In Afghanistan a few weeks ago a young couple was stoned to death by the Taliban for the alleged crime of adultery. She was nineteen, he was twenty-five, and from all accounts they went to their horrible death defiant and proud of their love. They did not accept that they had committed any crime. And, they had not by the standards of the 21st century. Newspapers reported that it was not just the Taliban’s barbaric executioners who participated in this primitive act of alleged justice but ordinary villagers too.
In Iran a widow called Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiyani would probably have been stoned to death already for ‘adultery’ if there had not been an international outcry. A campaign on her behalf has so far saved Sakineh’s life but now the Mullahs who control Iran have responded by making the poor woman confess on television to her husband’s murder. This will make it easier for them to execute her as a common criminal.
In many African countries Muslim girls are genitally mutilated in the most painful, disgusting way all in the name of Allah’s greater glory. And, in every country of the world in which Muslims live we see signs of a return to an aggressive, fundamentalist kind of Islam. Women cover their faces and veil their bodies more than they did before and suddenly every Muslim man, moderate or Islamist, seems to sport a beard.
What is more worrying still is the sense of grievance and persecution that the mildest, least religious Muslims appear to suffer from always banging on about American ‘atrocities’ on Islamic lands and a Jewish-Christian-Hindu plot to do Islam in. It is against this backdrop that the plans to build a mosque in New York at Ground Zero needs to be viewed. It is unfortunate that the protests against the proposed Cordoba Initiative Center have been led by racists and fanatics. Had this not happened it is possible that the real objections to this center would have been more clearly heard because real objections there mostly certainly are.
Of these, the most important is that there is something fundamentally offensive about building a mosque so close to a site where thousands of innocent Americans were killed in the name of Islam. Why is it not possible for Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf to find another place to build his mosque? And, while we are asking, where did he get the money from for the huge and expensive centre he proposes to build?
In lower Manhattan the prices of land alone are enough to deter this sort of mega initiative and Imam Feisal has made no effort to explain where he is getting the estimated $100million that he will need to build his Cordoba Center? If the money is coming from Saudi Arabia’s rulers, who also spend millions of dollars on building madrassas that spread radical Islam, then there is something very dubious about his project.
Imam Feisal is a big international figure with much influence. Most of the articles that have appeared in the American press refer to him as a moderate and exactly the sort of Muslim religious leader that the world needs right now. They talk of his work towards building inter-faith bridges and about how he comes from an illustrious family that has done much to make Islam better understood by us infidels.
What they do not tell us is why it was so hard for Imam Feisal to speak out openly against 9/11 instead of hinting that American foreign policy was the cause of it. He said on CBC that ‘the United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened’. What they do not explain is why he refuses to condemn organizations like Hamas. In the eyes of us infidel types Hamas is an Islamist organization that promotes the cause of jihadi terror.
The question that needs to be asked above all is why someone with Imam Feisal’s views wants to live in New York in the first place. Why are there so many Muslims like him who despite having little respect for Western civilization or Western society continue to want to live in Western cities instead of migrating back to the countries they came from where Islam is usually the state religion. The answer usually is that they come to earn a living but Imam Feisal does not come out of penury and nor do millions of other Muslims living in New York, London and Paris.
To ask them why they want to live in degenerate Western cities is to risk being charged with Islamaphobia. I am constantly being found guilty on this count not just in real life but in cyberspace where Islamist websites grow and flourish. But, there are things that must be said in defence of the values us infidels stand for and there are too few people saying them.
Our values do not approve of people being stoned to death for making personal moral decisions that in the 21st century are their own business. Our values do not believe women need to be veiled and hidden away. Our values believe that everyone has a right to their own ideas of faith and worship and that nobody has a right to bang them on the head with some alleged message from God and tell them that there is only one true faith. Does Imam Feisal believe in these values?
The reason why the question of building a mosque at Ground Zero is important not just for Americans but for us in India is because we face similar problems with our Muslims, the second largest Islamic population in the world, that increase daily because of growing and unjustified sense of grievance.
Having traveled far and wide it is my considered opinion that few countries in the world have been more accepting of Muslims and Islam than India. Muslims have lived on the Indian sub-continent for nearly as long as Islam has been around. They have been allowed to live the way they want to and worship the way they want. Rajiv Gandhi went so far as to allow Muslims their own personal law and Dr. Manmohan Singh has gone further and announced that Muslims have the first right on India’s resources, but the sense of grievance and the appeal of radical Islamist ideas continue to grow. This is inexplicable and worrying and needs to be dealt with. What we need in India badly is a serious inter-faith dialogue led by someone like the Dalai Lama.