these self-hating fundies getting pissed at each other and at the secularists.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Sharmin

    There are violent undercurrents in Islam, ones which command the allegiance of a disturbingly large number of people, that must be fought – but that’s no basis for a blanket denial of all Muslim building projects, in Manhattan or anywhere else. (I would add that the compromise solution preferred by many politicians, namely to move the Park51 center a few blocks away, makes absolutely no sense. Why is a Muslim community center four blocks away more respectful than one that’s two blocks away? Is there an invisible line somewhere?)

    Exactly. I am often disturbed by the fact that the people who really hate Muslims are the one’s speaking loudly while those offering secular criticism are ignored. Thanks for offering secular criticism without hate.

    I agree with you on the issue of the Qur’an burning. While I think they have every right, I think the message behind it matters. Their message is clearly one of hate. I think often that people who burn books (like the people who were burning the Harry Potter books, for example) make themselves look ridiculous, because they often haven’t read the book or offered some valid arguments against it. Personally, burning books disturbs me, and I wouldn’t do it, even if it was a book I really disagree with.

  • Demonhype

    @ L.Long:

    Me too, on the book-burning principle.

    I heard someone on Pharyngula say that his guy is more of an attention whore than anything else and had been expelled from some other congregation because his decisions were made more to get his face on the news or in the paper than anything else.

    So it might have just been a case of “here’s something that will get MY name on the lips of people all over the world!” And, of course, after that happened there wasn’t really any further need to continue. He got his attention, he got his name on the news everywhere, and since that’s all he wanted to begin with he can “take the high ground” and withdraw his Koran-burning Day. Why risk being physically assaulted by angry Muslims or otherwise harassed by the histrionics of American militarists blaming him personally for the inevitable failure of their splendid little war, not when his goal is already accomplished?

  • http://freedomfred.com/ Freedom Fred

    How far does freedom of religion goes? What if I were to wear a swastika in the presence of Jews? Not that I would ever do such a horrid thing, but how much freedom do we really have to abuse the religious symbols of various religions?

    I recall many years ago an art exhibit displayed in New York that depicted a Christian cross embedded in urine. There was a major outcry over it.

    It would appear that our freedom of expression only extends so far. And there are many double-standards. As you recall George Bush Sr. slamming us Atheists by stating that “Atheists don’t deserve to be citizens of this country.” There was NO public outcry over that statement, and George Bush went on to win the election.

    And so I find it ironic that we Atheists are defending religious expression especially to those religions that deeply despise us — both Christians and Islamics. They both are free to slam us; but if we dare speak out against them, we are “in the wrong”, as it were.

    And so I find myself with mixed views. On the one hand, I am all for the Freedom of others to chose what they wish to believe. On the other hand, those religions do NOT extend the same courtesy to us as we extend to them.

    And yet someone must initially put forth the olive branch. I guess another great irony is that it’ll have to be us!

  • bassmanpete

    And yet someone must initially put forth the olive branch. I guess another great irony is that it’ll have to be us!

    The trouble is that to extremists, putting forth the olive branch or offering to compromise is seen as a sign of weakness.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    We share the same sentiments Ebon. A lot of the people weighing in on this issue haven’t even visited the neighborhood and have no idea what they’re even talking about.

    I went down to the site last month, and while it is very close to the former Twin Towers site, Ground Zero is not even visible from the site of the proposed Park51 facility. It is also next door to a bar called the Dakota Roadhouse, and the next block over, Murray Street, is host to a New York Dolls strip club. The people behind Park51 certainly picked a challenging neighborhood for a Muslim gathering place.

    A lot of the people protesting the proposed community center don’t seem to realize that a mosque has been operating on Warren Street, just four blocks from the WTC, during all of these years since 9/11 and no one seemed to notice or care.

    As I wrote in the conclusion of my own post on this topic last month, if the Muslim community center does open, I will celebrate the occasion with a beer at the Dakota Roadhouse. You’re all welcome to join me.

  • TommyP

    I really don’t mind them building the cultural center. It will give people a convenient place to meet and protest religion while in the area. I think they should build a nice building and feel as welcome as possible in the neighborhood and share whatever they want of their culture, and get some other cultures shared with them as well. Personally, I’m hoping there’s a lot of people walking dogs and pigs nearby and showing some ankle. I hope a gay nightclub goes up across the street somewhere. I think it’s going to be very interesting to see who is going to be capable of living and letting live this time around. I hope America steps up and plays it’s A game: granting full rights and freedom along with endless poking and prodding at the bad ideas that are exposed due to such freedom. And backing people up when they have good ones, too!

  • Scotlyn

    This is a good post. One of the things that seem to be at stake here is the concept of who is, or is not, a “proper” American. The idea seems to go:

    1) 9/11 was an attack on America
    2) Muslims carried out that attack
    3) Muslims are not “real” Americans
    And what follows from that:
    4) Only “real” Americans are entitled to “American” rights as defined in the Constitution – denying such rights to Muslims therefore, somehow, doesn’t count.

    This is an idea which must be promptly knocked on the head by anyone who is serious about keeping those rights alive and well for all of us – remember the “first they came for the…” business.

    I also would be nervous of allowing the “hallowed ground” aspect of Ground Zero to take hold.

    Re the book burning, I find things to be disturbed about on both sides of this development.

    It is strange, is it not, that the media coverage of the pastor never refers to him in these terms – “radical extremist fundamentalist Christian pastor to burn Koran on 9/11″ – which would have been quite accurate, in fact. Such headlines would also serve to locate his actions firmly on the fringe where they belong – and which he is fully entitled to inhabit. But there seems to be an unwritten rule that words like “extremist” and “fundamentalist” and “radical” are reserved nowadays for Muslims.

    On the other hand I have followed some of the televised pronouncements by Muslim “community leaders” around the world, and many are to the effect that “we do not advocate violence, but we cannot be responsible for the actions of our members if this book is burned.” This kind of rhetoric was exactly what Paisley and his colleagues used to come up with in Northern Ireland. They liked to pretend they had no “military wing,” no connection to the loyalist paramilitaries, yet such threats of violence “we cannot be responsible for,” were never far from their lips. They are in effect saying – “I have this crazed bunch of lunatics that I’ve been keeping fed and muzzled, and I’m not afraid to use it.” I don’t say this lightly, but it is dangerous to be seen to cavil before such threats.

    I would feel a lot safer if I knew there was a lively debate taking place among Muslims right now as to whether it is not more appropriate to respond with anger (and violence) to the actual killings of Muslims which we (the US) are committing a daily basis (in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan), than to the burning of a book? They should rightly expect the world to have utmost respect for their lives, but I would love to know that some of them are pointing out to one another round about now, that it is not fair to expect the world to hold their book in the same regard, nor to give it greater importance than human life.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    Scotlyn, I pointed out in comments in other blogs and forums that the Taliban did far worse than what Pastor Jones did. In defiance of international pleas, the Taliban went ahead with their demolition of the Bamiyan Buddha statues, which were at least 1,300 years old and were structures of historical and cultural value. The Qurans that Pastor Jones wanted to burn were either purchased by himself or others with private money and were mere copies of the original that could easily be replaced. The Bamiyan statues, on the other hand, were the originals and were irreplaceable.

    I would feel a lot safer if I knew there was a lively debate taking place among Muslims right now as to whether it is not more appropriate to respond with anger (and violence) to the actual killings of Muslims which we (the US) are committing a daily basis (in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan), than to the burning of a book?

    Scotlyn, I think the reaction to the Quran burning is aggravated, particularly in Afghanistan and Pakistan, precisely because it takes place in the context of Muslim civilians getting killed in air and drone raids.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Interesting to see these two topics linked in a post. Some others have linked them, incorrectly.
    Gingrich urges moderation amid Quran-burning furor

    The Republican told ABC’s “Good Morning America” he believes “it’s wrong to burn the Quran and it’s wrong to build the mosque at Ground Zero, and both should be stopped.”

    Because building a community center and burning books are similar acts, I guess (?) Like Pastor Terry Jones, Gingrich is a media whore who will do or say anything to see his name in headlines.

    Looking past the question of the appropriateness of Jones’ Koran-burning, it’s interesting to see the reaction in some parts of the Islamic world, such as the near-riots in some parts of Afghanistan. Islam continues their practice of stepping into the punch by reacting violently to criticism.

  • http://Daylightatheism.org J. James

    Mr. FreedomFred, I agree that there is a double standard, and I happen to be in the painful position of being a conservative(non-libertarian) atheist, a rare species if ever there was one. I know how you feel, and just like every time you are in a debate or argument with some other force, you ALWAYS, always have to be the mature one. You don’t really have to say that there is a double standard, let others see it displayed all around you while you shoulder it with admirable dignity, never wavering from your principles. Let the religious be childish, stupid and violent. The masses will flock away from them and into our arms.

  • Stephen P

    There seems to have been remarkably little criticism of the role of the media in the Terry Jones case. He is an insignificant pastor of a tiny congregation. In a sane world he would hardly have received any attention outside of Florida – indeed outside of his own county. Yet the media, which seem to have utterly lost any ability or even desire to distinguish the important from the trivial, were all over him, and manufactured a controversy out of nothing. (The American media being the worst, but the European media far from innocent.) Does reasoned debate stand a chance while reporting is in the hands of journalists who are not worthy of the name?

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    There seems to have been remarkably little criticism of the role of the media in the Terry Jones case. He is an insignificant pastor of a tiny congregation.

    Stephen P, the problem is was that Muslim media outlets had picked up the story and were spreading it throughout the Muslim world irrespective of how the US media handled it.

    A lot of people in other parts of the world don’t seem to understand how freedom of expression works in the United States. I read an article in The Jakarta Post in which Indonesian President Yudhyono called on Barack Obama to “stop” the Quran burning, as if Obama had the authority to forcefully detain Pastor Jones.

    It creates an impression in the minds of Muslims overseas that America is a force for evil because we allow anything to go on in our country, even that which is against what they believe is sacred and holy, and that our interventions in Muslim countries are intended to spread the same thing in their lands.

  • Scotlyn

    Tommykey

    the Taliban went ahead with their demolition of the Bamiyan Buddha statues, which were at least 1,300 years old and were structures of historical and cultural value.

    I understand your point, and agree with your assessment of relative harms – in fact, I don’t think the burning of the Koran could cause actual (rather than imagined) harm at all, unless it was the last available copy and was being burned to take it out of circulation permanently. On the other hand, I don’t doubt that those proposing to carry out the burning were guaging to a very fine point exactly the sort of offence that would be caused to Muslim religious sensitivities.

    But the Taliban are hardly representative of the larger Muslim world – whereas Muslims everywhere do appear to feel this mystical bond with their scripture – so your comparison is somewhat of a red herring. And I often wonder about “X did worse things than Y” arguments – they are often advanced to distract attention from the Y which is under discussion, or to say that the fact of X renders a discussion of Y irrelevant or trivial.

  • Jormungund

    How far does freedom of religion goes?

    It stops only when you engage in actions that directly harm another person or their property. Deeply offending someone by your actions doesn’t count as a reason to place legal limits on them.

    What if I were to wear a swastika in the presence of Jews?

    There should be no legal impediment to that action. If someone physically attacked you for doing that, they would be legally and morally in the wrong.

    how much freedom do we really have to abuse the religious symbols of various religions?

    Absolutely unlimited freedom so long as the symbol in question is your own private property. Ie: if you buy a crucifix, there should be no legal impediment to you dunking it in urine if you choose to.

  • http://peternothnagle.com Peter N

    It is strange, is it not, that the media coverage of the pastor never refers to him in these terms – “radical extremist fundamentalist Christian pastor to burn Koran on 9/11″ – which would have been quite accurate, in fact. Such headlines would also serve to locate his actions firmly on the fringe where they belong – and which he is fully entitled to inhabit.

    But the commercial news media can’t say that, because it would be tantamount to saying “this story is unimportant”, even though any thinking person realizes that it is unimportant. They have to make every story “important” because their obligation to their shareholders is to deliver product (readers and viewers) to their customers (the advertisers). Any news outlet that had the journalistic integrity to call this story what it truly is, would soon go out of business, out-competed by a news outlet that did not have journalistic integrity.

    And, no, I can’t think of a solution to this problem.

  • Katie M

    @Jormungund-about having the legal freedom to wear a swastika, I’ve always found that odd. We defeated the Nazis in Germany and banned them. We saw what they did-they were inhuman monsters. Yet they’re tolerated here. I believe in freedom of speech, but there has to be a line drawn somewhere, right?

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    But the Taliban are hardly representative of the larger Muslim world

    I never said they were. But the violent protests against the threatened Quran burnings took place in Afghanistan, and as I wrote in my initial response to you, the agitation that took place there was in the context of the bombings that kill innocent Afghani civilians and the American military presence there.

  • http://kagerato.net kagerato

    It stops only when you engage in actions that directly harm another person or their property. Deeply offending someone by your actions doesn’t count as a reason to place legal limits on them.

    What is the moral difference between mental harm and physical harm? What degree of mental harm must be caused before it becomes a matter the law can address? These are not rhetorical questions.

    Any news outlet that had the journalistic integrity to call this story what it truly is, would soon go out of business, out-competed by a news outlet that did not have journalistic integrity.

    And, no, I can’t think of a solution to this problem.

    The solution is to stop watching, reading, and otherwise giving attention to corporate-owned media networks — and to encourage all of your friends and family to do the same.

  • Jormungund

    What is the moral difference between mental harm and physical harm? What degree of mental harm must be caused before it becomes a matter the law can address?

    I’m confused as to what ‘mental harm’ is in the context of other people’s actions offending you. Is a Catholic person weeping upon viewing a picture of a crucifix in urine or a consecrated wafer with nails driven into it mentally harmed? I have no idea what the limits of the law are on this matter. I would hope that the government does not even try to regulate people being offended and hurt feelings.

    I believe in freedom of speech, but there has to be a line drawn somewhere, right?

    There is a line drawn. You can’t call for violence or intentionally use lies to harm someone’s reputation. The former is a criminal matter and the latter can land you in civil court.
    Modern U.S. Nazis have the same freedom of speech and right to assemble that you and I do. Looking at the American Nazi Party’s website, I see that they have rallies planned and are exercising their rights. There should not be any legal opposition to that kind of extremely offensive behavior. No amount of saying ‘But look how wrong and offensive they are’ is a justification for restricting freedom of speech or the right to assemble.
    When it comes to restricting freedom of speech and the right to assemble, we need to keep in mind that we are a disliked minority. If we were ever foolish enough to let the general public pick and choose who gets 1st Amendment rights and who doesn’t, atheists would firmly be in the ‘doesn’t get freedom of speech’ category. However despicable you think modern U.S. Nazis are, there are people out there that think you and I are that despicable for not believing in their religion. They would love to rob us of our rights. So let’s take an ‘everyone gets freedom of speech no matter how much you hate them’ approach and be glad that it shields our rights just as much as it shields groups we hate.

  • AtheistPride

    You said, “Even when an idea is bad, I think it should be preserved so people can study it and recognize the fallacy, not eradicated so they can’t make up their own minds. ”

    I understand and agree with just about everything you said except for the line above. There has to be a different choice for a definition of symbolism in regards to burning a holy book that has zero chance of ever not existing, at least in this day. Perhaps 100 years from now the Quran and Bible may be relegated to a museum but at this time, there’s probably billions of these books in print. A little culling of that herd isn’t going to deprive anyone from learning about it.

  • DSimon

    Perhaps 100 years from now the Quran and Bible may be relegated to a museum but at this time, there’s probably billions of these books in print. A little culling of that herd isn’t going to deprive anyone from learning about it.

    It might well prevent at least one person from learning about it: whoever might’ve ended up with that particular copy of the Quran if it had remained intact.

    I agree with you that the actual censoring effect of burning a single book is so low as to be negligible. The message communicated by doing so is pretty potent, however.

  • archimedez

    On the legal aspect I think (i) the Islamic center should be allowed to go ahead and (ii) the pastor should be able to merely burn his own copies of the Quran on his own property (or the church’s). But I don’t think either projects are desirable.

    Ebonmuse wrote: “I haven’t commented until now on this “Ground Zero mosque” – a ridiculous misnomer invented to inflame prejudice, since it’s not at Ground Zero and it isn’t a mosque -”

    I don’t agree that the label is a ridiculous misnomer. The mainstream media has found a neat but slightly inaccurate label that can encapsulate the essential contentious point about the project, a label that can fit in headlines and soundbites. The proposed building is to contain a place for Muslims to worship. One may argue about whether this is technically, from an architectural standpoint, a mosque, but the basic definition of a mosque (masjid) is simply a place for Muslims to worship and perform prayers (or literally, and following the etymology, a place for sajada, prostration). The current space, in the old building, is already being used by Muslims as a mosque (and has been described as such), complete with Friday prayers and khutbas. As I understand it, the proposed new space on one of the floors of the proposed Islamic center will accommodate these (and more) Muslim worshipers. That is, it is an Islamic center that is reportedly to contain, among other things, a space intended for Muslims to worship and do prayers. I will cut the media some slack in their often simply calling this component of the larger complex a “mosque.” After all, the issue is not a technical one over the architectural definition of a mosque versus a Muslim prayer space.

    I don’t agree that the name was used to “inflame prejudice.” The proposed space is at least in close proximity to Ground Zero. Hence, in soundbites, headlines, and repeated phrasing, it would be impractical to say or write “The Muslim prayer space within the proposed Islamic center that is close to Ground Zero.” One can say “Ground Zero mosque” knowing it is a kind of short-hand notation. I don’t doubt that this is getting sensationalized in the media, but I don’t think the vast majority of people who use the phrase are trying to inflame prejudice.

    I also don’t agree that the phrase “Ground Zero” is so precisely defined and agreed upon that we can say this proposed Islamic center is not “at” Ground Zero. If we define Ground Zero as including the buildings struck by the aircraft, then the building in question (previously Old Burlington Coat Factory) is a part of Ground Zero because the landing gear and part of the fuselage of one of the aircraft crashed through the roof and two floors of the building, causing severe structural damage. Anyways, if Ground Zero is not a precise and widely-agreed upon spatial region, it seems inaccurate to call this a “ridiculous misnomer.”

    Even if we agree that the proposed Islamic center is not within the boundaries of a precisely-defined Ground Zero, it is still fair to say that the proposed site is near or in close proximity to Ground Zero. If that is the case, then it is still fair to say that the proposed Islamic center is “at” Ground Zero. American Heritage Dictionary online: “at…1. In or near the area occupied by; in or near the location of: at the market; at our destination. 2. In or near the position of: always at my side; at the center of the page…”

    From a NY Times article late last year, some background, which shows that Imam Rauf chose the close proximity to Ground Zero intentionally:
    “…There was no immediate sign of the fiery cataclysm that erupted overhead starting at 8:46. But out of a baby-blue sky suddenly stained with smoke, a plane’s landing-gear assembly the size of a World War II torpedo crashed through the roof and down through two empty selling floors of the Burlington Coat Factory.
    The Sept. 11, 2001, attack killed 2,752 people downtown and doomed the five-story building at 45 Park Place, two blocks north of the World Trade Center, keeping it abandoned for eight years.
    But for months now, out of the public eye, an iron gate rises every Friday afternoon, and with the outside rumblings of construction at ground zero as a backdrop, hundreds of Muslims crowd inside, facing Mecca in prayer and listening to their imam read in Arabic from the Koran.
    The building has no sign that hints at its use as a Muslim prayer space, but these modest beginnings point to a far grander vision: an Islamic center near the city’s most hallowed piece of land that would stand as one of ground zero’s more unexpected and striking neighbors.
    The location was precisely a key selling point for the group of Muslims who bought the building in July. A presence so close to the World Trade Center, “where a piece of the wreckage fell,” said Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the cleric leading the project, “sends the opposite statement to what happened on 9/11.”
    “We want to push back against the extremists,” added Imam Feisal, 61.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/09/nyregion/09mosque.html?_r=1
    By RALPH BLUMENTHAL and SHARAF MOWJOOD
    Published: December 8, 2009

    Hence, Rauf sees the proposed Islamic center’s close proximity to Ground Zero as a good thing. (At least, he was openly stating that, last December before the controversy erupted).

    To see where Rauf is coming from with this project, it is necessary to do a bit of background research on his views. Christopher Hitchens recently informed us that

    “Regarding President Obama, he {Rauf} advised that: “He should say his administration respects many of the guiding principles of the 1979 revolution {Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution in Iran}—to establish a government that expresses the will of the people; a just government, based on the idea of Vilayet-i-faquih, that establishes the rule of law.”
    Roughly translated, Vilayet-i-faquih is the special term promulgated by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to describe the idea that all of Iranian society is under the permanent stewardship (sometimes rendered as guardianship) of the mullahs.* Under this dispensation, “the will of the people” is a meaningless expression, because “the people” are the wards and children of the clergy. It is the justification for a clerical supreme leader, whose rule is impervious to elections and who can pick and choose the candidates and, if it comes to that, the results. It is extremely controversial within Shiite Islam. (Grand Ayatollah Sistani in Iraq, for example, does not endorse it.) As for those numerous Iranians who are not Shiites, it reminds them yet again that they are not considered to be real citizens of the Islamic Republic.
    I do not find myself reassured by the fact that Imam Rauf publicly endorses the most extreme and repressive version of Muslim theocracy. The letterhead of the statement, incidentally, describes him as the Cordoba Initiative’s “Founder and Visionary.” Why does that not delight me, either?”

    http://www.slate.com/id/2264770
    {my brackets}

    This is merely one example of several problems.

    Ebonmuse continues
    “…because, honestly, I don’t think there’s much that needs to be said. America still has the First Amendment, it still has freedom of religion, and Muslims have the same rights as anyone to build their religious centers anywhere they want. Unless they’re directly advocating or planning violence, there’s nothing that the government or anyone else can do to stop them, and that’s as it should be.”

    Legally, yes {i.e., as long as they are not plotting sedition or treason, etc., or engaging in other kinds of illegal activity). But there is still the issue of whether it is desirable for society, and so the task is persuasion, for or against the Islamic center being built in this location (or about anything about the center or those supporting or opposing it). As an atheist, I personally would not support the center, based on what I’ve read in reliable sources about the people involved, and from those people themselves. It is clear enough that Rauf supports sharia law. Unless the “interfaith” aspect of the center is extended beyond that (it currently seems to be limited to the so-called Abrahamic faiths) to include Muslim apostates, Islam critics, secular Muslims, Ahmadiyya Muslims, Baha’is, atheists, agnostics, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, etc., I can’t support it. Unless Rauf and others are going to use the center, with its many facilities such as an auditorium, etc., to invite not only moderate Muslim speakers but also speakers such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Taslima Nasrin, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Salman Rushdie, et al., I can’t support it or view it as desirable. Unless they are going to promote tolerance toward gays and lesbians, and campaign against blasphemy laws, and support the rights of Muslim apostates to leave Islam publicly with impunity, and support the right of Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men, and so on, I can’t support it. Unless the people involved in this project are going to frankly admit to the problems in Islamic doctrine (including the Quran and the example conduct of Muhammad), including those that inspire or justify terrorist acts, and to work to solve these problems, then I cannot support them. As long as they fail to do these things, they will continue to be part of the problem.

    Ebonmuse writes:
    “The idea apparently motivating the resistance to Park51 is that Muslims bear some sort of collective responsibility for 9/11, which is absurd.”

    It does not follow that opposing, disliking, finding undesirable or objectionable, what one has seen (and not seen) thus far from Rauf et al.’s proposal implies that all Muslims are responsible for 9/11. Of course, it would be absurd to suggest someone was responsible for 9/11 simply on the grounds that they are Muslim.

    Ebonmuse:
    “Muslim Americans died on that day, along with the other victims, and al-Qaeda itself spends a great deal of time and effort killing other Muslims.

    Some of the Muslims they kill they do not consider true Muslims; others they consider acceptable collateral damage by appealing to the doctrine that essentially tells them that Allah will save the souls of innocent (pious Muslim) slain incidentally “in the Cause of Allah” while casting all the non-Muslims into hell-fire.

    Ebonmuse continues
    “There are violent undercurrents in Islam, ones which command the allegiance of a disturbingly large number of people, that must be fought – but that’s no basis for a blanket denial of all Muslim building projects, in Manhattan or anywhere else.”

    Perhaps not denial from a legal perspective, but one can still argue against such projects in the way we (non-believers, atheists, skeptics, critics, etc.) normally argue against any other mosques, churches, centers, etc., that promote bad ideology or fail to correct bad ideology.

    Ebonmuse wrote
    “(I would add that the compromise solution preferred by many politicians, namely to move the Park51 center a few blocks away, makes absolutely no sense. Why is a Muslim community center four blocks away more respectful than one that’s two blocks away? Is there an invisible line somewhere?)”

    I agree, though again the building at Park51 was struck with the landing gear and fuselage of one of the planes, thus making it, to many people, a part of Ground Zero. That said, I don’t think the location is the key issue. It’s the fact that Rauf et al. have chosen this project in association with the event of 9/11, yet have (at least) failed to address the violent and intolerant aspects of Islam which inspired and which were used in the justification of the 9/11 attacks. I essentially agree with the point Sam Harris says here:
    http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/panelists/sam_harris/2010/08/silence_is_not_moderation.html

    On the Quran-burning, I think the media and politicians went overboard on the hype. Instead of essentially making the extremists’ talking points, they should have stayed out of it. There is no more reason to object to the burning of a mass-produced copy of the Quran than to the burning of a pulp fiction book; or of the recycling of a mass-produced Quran along with other used books. To endorse this nonsensical fear of burning the Quran is as absurd as an adult screaming hysterically, instead of giving a calm rational explanation, when a young child at night expresses a fear that the bogeyman is in the dark closet. The criticism should be primarily directed at those who have the superstitious beliefs about destroying mass-produced copies of the Quran and who believe that people should be killed for destroying or damaging the Quran. Innocent people have been stuck for years of their lives in jail, or worse, killed, over various kinds of Islamic hysteria about “damaging” or even touching inappropriately a Quran. Our politicians and media need to stop reinforcing this nonsense, which will only get worse if they continue to validate it.

    The pastor in question appeared to be trying to do something sensational to play on people’s emotions and draw attention to “radical Islam,” as he called it. Given the hysteria, this was obviously a bad choice. If he has something to criticize in the Quran, fine, let’s hear it, but the proposed burning of mass-produced copies of the Quran is a meaningless exercise that tells us nothing. (Of course, the pastor didn’t go through with it, not that that stopped the violent demonstrations, killings, and threats that went on anyway in response to the idea).

    The hypocrisy from some Muslims who were reportedly outraged by the proposed Quran-burning is readily shown by the fact that, according to Islamic doctrine, Muhammad burned the religious objects of worship (and these were not mass-produced easily-replaceable) of all the other religions when he conquered Mecca:
    “Ishaq, p. 552. (Conquest of Mecca. Muhammad destroys the polytheists’ idols).
    “When the apostle prayed the noon prayer on the day of the conquest he ordered that all of the idols which were round the Ka’ba should be collected and burned with fire and broken up. Fadala b. al-Mulawwih al-Laythi said commemorating the day of the conquest:
    ‘Had you seen Muhammad and his troops
    The day the idols were smashed when he entered,
    You would have seen God’s light become manifest
    And darkness covering the face of idolatry.’”

  • John Nernoff

    I didn’t have the time or patience to read all the comments here. I believe the bookburning idea was not to destroy “knowledge” (the Koran is not) but to protest the idea of Islam itself and its aggressive combative tone which egged on the radicals who destroyed to towers. For as long as there are “holy books” encouraging violence in the name of “God” there WILL BE violence. The Koran contains imperious inflammatory language in spades. But if freedom demands it be broadcast, so be it; watch your step.

  • Grumpy1942

    There is no question in my mind that Pastor Fucktard has every right to burn his own property. It is also correct that the act should be considered speech and protected. I have not seen any valid reason put forth by the objectors to the ceremony that would justify prohibiting or punishing the act.

    But I have not seen the concept of ‘fighting words’ discussed on any blog or article in the media. Any comments?

  • DSimon

    Archimedez, so you’re saying that you oppose the near-GZ mosque no more and no less than you oppose any other religious project or structure? If so, that seems reasonable to me.

  • http://kagerato.net kagerato

    Jormungund at #23 wrote:

    I’m confused as to what ‘mental harm’ is in the context of other people’s actions offending you. Is a Catholic person weeping upon viewing a picture of a crucifix in urine or a consecrated wafer with nails driven into it mentally harmed? I have no idea what the limits of the law are on this matter. I would hope that the government does not even try to regulate people being offended and hurt feelings.

    Some Catholics are mildly harmed by such “desecrations”, I would say. I’m not claiming that any government should regulate people’s offense and “hurt feelings”. Rather, I am asking where the difference begins between that and substantial, long-term mental harm.

    One response may be that the people who suffer severe mental trauma from the destruction of certain pieces of property are already in some sense, deluded or mentally ill. You can argue that, sure, and in some cases there will be evidence to think so. However, what I’m trying to get to the bottom of is why it seems more acceptable to atheists — including myself — to destroy or desecrate objects which the religious hold valuable but we do not, as in comparison to secular objects which everyone might hold in high regard. If one were to burn the Mona Lisa, for instance, that would cause a modest degree of mental harm to a lot of people. But what granted the Mona Lisa its high artistic value, other than a certain consensus among the people who have seen it? Do you have some means of assessing an objective value to it, or similar objects? Do you think it is only valuable because it is unique…?

    I don’t know the answers to these questions myself, though I’m interested in how they’re perceived and understood. Perhaps this matter ultimately reduces to a problem of “greater good”. That is, we must allow the desecration of powerful symbols in order to reduce authoritarian thought and prevent a collapse into a rigidly ordered society.

    @archimedez (#26):

    You’re setting an extremely high bar for Imam Rauf and supporters. I do not think those standards would be met by many of the churches in America, if it really came down to evaluating them. I had not heard anything in detail about the Imam supporting some or all of sharia law and would like to know by what evidence you claim this. Further, I do not find it strange that the Imam would support most or all of the guiding principles of the Iranian Revolution. For one, the revolution was seen locally as an overthrow of a tyrannical foreign government (the U.S. and Britain were chief backers of the Shah). Secondly, this Vilayet-i-faquih seems not nearly as radical a concept as Hitchens makes it out to be. This appears to be one more in a long line of authoritarian concepts promoted by all the world’s monotheistic religions. If you rephrased it into Christian terms, “ruling by the grace of God”, “building a kingdom for Jesus”, or so forth I would bet most Americans would not only support it but call it just.

    @John Nernoff (#27):

    Then I would expect you to be among the first on the front lines for the local Bible burning? That book also “encourages violence” in the “name of God” if its passages are read strictly. You do, but should not, conflate the actions of a sub-group with the actions of the larger whole.

  • archimedez

    DSimon,

    In principle, my opposition to this or any other religious project ought to be in proportion to the severity and extent of the problems in the substance of their program and how it interacts with society. I’m quite sure that there are mosques/Islamic centers worse than the one proposed near GZ, i.e., those that openly espouse terrorism, hatred against the infidels, hatred against gays and lesbians, etc. I’m quite sure that there are fire-and-brimstone-style churches which promote hatred against gays and lesbians, atheists, etc., that could be classed as more intolerant than the proposed GZ Islamic center. I also suspect there are churches, mosques, and other religious institutions and projects that are not as bad as the proposed GZ Islamic center.

    In practice, my response here of course is not based on a random sample. I’m responding to what I see, what’s available to me, in terms of information, in the regular sources of information I choose to attend to. This GZ mosque controversy is all over the media, is mentioned in Ebonmuse’s post here on a blog I like to read and comment on, so here you find my expression of criticism or opposition to the project based on what I’ve seen, heard, and read thus far.

    One thing that I find disturbing about the GZ Islamic Center project is that while it is touted to be a place of dialogue, peace, interfaith harmony, etc., additional information suggests that it may not be advertised. Moreover, a conception of “interfaith harmony” and “dialogue” that is limited to only a few select religions, and which excludes the non-religious altogether, is not helpful. (It is indeed counterproductive if Rauf continues with, and manages to some degree to enforce within his project, the restrictions on the criticism of Islam that he suggested during the so-called cartoon crisis). That Rauf et al. would use the event of 9/11 as an opportunity to oppose the “extremists,” but without tackling the problems within Islamic doctrine (Quran, Hadith, Sira) that inspire, and are used to justify, terrorism against and hatred of the infidel, is disturbing. Indeed, from what I’ve seen thus far, Rauf et al. appear to be trying to wallpaper-over these sorts of problems.

  • John Nernoff

    Kag to JN: Then I would expect you to be among the first on the front lines for the local Bible burning?

    N: Where did I say “burn ANY book”? Please quote me.

    Kag: That book also “encourages violence” in the “name of God”

    N: Yes it does. It indicates human stupidity and hostility. If these are merits of religion that need to be protected, I suggest a new look at religion itself and make adjustments. What they might be I cannot say right now. Certainly freedom of expression is of value. But freedom of inciting death and destruction is another thing, and Islam, the Koran and its associated trappings of Sharia (the subjugation women and death for apostasy) the Hadith and the Sunnah and the Sirah and all the other contrived boasting nonsense is a dangerous political enemy and little more.

    Kag: if its passages are read strictly. You do, but should not, conflate the actions of a sub-group with the actions of the larger whole.

    N: I’ll not take advice from you on how to think about this issue. I have read the Koran word for word and paid attention to Islamic activity around the world including the decades of hate and vicious bile spewed onto Jews and the West by “madrassas” and “Friday Prayers” and various foaming Imams and Ayatollahs. So we are not dealing with an innocuous saintly and submissive religion here despite all the politcally correct mouthings I find here in nodding lockstep.

  • bbk

    Archimedez, very insightful and impressive comments. I was about to relent – the onslaught of Christian fundy bigotry is in the mainstream media is enough to make me gag. To be a Muslim in NYC right now must feel kind of like being betrayed as an American. But when I read your comment, it did remind me that there is still a reasonable discussion to be had about this mosque. I will combine your information with Freedom Fred’s comment about our role as atheists.

    Not surprisingly at all, it really doesn’t look like the backers of this center care to be supported by the secular community. If they don’t want my support, then by all means I won’t be a voice in their defense. I’m really dumbfounded about how they plan to one up the terrorists. By convincing the terrorists that the Muslim faith will spread whether or not they terrorize and kill a lot of people? Or maybe the terrorists will stop feeling like they have to blow us up if the imam can convince them that he will convert a whole bunch of Christians and Jews? I mean, more power to them if they build a pretty building and gain membership, but I don’t buy the idea that they will really send any sort of message at all to Islamic terrorists.

  • Scotlyn

    The location was precisely a key selling point for the group of Muslims who bought the building in July. A presence so close to the World Trade Center, “where a piece of the wreckage fell,” said Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the cleric leading the project, “sends the opposite statement to what happened on 9/11.” “We want to push back against the extremists,” added Imam Feisal, 61.”

    Archimedez, when I read that I understood his “opposite statement” to mean something like “show we’re not at all like the other crowd – some of us don’t bomb people or fly planes into buildings, and this is a symbolic place to make that statement.” I do share your concern that this may not be said in perfectly good faith.

    Still on the substantive issue – I’m with Jormundgund – if we allow the rights of free assembly to be restricted to this group, then we cannot expect others to defend our rights to do the same.

  • archimedez

    Scotlyn,

    To be clear, we are in agreement on what Rauf intended. I do think, though, that he is speaking in good faith on this, i.e., that he sincerely believes that he is doing a good thing by making use of these aspects of the event of 9/11 and that particular building for the reasons he himself mentioned. I don’t think he had any intention of offending anyone or upsetting people. He seems very well-received by the media and politicians but he and they are on a completely different wavelength viz the ordinary American public on this issue. Everything I’ve read about him or heard from him thus far indicates to me that he is fully convinced of the greatness of Islam–its core texts, its history, its laws–and that this project will give him an opportunity to promote peace in Islamic terms. And seeing things through those rose-coloured glasses, and in his grandiose starry-eyed vision for the center, he can’t seem to accept that Islam in its currently unreformed state is part of the problem, including on the focal issue of Islam inspiring terrorist attacks.

    As I said, “On the legal aspect I think (i) the Islamic center should be allowed to go ahead.” We are in agreement on that. At the same time, I oppose, criticize, or disagree with all kinds of things, words, deeds, that are perfectly legal.

  • archimedez

    kagerato (Comment #30),

    You write:

    “You’re setting an extremely high bar for Imam Rauf and supporters. I do not think those standards would be met by many of the churches in America, if it really came down to evaluating them.”

    Expecting an organization, religious or otherwise, to promote tolerance toward gays and lesbians, and atheists, is not really asking much. Inviting the occasional atheist speaker to an event is not asking much. Shouldn’t this be easy for those claiming to be open and tolerant?

    You wrote:

    “I had not heard anything in detail about the Imam supporting some or all of sharia law and would like to know by what evidence you claim this.”

    1. He says he supports sharia.
    2. He’s written a book on sharia, telling Muslims the Islamic Quran- and Sunnah-based principles by which they should adhere to sharia.
    3. He’s written fluffy soft-sell articles in Huffington Post and the Washington Post extolling the virtues of sharia.
    4. He’s given his own critical opinions on a specific sharia ruling and recommended an alternative sharia ruling.
    5. He believes that critical expressions in the West about Islam that are contrary to sharia should be blocked or stopped in whatever ways Muslims are able to feasibly stop them.
    6. He admires Qaradawi, who supports a harsh sharia including the death penalty for apostasy, death penalty for homosexual acts, etc.
    7. He admires Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution, which instituted one of the harshest and most extensive implementations of sharia in the modern world (death penalty for public apostasy, death penalty for anyone in any country of the world who criticizes Islam or Muhammad, death penalty for homosexuality, death penalty for adultery; reestablishing the law that states that men can marry girls who are as young as nine years old thus following the example of Muhammad, etc.). Public expressions of dissent are brutally quashed. Women are forced to adhere to a dress code and are beaten if they don’t follow it. The Islamic Revolutionary regime is also a major source of terrorism. The country is, ultimately, a theocracy where the Ayatollahs have the final say.
    8. He admires Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Qayyim, classical Muslim scholars with some of the harshest views available in Islam.
    9. He is developing a “Sharia Index” to measure how “well” a particular country is conforming to sharia in its laws etc.
    10. He specifically supports sharia law in the West, as shown in his comments of approval about sharia courts in England. He has referred to America as “sharia-compliant.”

    Excerpts:

    From Ibn Warraq on Rauf {my brackets added}:
    http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/246268/one-imam-multiple-messages-ibn-warraq
    Ibn Warraq
    September 13, 2010 4:00 A.M.
    One Imam, Multiple Messages
    “{…} Rauf writes, “The addition of Sharia law to ‘the law of the land’, in this case British law, complements, rather than undermines, existing legal frameworks. The Archbishop was right. It is time for Britain to integrate aspects of Islamic Law. {…} Sharia law is unequivocally clear that Muslims who live as minorities in non-Muslim majority communities are required to abide by the law of the land. That doesn’t prevent British Muslims from practicing aspects of Sharia that don’t conflict with British law {…} or from seeking changes in British law.”

    From Rauf:
    http://onfaith.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/panelists/feisal_abdul_rauf/2009/04/time_to_update_islamic_law.html
    How Islamic Law Can Work
    “Rather than fear Shariah law, we should understand what it actually is. Then we can encourage Muslim countries to make the changes that achieve the essence of fairness and justice that are at the root of Islam.”
    By Feisal Abdul Rauf | April 23, 2009; 8:16 AM ET

    From Rauf’s beer fatwa:
    http://onfaith.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/panelists/feisal_abdul_rauf/2009/07/is_six_lashes_for_drinking_beer_a_quranic_injunction.html
    Six Lashes for Drinking Beer?
    “Malaysian Syariah {Sharia} authorities should reconsider the law on consuming alcohol, which is described in the Quran in the mildest language of prohibition.
    {…} The Quranic and Prophetic teachings are about forgiveness, compassion and positive personal transformation. Sura 48:29 describes Prophet Mohamed’s companions as “firm against unbelievers and compassionate to themselves”, and this is what I urge the Malaysian authorities to exemplify: show compassion to Kartika and forgive her.”
    By Feisal Abdul Rauf | July 29, 2009; 1:10 PM ET
    {Rauf recommends a lesser penalty (equivalent of about a $1650.00 (U.S.) fine) for a lady whose crime was merely drinking a beer!}, not abandonment of sharia}

    Rauf on freedom of expression re Danish Muhammad cartoons, Sudan teddy bear “crisis,” and Geert Wilders’ (at the time merely proposed) movie Fitna:
    http://onfaith.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/panelists/feisal_abdul_rauf/2008/03/early_warning_system_for_xenop.html
    Early Warning System for Xenophobia
    “Learning from the Danish cartoon crisis of 2006 and the Sudanese teddy bear debacle of 2007, the Dutch are preparing to preempt a Geert Wilders-inflicted pandemic of 2008. This preemptive approach seems to be paying off; reversing what looked like an inevitable widening of rifts between the West and the Muslim World. The Netherlands now know that outbreaks of xenophobia must be treated as any other pandemic threatening a population. In preparation for the outbreak, an early warning system must be established and at onset, one must quickly quarantine the ideological disease before it spreads further. With Wilders, the need for preparedness was great.
    At the highest levels of government, the preemptive media response was palpable and powerful. The Dutch Foreign Minister stood by the right to free speech while putting reasonable parameters on the proviso, saying “freedom of expression doesn’t mean the right to offend”. The Dutch Interior Minister warned media companies against broadcast, noting the repercussions globally, saying “a broadcast on a public channel could imply that the government supported the project”. Even the Dutch Embassy in Washington D.C. categorically condemned the content. But most impressive, was the showing by Amsterdam’s mayor Job Cohen, who is Jewish, saying flatly that Wilders was “dehumanizing Muslims”.”
    By Feisal Abdul Rauf | March 5, 2008; 3:36 PM ET

    Rauf:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/imam-feisal-abdul-rauf/obamas-challenge-to-the-m_b_211838.html
    Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf
    Chairman, Cordoba Initiative
    Posted: June 5, 2009 01:40 PM
    Obama’s Challenge to the Muslim World
    {In this article, Rauf praises Obama’s so-called speech to the Muslim world}
    “By embracing Islam in the peacemaking process, Obama has laid down a challenge to Muslims. Live up to the tenets of our religion, embrace Shariah law as conceived by the Prophet, and see what happens.”

    Rauf:
    http://www.commongroundnews.org/article.php?id=25141&lan=en&sid=1&sp=0
    “In the Muslim world, when someone has a grievance and says, “There ought to be a law!” they know that there is one. All the law that a Muslim needs is in the Qur’an and the Hadith, sayings of the Prophet Muhammad.

    Rauf:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/imam-feisal-abdul-rauf/what-shariah-law-is-all-a_b_190825.html
    What Shariah Law Is All About
    Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf
    Chairman, Cordoba Initiative
    Posted: April 24, 2009 12:53 PM
    “Rather than fear Shariah law, we should understand what it actually is. Then we can encourage Muslim countries to make the changes that achieve the essence of fairness and justice that are at the root of Islam.”

    Rauf:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/imam-feisal-abdul-rauf/religion-must-be-part-of_b_313409.html
    “The United States has a moral responsibility to the people of Afghanistan. It is a responsibility to help them use the basic moral underpinnings of Islam to promote a free and democratic society.
    {…} Nearly all of the Afghan population believes in the basic tenets of Islam. It is the central focus of their lives.
    So how can religion be part of the solution?
    We must understand that Islam itself is not the enemy — only the misguided interpretation of Islam on one hand and the incomplete application of its principles that has led to corruption and insecurity on the other.
    Six objectives underlie Islamic law. It must protect life and provide security. It must promote personal dignity and justice. It must protect religion, including the freedom to choose religion. It must protect property and to help people economically by providing a safety net. It must preserve the family. And it must protect and enhance the mind through intellect and sobriety, which is counter to the narcotics trade, now Afghanistan’s major income producer.”
    “Our message to the Afghan people should be that we understand these six objectives of their own law, and our focus will be to help them build their government around these principles. This would win their hearts and minds. And other Muslim countries should be brought in as part of the alliance that will develop an overall political, economic, military and religious strategy.
    We do have a moral responsibility — not to mention a strategic interest — in not abandoning the Afghan people. Now we must engage religion to be part of the solution.”

    One of Rauf’s books:
    http://www.sharaaz.com/index.php3?menu=describe&table=Book&cat=Books&id=b00121p&language=&associate=
    Islam, A Sacred Law – What Every Muslim Should Know About Shariah
    by Feisal Abdul Rauf

    More background on Rauf’s views:
    http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2010/09/imam_feisal_rauf_sharia_uber_a.html
    September 06, 2010
    Imam Feisal Rauf — Sharia Uber Alles!
    Andrew G. Bostom

    September 13, 2010
    Imam Feisal Rauf and ‘Islamic Revival’
    Andrew G. Bostom
    http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2010/09/imam_feisal_rauf_and_islamic_r.html

    You wrote:

    “Further, I do not find it strange that the Imam would support most or all of the guiding principles of the Iranian Revolution. For one, the revolution was seen locally as an overthrow of a tyrannical foreign government (the U.S. and Britain were chief backers of the Shah). Secondly, this Vilayet-i-faquih seems not nearly as radical a concept as Hitchens makes it out to be. This appears to be one more in a long line of authoritarian concepts promoted by all the world’s monotheistic religions. If you rephrased it into Christian terms, “ruling by the grace of God”, “building a kingdom for Jesus”, or so forth I would bet most Americans would not only support it but call it just.”

    Your comment is surreal. Let me know when Americans want to start stoning adulterers, hanging homosexuals, executing or imprisoning apostates and critics, and so on.

  • Rollingforest

    To me, for someone to be bigoted against religion, they must A. exaggerate or lie about the religion’s teachings or B. suggest that all followers of the religion are the same. If you avoid doing these things then your criticism is valid.

  • bbk

    Rollingforest, my definition would be a lot more qualified than yours.

    A. The problem here is that religious teachings superimpose multiple messages. They talk about love and then they say god is on their side so kill the other guy. We’re talking about systems of movable goal posts and dog whistles. In this case, we need something analogous to Big-O notation for religion and we have to treat the average and worst case outcomes as equally valid. While the average outcome of most religious teaching is the same, some religions have a far worse worst case than others.

    B. Continuing with my analogy, a mathematician will never tell you that if a function behaves differently under different conditions then it means that that same function is really two different functions (unless it’s a composite function, but I digress). On the other hand, apologists say that sort of stuff all the time. They’re all Muslims, except they’re not because look at the results, which is proof that those other Muslims weren’t the real Muslims (they were atheists masquerading as Muslims, obviously!).

    So to me, a religious bigot is someone who has to demonstrate ignorance about either the religion he is attacking, his own religion (as if it were any better?), or both. The reason for his hatred has to be irrational and tribal. More importantly, he has to be willing (through his ignorance) to inflict measurable harm to others and treat them in ways that would make him scream like a banshee were the shoe to land on the other foot.

  • bbk

    Rollingforest, my definition would be a lot more qualified than yours.

    A. The problem here is that religious teachings superimpose multiple messages. They talk about love and then they say god is on their side so kill the other guy. We’re talking about systems of movable goal posts and dog whistles. In this case, we need something analogous to Big-O notation for religion and we have to treat the average and worst case outcomes as equally valid. While the average outcome of most religious teaching is the same, some religions have a far worse worst case than others.

    B. Continuing with my analogy, a mathematician will never tell you that if a function behaves differently under different conditions then it means that that same function is really two different functions (unless it’s a composite function, but I digress). On the other hand, apologists say that sort of stuff all the time. Any deviation from the Utopic outcome all but guaranteed by their vision only means that someone didn’t understand or didn’t completely follow the one True interpretation. They’re all Muslims, except they’re not because look at the results, which is proof that those other Muslims weren’t the real Muslims (they were atheists masquerading as Muslims, obviously!). All of this forces one question to be asked: what other teachings can be so perversely misunderstood so often, by so many, so as to cause a seemingly perpetual strife? I don’t see Hawkings trying to strangle Thorne over a black hole. It’s religion.

    So to me, a religious bigot is someone who has to demonstrate ignorance about either the religion he is attacking, his own religion (as if it were any better?), or both. The reason for his hatred has to be irrational and tribal. More importantly, he has to be willing (through his ignorance) to inflict measurable harm to others and treat them in ways that would make him scream like a banshee were the shoe to land on the other foot.

  • Scotlyn

    Archimedez, thanks for all the links – it is an eye-opener. I definitely think we need to educate ourselves about sharia and about those who are proposing to introduce it to our democracies.

  • http://kagerato.net kagerato

    Well, archimedez, count me as surprised and grateful for all the sourced information.

    Nonetheless, many of these statements do not seem as radical to me as they (clearly) do to you. The points on imposing theocratic rule are well-taken and disturbing in their own sense. However, I have heard many times exactly this same kind of talk from Christians. Messages about how we must return to the fundamentals, receive a proper vision or understanding of Biblical law, that we are a Christian nation, that morality and all proper behavior is derived from divine guidance, that we must “take care of our own”.

    These are very typical and common messages to me. They’re very much in the mainstream, and I don’t see it any differently because one speaker belongs to one religion and one to another. That doesn’t mean their viewpoint is any less wrong or any less poorly reasoned. Merely this: one standard is given to churches in America and another is given to mosques.

    Expecting an organization, religious or otherwise, to promote tolerance toward gays and lesbians, and atheists, is not really asking much. Inviting the occasional atheist speaker to an event is not asking much. Shouldn’t this be easy for those claiming to be open and tolerant?

    No, it’s not asking much at all. But did anyone try to show up and get turned away? Did anyone request an invitation? Genuine cooperation requires both sides to try.

    Your comment is surreal. Let me know when Americans want to start stoning adulterers, hanging homosexuals, executing or imprisoning apostates and critics, and so on.

    What is surreal to me is your narrow view of history. You do realize that in this country we have in fact executed adulterers, viewed homosexuality as an illness to be ‘treated’ with reverse-hormone therapies and lobotomies, and executed ideological critics, I hope?

    More importantly, I’d like to carefully note that none of the information you presented actually has the Imam advocating for the execution of anyone. The Bible recommends the death penalty for gays, too, but you don’t see many theocratic Christians demanding anyone’s execution, do you? This is important. You can’t just gloss over people’s actual views and actions by saying “he or she supports Q in the general, therefore they must support X, Y, and Z in the particular”. There is such thing as nuance and distinction.

    Or, if I’m mistaken, feel free to point out acts of violence the Imam (or his close allies) have perpetrated or advocated for.

  • archimedez

    kagerato,

    You wrote:

    “Nonetheless, many of these statements do not seem as radical to me as they (clearly) do to you.”

    I’m not sure exactly what you are talking about. Identify the Rauf statements I’ve quoted or highlighted that you think are (a) not “radical” and (b) which you think I think are “radical.” Also define what you mean by “radical” here.

    “However, I have heard many times exactly this same kind of talk from Christians.”

    What kind of talk and in reference to what? I was responding to what you said, viz theocratic rule and religious law under the Iranian regime, where you had said:
    “If you rephrased it into Christian terms, “ruling by the grace of God”, “building a kingdom for Jesus”, or so forth I would bet most Americans would not only support it but call it just.”

    Your comment refers to American Christians today, and this is what I meant was surreal, because you are trying to equate this with what the Iranian regime and its supporters would mean by use of similar terms. What most Christians in America would mean by those terms does not include killing blasphemers, apostates, homosexuals, etc. The Hitchens quote of Rauf (which is also mentioned by Ibn Warraq in the link I provided) refers to a brutal theocracy that was brought into place in Iran. The percentage of Americans who would want anything like this is minuscule. But you disagree. Fine. Cite me the statistics that show that most American Christians today want an Iranian-style theocracy, complete with death penalty for blasphemy, apostasy, homsexuality, and adultery.

    You write:
    “They’re very much in the mainstream, and I don’t see it any differently because one speaker belongs to one religion and one to another.”

    Nonsense. I was referring to the substance of the theocratic rule. You are focusing on the superficialities of the wording to try and equate “mainstream” American Christians with the Iranian Islamist regime. This is absurd.

    You wrote:
    “one standard is given to churches in America and another is given to mosques.”

    Not true. In this conversation, I apply the same standard of morality to both the mainstream American Christians you identify and the Iranian regime. By this standard, on this scale, the Iranian regime is far worse.

    You wrote:
    “No, it’s not asking much at all. But did anyone try to show up and get turned away? Did anyone request an invitation? Genuine cooperation requires both sides to try.”

    My point there, in response to your original accusation that I was asking too much or setting the bar too high, was simply that you were wrong and that I was really not asking much to include atheists and gays and lesbians, for examples. I’m glad that you now agree.

    It is interesting that you are now claiming the onus for including the important excluded groups is not only on the Cordoba project people, but on the excluded groups. You now suggest they must just show up unannounced (?) or request an invitation.

    I have pointed out a few of the minimal conditions (among others) that would lead me to change my views on the Cordoba center. If they meet those conditions, and other minimal and reasonable conditions, I will change my opinion on the project and will support it. Sam Harris has made a similar point in the article I linked to. Of course, however reasonable we think our suggestions, I do not realistically expect Rauf et al. to include gays and lesbians and atheists and apostates, and a tolerant attitude toward them, in their programming.

    So while I have not literally asked for an invitation to the Cordoba center, I have asked that Sam Harris, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Taslima Nasrin, et al., be invited to speak there. I’ve expressed that idea right here in a public forum.

    I’m not optimistic about their response. But if you disagree, and if you believe what you say, then you should contact the folks at the Cordoba project and request that well-known apostates and atheists and gay/lesbian rights activists be invited to speak and that they promote tolerance toward apostates and atheists and gays/lesbians.

    You wrote:
    “What is surreal to me is your narrow view of history. You do realize that in this country we have in fact executed adulterers, viewed homosexuality as an illness to be ‘treated’ with reverse-hormone therapies and lobotomies, and executed ideological critics, I hope?”

    Nonsense. You are changing the subject matter and then accusing me of having “a narrow view of history”. We are talking about the present. We are (or were) talking about a comparison on the levels of, and levels of support for, theocratic rule, between what most American Christians believe and what the Iranian regime which is currently in place is actually doing. Viewing homosexuality as an illness is certainly something that is worthy of criticism and should be opposed [even so, killing them is worse], as are any executions of mere adulterers or ideological critics that were carried out historically by the American government.

    “More importantly, I’d like to carefully note that none of the information you presented actually has the Imam advocating for the execution of anyone. The Bible recommends the death penalty for gays, too, but you don’t see many theocratic Christians demanding anyone’s execution, do you? This is important. You can’t just gloss over people’s actual views and actions by saying “he or she supports Q in the general, therefore they must support X, Y, and Z in the particular”. There is such thing as nuance and distinction.”

    Once again, you introduce a new request, and then you in effect retroactively blame me for not anticipating this new request. Rauf supports sharia, which was the point I was addressing. I was not addressing the issue of whether he could be quoted directly demanding someone’s execution. But he does support the people who I mentioned who have very harsh views, including Qaradawi and the Iranian regime, and both recommend the execution of homosexuals and public apostates.

    Secondly, you are making an accusation saying that I am glossing over Rauf’s views and actions and drawing unwarranted conclusions. I have read Rauf’s views in detail. Every empirical claim I’ve made about him is backed up with evidence.

    “Or, if I’m mistaken, feel free to point out acts of violence the Imam (or his close allies) have perpetrated or advocated for.”

    That (recommending violence) is not really his style, nor did I claim he was recommending acts of violence. I’m not sure what you mean by close allies, but Qaradawi and (the late) Tantawi, both of whom Rauf praised, support Palestinian suicide bombers. He has also praised Gomaa, who argues that public apostates should be executed.

    p.s. before I dig up any more information in response to your requests, out of fairness I’m going to request something from you. Provide me with the empirical evidence that shows that “mainstream” American Christians want a theocratic rule of the type under the Iranian regime currently, complete with execution of adulterers, homosexuals, public apostates, and blasphemers. If you cannot, then please modify or qualify your claims accordingly.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    If they have legal possession of the land, and the appropriate zoning and permits, I don’t see singling them out fair; and if the government changes the requirements in response to the religious views of the Imam, a good case would be established for a violation of the Establishment Clause.

    The best disinfectant is sunlight, of which you’ve shed quite a bit, Arch. But I’m deeply uncomfortable with selling the principles of the Constitution in response to what is almost certainly a temporary, and not existential, threat — if it’s even that.

    I don’t see sharia gaining traction in America, exactly because it’s Islamic. Why throw away a vital freedom in such a useless cause, when we can effectively combat it simply by letting everyone see what it entails?

  • bbk

    Archimedes, I think you and kagerato aren’t on the same page. Kagerato is equating Rauf’s rhetoric with Christian rhetoric, which in all honesty sound a lot alike. You’re pointing out the actual reality of what Rauf is endorsing when one gets past the superficiality of the rhetoric. From everything that you’ve pointed out, it seems that Rauf wants to gloss over any tangible definition of sharia or terms such as justice and fairness. He seems to imply that we can have a democratically enforced theocracy and if only everyone believes in it hard enough and in all the right ways then no one would get hurt. From the best that I can decipher, he seems to be dangling the idea that if only atheists would understand that killing atheists is a fair and beautiful thing to do then they too would see sharia as a perfect system that solves everyone’s problems.

  • http://Daylightatheism.org J. James

    I feel you, Grumpy1942. I’m torn between my distaste for that flaming retardlet of a pastor, and his right to do the(debatably) right thing for all the wrong reasons. I wouldn’t burn the Koran, that’s for stupid people. No, I would eviscerate it, and to an extent the bible as well. Ah, if only I was eloquent enough to shatter Islam with a few pages…! I would blaspheme the shit outta the thing. I would point out in exhaustive detail all the evil, the irrationality, but it would take DAYS. I would tear into it so bad they would bar me from running for senate. THAT’S how it should be done.

    None of this religion-vs.-religion nonsense.

  • archimedez

    Thumpalumpacus,

    “The best disinfectant is sunlight, of which you’ve shed quite a bit, Arch. But I’m deeply uncomfortable with selling the principles of the Constitution in response to what is almost certainly a temporary, and not existential, threat — if it’s even that.”

    We are agreed on the legal issue. All kinds of things are legal, and which should remain legal, but which are not desirable upon closer scrutiny. We don’t arrest people or ban them for merely advocating sharia, or for quoting principles from the Quran whereby Muslims are supposed to be harsh against the unbelievers, and other such statements. So let’s shed that sunlight, ask questions, and investigate.

    bbk,

    “Archimedes, I think you and kagerato aren’t on the same page.”

    I think you’re right. I look forward to kagerato’s response or clarification, if any.

    “From the best that I can decipher, he seems to be dangling the idea that if only atheists would understand that killing atheists is a fair and beautiful thing to do then they too would see sharia as a perfect system that solves everyone’s problems.”

    From what I’ve read, I don’t think Rauf would go that far. He does appear to indirectly support an intolerant attitude toward non-believers, but his style is to avoid having to say things like that and he hasn’t really been pressed on those sorts of questions. His problem regarding the harsh interpretations of Islam seems to be in the conspicuous-failure-to-condemn category. He praises people like Qaradawi, or the Iranian regime, but, despite commenting on them, doesn’t condemn their highly objectionable views and policies. Why not? Other moderate Muslims do criticize such people, policies, and regimes, perhaps because to them there are salient and important reasons for objecting. What’s different between Rauf and these other moderate Muslims?

  • http://kagerato.net kagerato

    bbk’s assessment of this discussion is spot on. I don’t know whether I should call it a discussion, when we’re talking past each other, though.

    I’m not sure exactly what you are talking about. Identify the Rauf statements I’ve quoted or highlighted that you think are (a) not “radical” and (b) which you think I think are “radical.” Also define what you mean by “radical” here.

    I did quite explicitly identify sentiments I saw as “not radical”. Did you begin responding before you had read my full post…?

    As to the second part, there is no responsible way in which I can declare your own views for you. I don’t know what you think is radical. If I completely understood your view, why would I have bothered to reply in such a manner?

    Asking me to define common words… Radical; “thoroughgoing or extreme, especially as regards change from accepted or traditional forms”.

    Your comment refers to American Christians today, and this is what I meant was surreal, because you are trying to equate this with what the Iranian regime and its supporters would mean by use of similar terms. What most Christians in America would mean by those terms does not include killing blasphemers, apostates, homosexuals, etc. The Hitchens quote of Rauf (which is also mentioned by Ibn Warraq in the link I provided) refers to a brutal theocracy that was brought into place in Iran. The percentage of Americans who would want anything like this is minuscule. But you disagree. Fine. Cite me the statistics that show that most American Christians today want an Iranian-style theocracy, complete with death penalty for blasphemy, apostasy, homsexuality, and adultery.

    I am not equating the actions of the Iranian regime, or any theocratic or totalitarian regime anywhere, with the actions of American Christians today. You completely misread and misunderstood that.

    I am equating large chunks of their rhetoric, and what some of them say they wish to achieve. I don’t believe that many of those who say they want rule by Biblical law genuinely understand what that entails or what consequences would result if practiced in full. Likewise, I don’t believe that many of the adherents to Sharia and other theocratic codes appreciate or recognize the sorts of barbaric behavior the text explicitly promotes. Though if you were to describe it in terms completely distinct from religion, theocracy, or government generally, I do think they would be able to recognize it as barbaric.

    Would you re-read my post and note that nowhere did I claim that “most American Christians today want an Iranian-style theocracy, complete with death penalty for blasphemy, apostasy, homosexuality, and adultery”? My problem, and the reason why this becomes an issue, is that you seem to think most Iranians (or most Muslims, perhaps?) want such a government. I did not see any poll or statistic of any kind on that, and even if you could find one, I doubt it would be valid. You can’t take a fair poll in a society where dissenting views are not respected, where they may be some notable punishment for giving the “wrong” answer. So long as some forms of thought are oppressed, you can’t get a good viewpoint of what the people want from within the society itself.

    Nonsense. I was referring to the substance of the theocratic rule. You are focusing on the superficialities of the wording to try and equate “mainstream” American Christians with the Iranian Islamist regime. This is absurd.

    I wasn’t addressing the substance of the theocratic rule of any country.

    We’re in perfect agreement that theocracy is a very bad principle to build or run a country on. Indeed, any form of authoritarian thought is a terrible principle to build or run a country with.

    It is interesting that you are now claiming the onus for including the important excluded groups is not only on the Cordoba project people, but on the excluded groups. You now suggest they must just show up unannounced (?) or request an invitation.

    Responsibility is always shared in cases like this. Trying to push the entire burden onto the builders of a center or new community to “include important excluded groups” is silly. They can’t include such groups if they don’t receive recognition that they want to be included. Someone first has to stand up and say “hey, over here, I exist”. Or did you mention someone who had, or some particular person or group who was being excluded from discussions on the center’s progress and goals?

    So while I have not literally asked for an invitation to the Cordoba center, I have asked that Sam Harris, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Taslima Nasrin, et al., be invited to speak there. I’ve expressed that idea right here in a public forum.

    Convenient that these little comment threads out in the wilderness of the internet won’t be read by anyone actually involved with the center’s construction or goals. Take your concerns directly to someone who can hear them, not random people responding to your comments.

    I’m not optimistic about their response. But if you disagree, and if you believe what you say, then you should contact the folks at the Cordoba project and request that well-known apostates and atheists and gay/lesbian rights activists be invited to speak and that they promote tolerance toward apostates and atheists and gays/lesbians.

    You’re not optimistic about the center or its leaders at all. You’ve made that abundantly clear.

    By suggesting that I should contact the project, you’re misunderstanding my views again. I don’t believe the project is excluding anyone’s viewpoint from being heard. Therefore, why would I feel impetus to take to action?

    Do you believe that agnostics, atheists, gays and lesbians, and so forth will be excluded from entering or using the center when or if it is completed? You realize the site is in New York, right?

    Nonsense. You are changing the subject matter and then accusing me of having “a narrow view of history”. We are talking about the present. We are (or were) talking about a comparison on the levels of, and levels of support for, theocratic rule, between what most American Christians believe and what the Iranian regime which is currently in place is actually doing.

    The subject matter is the same; I merely lengthened the time frame substantially. You decided only to speak of the present; I found this lacking and decided to provide the context of the past. Do you not understand why I did so? It was to show that great progress is possible in a relatively short period of time.

    Again, you misunderstood my statements as somehow equating words and actions. Not so.

    Furthermore, why is it that you keep implying that all (most?) supporters of sharia are also supporters of the current Iranian theocracy? That claim needs evidence, and again, I don’t think polls can show it.

    The big purpose of my comment was to demonstrate that simply because person A claims to believe in religious code Q is not sufficient to show that they also believe in violent application of sub-tenets Q1, Q2, Q3, and so forth. That was what the entire equivalence of words between the Bible and the Qu’ran was about.

    Rauf supports sharia, which was the point I was addressing. I was not addressing the issue of whether he could be quoted directly demanding someone’s execution. But he does support the people who I mentioned who have very harsh views, including Qaradawi and the Iranian regime, and both recommend the execution of homosexuals and public apostates.

    Secondly, you are making an accusation saying that I am glossing over Rauf’s views and actions and drawing unwarranted conclusions. I have read Rauf’s views in detail. Every empirical claim I’ve made about him is backed up with evidence.

    [...]

    That (recommending violence) is not really his style, nor did I claim he was recommending acts of violence. I’m not sure what you mean by close allies, but Qaradawi and (the late) Tantawi, both of whom Rauf praised, support Palestinian suicide bombers. He has also praised Gomaa, who argues that public apostates should be executed.

    I bolded segments to show several things. One, you have not shown evidence for these claims that he supports violence committed by the Iranian government or Palestinian suicide bombers. (If you cannot support these claims, it would amount to amount to character assassination.)

    Two, you seem to be admitting that nothing the Imam actually said advocates the violence you are associating him with.

    Three, you make no distinction of what reasons or for what cause the Imam — as you say — supports these people or actions. If he didn’t support them for the sake of killing people for a political purpose, it doesn’t show your point.

    p.s. before I dig up any more information in response to your requests, out of fairness I’m going to request something from you.

    I will make my own request: do not assume that other’s statements are formed in precisely the same context and meaning as your original thoughts.

  • Rollingforest

    @BBK: okay, I’ll modify my definition of bigotry against a religion to say “A person who is bigoted against a religion either A. exaggerates or lies about what a religious PERSON truly believes, or B. says that all people in the religion believe the same thing.”

    @ Archimediez: Yes Rauf calls for Shariah to be integrated into the law, but most conservative Christians call for the Bible to be integrated into the law as well. I don’t like either, but if a religious person believes that a book is the word of God, it is very difficult for them to say that it shouldn’t be advocated in the law. The key is to see what they say Shariah or the Bible truly wants.

    In one of the links that archimedez lists has Rauf calling for democracy, ending the use of nuclear weapons, gender equality, and denouncing suicide bombers. This doesn’t seem like the words of a man who supports brutal radical Islam.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/imam-feisal-abdul-rauf/obamas-challenge-to-the-m_b_211838.html

    While Rauf might whitewash the actions of Islamic countries, it should be noted that American liberals often whitewash the actions of Palestinian terrorists and that American conservatives often whitewash the actions of the Israeli government. While these three groups may be guilty of ignoring the crimes of their allies, that’s not the same thing as supporting those crimes.

    As for Christians that support killing gays: recently Uganda was working to pass a bill that would make some homosexual activity punishable by death. The anti-gay fervor was fanned by American Evangelical groups who, realizing that they were losing the debate in the US, decided to push anti-gay laws in Africa. While the American Christians will say that they don’t support killing gays, the fact remains that their actions directly led to a bill that would do just that.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/29/uganda-death-sentence-gay-sex

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Thanks, archimedez, for all your superb research on Rauf. This really helps us get a clearer picture of what his beliefs are as a whole. Daylight Atheism: like watching the news, but better!

    While there’s plenty in what you’ve cited for us to find fault with, though, we should be careful to draw only conclusions that are supported by the evidence. Even if he says Rauf supports sharia in civil law, although that’s certainly objectionable in and of itself, we shouldn’t automatically assume that he means the harshest possible version of sharia. kagerato’s statement was on point that many American Christians similarly call for the country to be governed by “biblical law”, and though we condemn those remarks we don’t necessarily conclude that they want a return to slavery and the stoning of witches and disobedient children – although, strictly speaking, that is what “biblical law” would mean.

    I think the important thing is to know precisely what Rauf has in mind when he talks about sharia. In that respect, the most relevant evidence you cited was Rauf’s praise for the Iranian revolution, which is indeed disturbing. Someone ought to pin him down about this and ask him directly if he’s in favor of executing gays and apostates, because it’s not a good sign that he’s been so persistently vague about it. This evasiveness is particularly noticeable in one of the articles you quoted, where he writes, “Rather than fear Shariah law, we should understand what it actually is” – but he ends there without actually explaining it!

  • http://peternothnagle.com Peter N

    I just heard a great observation on the whole International Burn the Koran Day brouhaha. On the latest The Atheist Experience show (you can watch it as a video or listen to it as a podcast), starting around 39 minutes, they discuss this story, and the awesome Tracie Harris said something to the effect that a tiny Christian cult’s threat to burn copies of the Koran is an “outrage” only because there are Muslims who agree to be outraged. Without what is essentially their cooperation, there would be no story here at all.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Yes, I’ve said it elsewhere that the Dove Outreach is essentially trolling the world.

  • archimedez

    Rollingforest,

    You write:
    “@ Archimediez: Yes Rauf calls for Shariah to be integrated into the law, but most conservative Christians call for the Bible to be integrated into the law as well. I don’t like either, but if a religious person believes that a book is the word of God, it is very difficult for them to say that it shouldn’t be advocated in the law. The key is to see what they say Shariah or the Bible truly wants.”

    The trouble is, of course, if they are saying they want these religious texts, theologies, and/or systems of religious jurisprudence to be integrated into the law, or to have parallel systems, and so on, it suggests that they are not satisfied with secular laws. Why not? What do they hope to achieve by bringing religion into, or back into, the laws? And what is the limit?

    “In one of the links that archimedez lists has Rauf calling for democracy, ending the use of nuclear weapons, gender equality, and denouncing suicide bombers. This doesn’t seem like the words of a man who supports brutal radical Islam.”

    The trouble is in the language. “Democracy” may mean something to Rauf that is very different from what you or I think is democracy. For example, I think to have a democracy, one of the things you have to have in the society is freedom of expression. More specifically, since the phrase freedom of expression can also have quite different meanings to different people (i.e., where do we draw the line?), it requires the freedom to merely publicly criticize the major ideologies in the society, be they religious and/or political, or whatever. Rauf disagrees with that, at least when it comes to Islam. As one of the links I cited showed, Rauf thinks it is right for the government to step in when freedom of expression collides with some Muslims being offended, for example, by cartoons, or by Wilders’ showing of a film. Rauf said, “…the Dutch Foreign Minister stood by the right to free speech while putting reasonable parameters on the proviso, saying “freedom of expression doesn’t mean the right to offend”.” But to me, those aren’t reasonable parameters. Anyone can claim to be offended by anything, including when they have no rational or ethical basis for an objection. This is contrary to democracy as I envision it, since I envision it in the context of a society that has several other things in place, such as freedom of expression (as I envision it).

    Rauf wants limits on freedom of expression with regards to Islam. He wants Islamic law brought into the legal systems.

    You cannot have a democracy, as I envision it, when entities such as God or gods are introduced as powerful authorities that are used in such a way as to regulate peoples’ behaviour. Rauf wants to introduce his God as an authority. But God is not a person; he/she it is not accountable, cannot be held responsible, is not subject to punishments and correctives. Any system where appeals are made to God, and I mean substantive appeals not just rhetorical or symbolic references, you have an element of theocracy.

    “While Rauf might whitewash the actions of Islamic countries, it should be noted that American liberals often whitewash the actions of Palestinian terrorists and that American conservatives often whitewash the actions of the Israeli government. While these three groups may be guilty of ignoring the crimes of their allies, that’s not the same thing as supporting those crimes.”

    Agreed. But with regard to Rauf, I was talking about a rather (seems to me) extreme case of failure-to-condemn, i.e., his complements re the Iranian regime.

    “As for Christians that support killing gays: recently Uganda was working to pass a bill that would make some homosexual activity punishable by death. The anti-gay fervor was fanned by American Evangelical groups who, realizing that they were losing the debate in the US, decided to push anti-gay laws in Africa. While the American Christians will say that they don’t support killing gays, the fact remains that their actions directly led to a bill that would do just that.”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/29/uganda-death-sentence-gay-sex

    True, with regard to those evangelicals (who among evangelicals are probably on the extreme end of the spectrum), but again, I was dealing with what another poster was claiming about mainstream American Christians.

  • archimedez

    Ebonmuse,

    Pinning Rauf down to specifics is indeed one of the problems. (Ibn Warraq raised essentially the same point). This is often hard to do with Rauf, because–and I say this in the sense of giving my overall impression–he often writes in such a way as to avoid giving clear statements on contentious issues. So unfortunately it’s necessary to read a large volume of his material to sketch out the outlines of what he believes, and even these outlines are tentative. The very lack of clarity, where it should be expected, is itself a problem. (That said, his stated views on the Muhammad cartoons give me a pretty good idea of where he stands on freedom of expression viz religion or at least his religion, and to me, that indicates that he wants to bring in an aspect of sharia beyond what would normally be under the more restricted categories of personal and family law implementations).

  • archimedez

    kagerato,

    “I will make my own request: do not assume that other’s statements are formed in precisely the same context and meaning as your original thoughts.”

    Alright then. Thanks for the clarification. By way of explanation, here’s the original statement you made which I thought was “surreal”:

    “Further, I do not find it strange that the Imam would support most or all of the guiding principles of the Iranian Revolution. For one, the revolution was seen locally as an overthrow of a tyrannical foreign government (the U.S. and Britain were chief backers of the Shah). Secondly, this Vilayet-i-faquih seems not nearly as radical a concept as Hitchens makes it out to be. This appears to be one more in a long line of authoritarian concepts promoted by all the world’s monotheistic religions. If you rephrased it into Christian terms, “ruling by the grace of God”, “building a kingdom for Jesus”, or so forth I would bet most Americans would not only support it but call it just.”

    [My bolding added]. So yes, due to your choices of words and phrases like “guiding principles,” and “concepts,” I did assume from this you were referring to something more than the superficial or non-meaningful similarities in the phrasing between (a) what “most Americans” would support and call just and (b) what the Iranian Revolutionary regime supports and calls just.

    “As to the second part, there is no responsible way in which I can declare your own views for you. I don’t know what you think is radical. If I completely understood your view, why would I have bothered to reply in such a manner?”

    But for the record, here is what you had said:

    ”Nonetheless, many of these statements do not seem as radical to me as they (clearly) do to you.”

    You said I thought some statements (plural) of Rauf’s were “clearly” radical, and these same statements you thought were not radical. My question stands: Which ones?

    “Asking me to define common words… Radical; “thoroughgoing or extreme, especially as regards change from accepted or traditional forms”.”

    This shows why my request for your interpretation in this context was not trivial: Radical can mean a return to the roots. For example, Rauf talks favorably about basing law on the Quran and Sunnah. That is not a change from accepted or traditional forms of Islam, but it may seem “radical” (as in far out, extreme) to a secularist in the 21st century.

    “My problem, and the reason why this becomes an issue, is that you seem to think most Iranians (or most Muslims, perhaps?) want such a government. I did not see any poll or statistic of any kind on that, and even if you could find one, I doubt it would be valid. You can’t take a fair poll in a society where dissenting views are not respected, where they may be some notable punishment for giving the “wrong” answer. So long as some forms of thought are oppressed, you can’t get a good viewpoint of what the people want from within the society itself.”

    1. Then, given this repression for example, which problems do you think Hitchens and I are exaggerating?
    2. No, I didn’t claim anything about what most Iranians or Muslims in Iran believed. This discussion is about Rauf and what he believes and endorses (and fails to condemn), including in regards to his expressed support for the Iranian regime.

    “Responsibility is always shared in cases like this. Trying to push the entire burden onto the builders of a center or new community to “include important excluded groups” is silly. They can’t include such groups if they don’t receive recognition that they want to be included. Someone first has to stand up and say “hey, over here, I exist”. Or did you mention someone who had, or some particular person or group who was being excluded from discussions on the center’s progress and goals?”

    I disagree, at least at this stage of the project. It’s Rauf et al.’s party, they send out the invitations. It’s not the responsibility of the as-yet excluded groups to be, so to speak, gate-crashers. (They could, but that’s not their responsibility).

    I think the Cordoba Initiative people are surely aware of the existence of apostates (ex-Muslims), atheists, and gays and lesbians, and they are surely aware of the Islamic texts, laws, traditions, and attitudes regarding such people. Even if they didn’t know, they should know.

    “Convenient that these little comment threads out in the wilderness of the internet won’t be read by anyone actually involved with the center’s construction or goals. Take your concerns directly to someone who can hear them, not random people responding to your comments.”

    I disagree, obviously, or I wouldn’t be posting here. I don’t think they have to be addressed directly. I can have an influence on the public discussion simply by posting here. But we are talking about your specific suggestions that the excluded groups should invite themselves to or show up at the proposed center.

    Need I remind you that the idea to contact the Cordoba project for an invitation, or to show up at their site, was yours?

    “Do you believe that agnostics, atheists, gays and lesbians, and so forth will be excluded from entering or using the center when or if it is completed? You realize the site is in New York, right?”

    Let me see if I understand the logic here. I suggested, for example, that the people in charge of programming at the proposed center invite people like Hirsi Ali, Sam Harris, Taslima Nasrin, Salman Rushdie, et al., to speak in their proposed auditorium. Are you suggesting, then, that because this place is located in New York, therefore these apostates and atheists (or others who are critical of Islam) will, or probably will, be invited?

    “You’re not optimistic about the center or its leaders at all. You’ve made that abundantly clear.”

    Should I be optimistic? I’m not optimistic, but I would not say I’m 100% certain that they’ll fail to meet such minimal criteria as inviting apostates, atheists, gays and lesbians, etc., to speak in the context of their programming in the proposed auditorium. It is possible (but I think not likely) that they may do so for public relations purposes to promote the project and smooth things over. As I said, if they meet some basic criteria, my opinion will change accordingly. Yet I don’t consider this likely.

    “Furthermore, why is it that you keep implying that all (most?) supporters of sharia are also supporters of the current Iranian theocracy? That claim needs evidence, and again, I don’t think polls can show it.”

    That is a false allegation. I’ve not said anything about the whether supporters of sharia are also supporters of the Iranian regime. I’ve shown that Rauf according to his own statements is a supporter of both. The only question is, How much?

    “The big purpose of my comment was to demonstrate that simply because person A claims to believe in religious code Q is not sufficient to show that they also believe in violent application of sub-tenets Q1, Q2, Q3, and so forth. That was what the entire equivalence of words between the Bible and the Qu’ran was about.”

    I disagree. First, I didn’t claim that Rauf’s beliefs on one thing showed what he believed on something else. All his comments are there for people to read. He supports sharia, and he supports the Iranian regime. What does this tell us?

    “I bolded segments to show several things. One, you have not shown evidence for these claims that he supports violence committed by the Iranian government or Palestinian suicide bombers. (If you cannot support these claims, it would amount to amount to character assassination.)”

    The bolded statements don’t show that at all. I never claimed that Rauf was advocating or directly supporting violence, which would require direct and explicit statements to that effect. What I have shown is what was requested, i.e., present evidence that Rauf supports sharia. Done.

    You then moved the goal posts and complained that I had not proven that Rauf (directly or explicitly) supports violence.

    “Two, you seem to be admitting that nothing the Imam actually said advocates the violence you are associating him with.”

    I didn’t say he directly and explicitly advocated violence. Part of my main issue with him is that he fails to condemn that which ought to be condemned, and which would be expected to be condemned, by someone in his position if he strongly disapproved of the Iranian regime, Qaradawi, etc. The main issue in this case (of the near-ground zero Islamic center) as I see it is his failure to acknowledge precisely those doctrines within Islam, in the Quran and Sunnah, which inspire and which are used to justify terrorism such as we saw on 9/11, the event with which Rauf wants to associate his project. I can’t support this project unless he confronts those texts directly, acknowledges them, and refutes them. (Again, I’m not optimistic that he’ll do this. But anything is possible).

    I didn’t just say he praised the Iran regime and Qaradawi. He praised them, and failed to condemn them. Other moderate Muslims have condemned and criticized the Iranian regime and Qaradawi. These other moderate Muslims have no words of praise at all for the Iranian regime and Qaradawi (as examples) and focus on criticisms of them. The fact that Rauf hasn’t criticized, but has instead praised them, raises red flags. It stands out to me as off-pattern or odd for someone who is touted to be in the category of people often called moderate Muslims.

    “Three, you make no distinction of what reasons or for what cause the Imam — as you say — supports these people or actions. If he didn’t support them for the sake of killing people for a political purpose, it doesn’t show your point.”

    I didn’t assert or conclude that he directly and explicitly supports killing people for a political purpose. As I said, that’s not really Rauf’s style. Nor is support for violence the only issue of concern. My point is that he has complemented the Iranian regime and Qaradawi, where he (as a free American protected by arguably the fullest freedom of expression provisions in the world today) had an opportunity to criticize them, but did not. And knowing this has an effect on what I believe about him, even if it brings me to no firm conclusion about what he thinks about use of violence for religious or political purposes. Some things I’m fairly sure about, others not so much.

    He’s now in a powerful and influential position. He has the media spotlight. What will he choose to do, or not do, with that power and opportunity?

  • http://kagerato.net kagerato

    I won’t use direct quotes this time, as it’s really expanding the thread text to an unnecessary and unwarranted degree.

    archimedez, I find it amusing that we’re even still discussing this, as I don’t see where the conflict even lies anymore. Let me note a few things, so that you might understand…

    (1) I don’t support the building of this, or any other, mosque, church, synagogue, temple, or other place of worship. Further, I wouldn’t fund the construction of one if I was the sole person with power to make the decision. I don’t particularly care that the Imam wants to encourage “interfaith” communication and cooperation, whatever that means in practice. Secular institutions are better at promoting understanding and facts between people.

    (2) Nonetheless, I can’t condemn him, his allies, or contributors for the project itself, especially before it has been built and actually done anything. They have the legal right to build it and I don’t see a moral impetus to interfere. Many of the opponents do, but their reasoning is totally distinct — and rather unjustifiable — compared to yours.

    (3) Line 2 of comment #41 identifies the various particular sentiments I do not find radical (outside of mainstream thought, in the U.S. or the wider world). Now, I presumed you found those thoughts radical. Maybe I was wrong on that; still haven’t figured that out from your comments. Either way, this seems to be more a matter of confusing “is” and “ought”. Whether the statements are radical in America can be determined by polling public opinion. I don’t think we have any disagreement that they should be radical opinions.

    (4) I didn’t claim you (or Hitchens) were exaggerating genuine problems in Islamic societies — including though probably not limited to censorship and the exclusion/expulsion/execution of gays and women. Simply put, I was attempting to put the matter into its complete context: that equivalent sentiments to many of these egregious viewpoints exist and are still popular here in America. Further, that we still have a substantial problem with censorship and persecution of gays and women, despite the fact that matters have improved a great deal in just the last two to three generations.

    (5) OK, so you don’t think most Iranians (or Muslims generally) support the violent and suppressive actions of Iran’s theocracy. We’re in agreement, and it was merely my misunderstanding.

    (6) Morally speaking, Imam Rauf should send out invitations to all concerned parties for a project that seeks to promote understanding and mutual acceptance. However, I don’t know who is and is not on the invitee list as it stands, or what the intentions are with regards to that. Hence the confusion. Somehow I suspect there isn’t even any such thing as ‘the’ invitee list, due to how early in its infancy the project still is.

    (7) I think your concerns should be addressed directly. I also believe they will not be addressed if someone does not present them directly. That’s not a problem if your concerns were misplaced; it is if they aren’t.

    (8) Heh, somehow taking bets on whether particular speakers will or will not be invited to speak prominently does not seem wise. Is there are particular fixation on those speakers? Does no one else represent atheists (or non-theists) well?

    This matter is very different from my statement, either way. One was about who will have access to the center’s facilities generally, and the other was about who the center’s owners will invite to speak.

    Curious, do you ask or demand that atheists have a chance to speak at new churches? Most of the churches I’m acquainted with do talk about love, peace, harmony, and so forth. Yet they rarely seem to actually build the bridges that would bring greater harmony or peace. Is there some distinction I’m missing here? Merely that the Imam fails to condemn Iran’s governmental abuses? Many churches have failed to condemn recent abuses by our own government, but I don’t feel the need to individually chastise and rebuke them one by one.

    He supports sharia, and he supports the Iranian regime. What does this tell us?

    It’s ironic; that’s precisely one of the answers I’ve been trying to extract from you. I don’t think the implications are that Imam supports violence and oppression. Some opponents of the mosque-center think it does. What do you think? What does it tell us?

    I understand that you want him to refute particular interpretations of theocratic passages and certain violent acts/actors. I don’t think that will happen unless the media directly asks about those passages/acts. More broadly, I don’t understand why this is expected to be asked of the Imam and not those who build a new church out in the rural segments of the country, where stating you support Biblical law without qualification is common and expected social behavior.

    Let me make it clear that if it is your position that these questions should be asked, and equal opposition given, to all theocrats of all stripes everywhere, then we don’t even really have an argument to speak of. We’re just quibbling meaninglessly over whether the attention should be directed more to this high-profile project or many low-profile projects generally, and that question has no clear right answer.

  • archimedez

    kagerato,

    Thanks for the reply.

    Re (2), yes indeed, we’ll have to wait and see what actually transpires with the project before making clear judgments. In the meantime, there is quite a bit of information, much of it provided by Rauf himself, which gives us some idea of his views. (I focus on Rauf because he is the so-called “visionary” of the project; he, compared to others, is likely to have the most influence on the programming). If objections are to be raised in the overall public discussion, at the proposal stage, I think it’s also useful to raise them now before things are more firmly established.

    Re (3), I still don’t know what you’re referring to, but I’ll let this one go because the conversation seems to be moving along.

    Re (5), the percentage of Iranians who support the regime or specific aspects of it, was not really on point. The entities in the comparison as I understood it were the Iranian Revolutionary regime (which was brought in because Rauf had positive words for them), and American Christians.

    Re (6) and (7), what you say is reasonable though I disagree on the practicality of contacting them myself. (That in itself, of course, doesn’t necessarily mean that I should not. As I said, I’m not optimistic enough after having read Rauf’s views).

    Re (8), not fixed on those particular speakers though they would be at the top of my list.

    As to the questions to the effect of my focusing on this particular project, much of my answer is summed up in my reply to DSimon, i.e., it is primarily via the combination of media attention, and the fact that Ebonmuse commented on it here, and my own subjective interest in the story.

    The particular stated objectives of the Cordoba project near ground zero, including the stated intention of countering the type of extremism that led to the 9/11 attacks, is what has captured my interest here. To me, this seems to be the central issue of the entire debate over the desirability of this Cordoba project: Will this project actually help us reduce the type of extremism and deeply entrenched enmity that contributed to 9/11? Will it, as Rauf ambitiously proposes, prevent the next 9/11 (i.e., major terrorist attack)? My support or opposition for the project hinges on whether it can do what its chief proponent says it can. I oppose the proposal specifically in this respect. (I’m not opposed to there being a place for Muslims to worship, or exercise facilities, and so on, in the proposed complex; that stuff is peripheral to the issue which concerns me). While more information is needed, and will become available as the project unfolds, what I’ve seen thus far is pretty much the opposite of what I would expect would effectively tackle extremism. We’ve already had this apologetic approach to Islam and the so-called interfaith dialogue between Muslim, Christian, and Jewish religious leaders, and it hasn’t accomplished anything, in my view. They need to move out of their comfort zone. Clearly, to counter the type of extremism that would lead to a 9/11, we need to confront the elements of the ideology itself, and that means going into the core texts of Islam. It also means taking a close and critical look at what young people are being taught in schools and mosques in the Islamic world (and in the U.S. and elsewhere). I do not believe that we as a society can do this if only people like Rauf, with their rose-coloured glasses about the three Abrahamic faiths living in harmony, and their rosy view of Islam, can accomplish this with their current mindset. He insists that Islam is fine; that the problems are all due misinterpretation and misapplication of Islam. He does not seem to be tolerant of criticism of Islam. The project needs a different approach, and needs different people involved, if it is going to succeed in tackling the problem of extremism and hatred. It would not only be a gesture of inclusion, but I think a real substantive benefit, to involve prominent critics of Islam and other religions into the project, or at least into the programming.

    You wrote: “I don’t think the implications are that Imam supports violence and oppression. Some opponents of the mosque-center think it does. What do you think? What does it tell us?”

    Based on his writings, his support for sharia and the Iranian regime, which are not well-specified, indicate that he is at least a soft Islamist. To me, that puts him outside the category of what I deem to be a moderate Muslim. (Briefly, to me moderate Muslims are those who oppose sharia or who otherwise have no interest in setting it up). To me, that means he is someone who is willing to use his influence to help establish sharia, but doesn’t believe that violent jihad is the appropriate means to achieve this at this time. I think he believes what he says when he says this establishment of sharia should be achieved through political, democratic, legal, and social means. Where he stands on the harsh punishments in sharia I do not know, but I am reasonably certain that he is on the wrong side (from my perspective) of one of the most important issues in society, namely freedom of expression including the freedom to criticize religion including his religion. Many questions remain because of his stated support for some of the harshest interpretations available and his lack of clarity.

    You wrote:
    “…if it is your position that these questions should be asked, and equal opposition given, to all theocrats of all stripes everywhere, then we don’t even really have an argument to speak of.”

    Well, equal opposition assuming all else is equal. As I said to DSimon, as a principle, the level of opposition should be proportionate to the severity of the problems. There is another issue quite apart from this also, concerning the specific knowledge and interests of the critic of religion. I’ve specialized almost entirely in my critical assessment in two religions, Christianity and Islam, and a third (Judaism) mainly from study in relation to the other two. I don’t know much about Hinduism, Sikhism, and Buddhism, so I really would not have much to add to the discussion about them. And of the two main ones, in the past several years I’ve focused most of my study (purely on an amateur hobby basis) on Islam. Hence, Islam is my specialty, and thus I am more likely to comment on cases where I can draw upon some of my knowledge.

  • http://kagerato.net kagerato

    That fairly well answers everything I wanted to know. Thanks for the reply, archimedez.

  • bbk

    Does anyone here read Queens Crap? I’m a new reader there so I don’t yet know how reputable it is, but it pertains to all things NYC having to do with shady land deals, mass transit, parking spaces, etc. He’s got a lot of opinions on the mosque from that perspective. According to this blog, the imam happens to be a deadbeat landlord of an apartment building in NJ and the developer is being evicted from his office over unpaid rent. Basically, not the most reputable individuals. I’m not sure if they should be regarded as the pillars of hope for Islam in America.

  • Dan L.

    But there is still the issue of whether it is desirable for society, and so the task is persuasion

    Yeah, unfortunately for you, there is no “desirable for society” restriction on what people do on their private property.

    There’s no obligation for any individual or group to put their lives and works on hold to persuade anyone of anything.

    I wish you’d put a tiny fraction of the energy you’re putting into opposing this Rauf guy into a more worthwhile cause. I can’t see anything behind it except, “Hey, this guy’s got an unpopular opinion!”

    Well, if you’re reading this blog, so do you. Maybe you shouldn’t be so quick to jump on bandwagons, that being the case.

    As far as Jones goes…cripes, it’s not like no one’s ever burned a Koran before. The only difference between those guys and Jones was the media coverage. So can we please just blame the media now?

  • archimedez

    Dan L.,

    You write:
    “Yeah, unfortunately for you, there is no “desirable for society” restriction on what people do on their private property.”

    I think you are missing the point; and I never claimed there was a mere “desirable for society” restriction (legally) on what people do legally on their own property. Both the pastor Jones and the imam Rauf are (or in the case of the pastor, were) claiming that their projects would in some way be good for society; the imam, in particular, claims there will be a great benefit, not the least of which his Cordoba project will prevent terrorist attacks. I disagree.

    “There’s no obligation for any individual or group to put their lives and works on hold to persuade anyone of anything.”

    Obligation? I’m not sure what you mean. The fact that you are voicing your opposition to my post indicates that you feel “obliged” enough to post your comment in opposition. Why, then, do you have a problem with my objections to Rauf, his project, and his statements? If I find something to be immoral and possibly damaging to society, particularly in the long term, then I feel morally obliged to oppose it.

    “I wish you’d put a tiny fraction of the energy you’re putting into opposing this Rauf guy into a more worthwhile cause. I can’t see anything behind it except, “Hey, this guy’s got an unpopular opinion!””

    If you think I’m opposing Rauf because he (allegedly) has an unpopular opinion, then you would be wrong and haven’t read my posts carefully. Instead, you appear to be fabricating an allegation in an attempt to mischaracterize my views.

    “Well, if you’re reading this blog, so do you. Maybe you shouldn’t be so quick to jump on bandwagons, that being the case.”

    Your apparent posture of moral indignation here is based on your own fraudulent, fabricated assumption that I oppose Rauf’s project because he (allegedly) has an unpopular opinion.

    “As far as Jones goes…cripes, it’s not like no one’s ever burned a Koran before. The only difference between those guys and Jones was the media coverage. So can we please just blame the media now?”

    I’m not sure exactly what you are claiming there, but if you are saying the media over-hyped the proposed Quran-burning (i.e., the one that never actually took place), I agree.


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