Monday, August 23, 2010

Ground Zero Imam Says U.S. Has More Blood on it's Hands than al-Qaeda

New audio has surfaced of the imam behind the controversial mosque near Ground Zero allegedly telling an audience overseas that the United States has been far more deadly than al-Qaeda. "We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al-Qaeda has on its hands of innocent non Muslims," Feisal Abdul Rauf said at a 2005 lecture sponsored by the University of South Australia. After discussing the U.S.-led sanctions against Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Rauf went on to argue that America is to blame for its testy relationship with Islamic countries.

"What complicates the discussion, intra-Islamically, is the fact that the West has not been cognizant and has not addressed the issues of its own contribution to much injustice in the Arab and Muslim world." The audio was uncovered by blogger and Ground Zero Mosque opponent Pam Geller.


  1. I agree with Imam Feisal Rauf. An upper bound of al Qaida bloodshed would be 100,000 (that's probably more than ten times the actual number). A lower bound of bloodshed due to U.S. policies since Democrat president Harry Truman would be 100,000. (I bet it's in the millions.)

    Right wing Christians have trouble calling libertarians like Ron Paul and me anti-American for saying such a thing because they know we have a principled opposition to big government. (Conservatives want government to leave us alone here in the U.S., but they want government to interfere abroad in the name of "national interests" or "American exceptionalism.") To get a libertarian view of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, check out this Policy Analysis from the Cato Institute. It was written by Sheldon Richman in 1991 during the jingoistic paroxysm following the first Gulf War. At that time, Richman was senior editor at the Cato Institute. Today, Richman is editor of The Freeman.

    Imam Rauf, even though he's an American citizen, cannot say such things without being seen as a jihadist against America. Right wing Christian bigotry sees to that. It was easy to find Rauf's entire lecture at the University of South Australia.You can listen to it or read the transcript.

    This video was made to get you to conclude that Rauf is justifying terrorism or even supporting it. If you listen to the lecture or read the transcript you'll see that's not the case. I won't say that Rauf got "Sherroded," but this video is misleading right wing propaganda. Al shouldn't willy-nilly put junk like this on his blog.

  2. Continued

    Let's see the full context of Rauf's remarks.

    As part of his "the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaida has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims" answer, Rauf also said this:

    "How many of you have seen the documentary: Fahrenheit 911? The vast majority -- at least half here. Do you remember the scene of the Iraqi woman whose house was bombed and she was just screaming, 'What have they done.' Now, I don't know. You don't know Arabic, but in Arabic it was extremely powerful. Her house was gone. Her husband, I think, was killed. What wrong did he do? I found myself weeping when I watched that scene and I imagined myself if I were a 15-year old nephew of this deceased man, what would I have felt?

    Collateral damage is a nice thing to put on a paper. But when the collateral damage is your own uncle or cousin, what passions do these arouse? How do you negotiate? How do you tell people whose homes have been destroyed, whose lives have been destroyed, that this does not justify your actions of terrorism. It's hard. Yes, it is true that it does not justify the acts of bombing innocent civilians. That does not solve the problem, but after 50 years of, in many cases, oppression, of US support of authoritarian regimes that have violated human rights in the most heinous of ways, how else do people get attention?

    So I'm not -- I'm just providing you with the arguments that are happening intra-Islamically by those who feel the emotion of pain. Half a million Iraqi ... there's a sense in the Arab and Muslim world that the European world and Western world is just -- does not care about our lives or human lives. There's a perception in much of the Arab world and the Muslim world that the issue is about race. That the Palestinian Israeli issue is less about religion than it is about race because about 25 per cent or more of the Palestinians or the Arabs are Christian. Many people in the West are unaware that Palestinians are not uniformly Muslim."

  3. Continued

    And here's the full context of Rauf's remarks about the Madrid and London terrorist attacks:

    "The fact of the matter is I personally believe that two wrongs do not make a right. If someone does a wrong to me, my response should not be to do a wrong back. I can understand the emotionality behind doing the wrong but we would like to hope that we hold ourselves to higher standards. But I think it is important also to understand the power of emotion and politics. In studies that have been made by political historians of terrorism, defined as militancy against non-combatants and civilians, the point has been made by political historians that terrorism has been done ever since the beginning of time, practically, -- since the time of the Romans for sure -- and they were designed to achieve very specific target political objectives.

    And when we observe terrorism, whether it was done by the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka or by al Qaida or whoever is behind the bombings in London or those in Madrid, we can see that they were target political objectives. So political objectives and economical objectives, in my mind -- I agree with you -- are the driving forces. And then religion gets co opted along the way, or any ideology can very easily be co-opted or be the wrapping for such movements. And certainly what has happened in the Muslim world is that the secular liberation movements have failed.

    Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine was unable to liberate Palestinians. Arab Nationalism has failed. Many of the non-religious attempts to provide, you know, the good society to the Muslim world has failed. And it becomes very easy to wrap liberation movements and issues of aspirations for social justice within the vocabulary of religion, especially a religion that is based upon law and for which justice and legal justice is very important and paramount.

    So I certainly share your sentiment and I welcome your cooperation and thoughts on how to present the arguments more powerfully and this is what a coalition of like-minded people across the religious divide, or whatever, is very helpful in helping us collectively make people understand the issues and how to address them. Because unless those underlying issues are addressed, you will have these symptoms repeating themselves again."

  4. Continued

    Someone asked Rauf about the calls for an Islamic Reformation (I bet Al bristles at that!).

    Rauf had an interesting answer. (But one that I don't really buy.)

    "On the issue of the reformation, in terms of what is again intended by it, Islam does not need a reformation. It needs just a going back to its basic principles of application. From the very beginning the prophet urged his followers to seek knowledge, even if they went as far as China. And Muslim scholars have interpreted that Hadith, or teaching of the prophet, to mean obviously they didn't go there to understand religion, but it was to understand what we would call secular knowledge.

    So the importance of knowledge was something which was very important to the Muslims of early times and within a couple of centuries the Muslim thinkers had absorbed all of the known thought, from Greek neo-Platonic and esoterian thought, to Hindu thought and mathematics, and they absorbed and translated all of those works into Arabic, which was the lingua franca, if you will, of the empire, and translated it and improved upon it and added upon it. So the notion of a reformation or an enlightenment to embrace knowledge from sources outside the traditional sources of religion, of what is called traditional religious sciences, was something that was part of Islamic tradition.

    What has happened, paradoxically, is that the Muslim world has adopted the paradigms of thought and attitudes of pre-enlightenment Europe and somehow it is as if we bequeathed to Europe the enlightenment and we took from them the Dark Ages. And the parallels are very much there down to the attitudes that many Muslims have today. And that is why people like Professor Ali Mazuri at the University of New York, Binghamton -- who has pointed out these and described very well this notion of differentiation between Church-State separation and religion and politics in a very, very lovely paper that he delivered -- mentions also that Islam began as modernist, has now become pre-modernist.

    So now basically what is needed is not a reformation in the sense of something new and not done, but really to go back to what we used to do before and that's an important -- it may sound like just, you know, semantics, but it's more than just semantics because the way to convince Muslims is by using their own language. Islam is a religion of law, just like Judaism.

    The way you approach Muslims is very much the way you approach a jury in a courtroom. You have a system of law that they operate under. They may not be very informed about it. It doesn't matter. If you inform them and educate them about the principles of jurisprudence, like a judge gives before a jury, and it is within a system of law -- I don't know if the laws of South Australia are identical to the laws of Victoria or New South Wales, but I presume that in every State there is its own interpretation and precedents on certain issues.

    We have the same in Islamic law. We have -- not only do we have different schools of law within Sunni and Shia thinking, we have established precedents. So analogously, to debate or to engage with the Muslim world, the way to do it is to engage within the thinking patterns that Muslims themselves engage in. So when you tell Muslims: what we need to do is to revert back to our own earlier history, that appeals to Muslims and it sounds like something from within the tradition rather than something without.

    So if there is a reformation that is required, it is not so much a reformation but as a reaffirmation of that which we used to do in the past when we absorbed the knowledge of other parts of the world and assimilated into our own."