Friday, August 27, 2010

and now hybrid Muslims

Here is Governor David Paterson latest comment around the Park 51 debacle:

“This group who has put this mosque together, they are known as the Suffi Muslims. This is not like the Shiites,” Paterson said. “They’re almost like a hybrid, almost westernized. They are not really what I would classify in the sort of mainland Muslim practice.”

It might be easy to just dismiss Paterson's comment as just another piece of ignorant nonsense coming from an uneducated US politician. BUT such a characterization would not take into account the context within which these remarks were made, and the fact this dividing up Muslims as "good" and "bad" Muslims is something that Feisal Abdul Rauf himself has encouraged.

Feisal Abdul Rauf's self image marketing has included an almost Obamasque distancing of himself from many Muslims who in fact are struggling for peace and justice. But just as Obama has not entirely succeeded in his denial of being a Muslim, so too Feisal Abdul Rauf has not been able to entirely shed the "radical Imam" image, no matter how hard he tries to play to the tune of the US State Department.

If one looks at the list of "friends" on the Cordoba Initiative - they do not list a single Muslim or Islamic group, all of them are either Jewish (the liberal Zionist type) Christians, Buddhists, and some secular groups. This attempt to run away from the Islamic character of the center only ends up feeding the Islamophobia, because it reveals Feisal Abdul Rauf and his project's growing discomfort with being Muslim, which is exactly the purpose of the Islamophobic campaign against the mosque. This is just one reason why Abdul Rauf is the wrong person to head up such a project.

There is another group called Stop Islamophobia - that includes a variety of peace and justice groups, along with Arab and Muslim groups. it is strange (but not surprising) to say the least, that the Cordoba Initiative fails to list a single one of these supporters on their web site!

If the Park 51 Mosque / community ctr. (whatever) is to go ahead, then it must expand - and include within it more representative Muslim groups, Palestinian groups, anti-Zionist Jewish groups, and anti-war groups. Such an expansion would bring a clear reflection of the needs of Muslims in the United States, along with providing a much needed venue where peace, social justice, and anti-war groups can organize against the US wars on Muslims. (Swimming pools etc. are all fine and well, assuming that climate change does not bring a massive shortage of water in New York City.)

Of-course, the Islamophobes will go nuts for a while, but in the long run, such an effort will only benefit Muslims, because it will show the US establishment forces, that we Muslims are not about to play into the "good Muslim" game. However, i have serious doubts that Feisal Abdul Rauf, and Daisy Khan are up to such a task. This project needs to be removed from the hands of individuals, and given to the larger Muslim communities - including us all in all of our diversities - where those struggling for Palestine will not be excluded because the project leader is a self-proclaimed supporter of the "state of Israel."


Gambit57 said...

Need to embed a link to Patterson's exact speech.

BrownS said...

JAK this is very interesting. Can you please provide examples where Imam Rauf encourages this dichotomy between "good" and "bad" Muslims? I haven't read his works so I don't know ...

publicdebate said...

The dichotomy that Abdul Rauf creates should be obvious by his act of representing the US in Muslim countries, and making statements defending the US, and asking Muslim to "understand the US, and "israel's" fear of Muslims - what bogus nonsense - that is like asking a rape victim to "understand" the rapist. Muslim in Muslim majority countries of-course find such comments nonsensical.

Those who he has affiliated with, in the US government, have also regarded him to be a "moderate" Muslim - Rauf has said nothing to correct these kinds of terms being used about him: i.e. he is the kind of Muslim that the State Department can send off to talk about the US (i.e. a "good Muslim" who, for the most part, ignores US crimes). Now, of-course, all of this is not enough, and the only thing that would satisfy some is if a Muslim renounced being a Muslim. Has Mr. Rauf specifically said anything about "good" and "bad" Muslims, he may or may not have - but that is not the issue - it is his brand and marketing of himself as a "moderate" Muslim that ends up being even more insidious.

"His (Mr. Rauf) work on tolerance and religious diversity is well-known and he brings a moderate perspective to foreign audiences on what it's like to be a practicing Muslim in the United States," State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley said Tuesday. He added that the department's public-diplomacy offices "have a long-term relationship with" Rauf - including during the past Bush administration, when the religious leader undertook a similar speaking tour.