Thursday, August 26, 2010

National Security Updates

By Ryan Mauro

The Ground Zero Mosque's Conservative Supporter

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and proponents of his plan to build a 13-story Islamic center near Ground Zero are now being helped by Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform and conservative Republican activist. Norquist and his associates are calling on the Republican Party to drop its opposition to the plan, arguing that the GOP is threatening the rights of Muslims and that its criticism will backfire politically. [more...]

Fake Hate Crimes: An Islamist Weapon

Over the recent Fourth of July weekend, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) interviewed attendees of the 47th annual Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) convention about their experiences in dealing with “Islamophobia.” Shortly afterwards, on July 6, CAIR called on the FBI to investigate an act of arson at a Georgia mosque, saying that hate crimes were increasing because of a “vocal minority in our society promoting anti-Muslim bigotry.” The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) referred to it as one of the “incidents of Islamophobia [that] are on the rise in this country.” However, police later arrested a Muslim suspect. [more...]

First Islamic College Opens in California

AOL News reports that the first accredited Islamic college in America, the Zaytuna College, has opened its doors in California. The two founders say they are opposed to terrorism and are patriotic Americans, but questions have been raised about some of their beliefs. Ryan Mauro, the Christian Action Network's National Security Advisor, wrote in FrontPage Magazine in May 2009 that the two founders, Sheikh Hamza Yusuf and Imam Zaid Shakir, have said some very positive things but some areas of concern remain. [more...]

Iran: Filling the Void in Iraq

Last week, the U.S. removed its last full combat brigade from Iraq, bringing troop levels down to about 50,000. The withdrawal comes as the Iraqi political parties struggle to form the next government and Iran increases its efforts to control Iraq. The war isn't over; it's just entered a new phase. [more...]

Thursday, August 19, 2010

National Security Updates

By Ryan Mauro

Israel's Crunch Time

The Obama administration gave Russia permission to deliver the fuel rods for Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor in return for their support for U.N. sanctions. The Russians have announced they will begin the process on August 21 and Iran will begin operating the reactor in mid-September. In making this concession to Russia, the U.S. is forcing Israel to decide within one week if they will bomb the site before it is impossible to do so because of the radioactive fallout it would cause. [more...]

The Tricks of Hezbollah

It is not a coincidence that the August 3 clash on the Lebanese-Israeli border came as the United Nations tribunal investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri prepared to indict Hezbollah. The violence on the border, which was the worst since the 2006 war, was initiated by the Lebanese Army and came as Hezbollah desperately tried to blame Israel for the Hariri assassination. [more...]

Is Islam Really the Fastest Growing Religion?

It’s a stated fact everywhere from the media to academia to churches: Islam is the second-fastest growing religion. It will become the biggest religion during this century. Christianity is going out of style and Islam is the new kid on the block. We hear it from those wanting to give the Muslim community a bigger voice; from those complaining about Western ignorance; from those trying to put Islam on the same plane as Christianity and Judaism; and even in churches decrying the lack of evangelical fervor among the congregation. But is it really true? [more...]

Jon Stewart Really Doesn’t Get the 9/11 Mosque Controversy

This week on "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart joined the chorus of those thinking the criticism of the 9/11 mosque project is driven by anti-Muslim bigotry. Like most issues, the 9/11mosque project is complex, and to reduce it to a single theme is simplistic and deceiving. Stewart took aim at Glenn Beck for saying that Imam Rauf’s statement that U.S. foreign policy mistakes contributed to 9/11, noting that Beck had said much the same, but leaves it there. There are multiple layers to why the project is a bad idea. But before we get to that, watch the segment after the jump. [more...]

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ryan Mauro's Trip to Israel

Ryan Mauro spent almost two weeks in Israel and has recently returned to the U.S.

Go here to read his blogs.

This is from his final day in Israel: Leaving Yad Vashem, I realize the cost of even relatively light anti-Semitism and bigotry is too high and ignoring it is too risky. Any remaining vestige of this plague and any sign of its resurfacing must be immediately stamped out, not only because of the consequences for the future but because it’s the best way of apologizing to those we abandoned in the past.

We owe it to the victims to make sure their sacrifice at least prevents the suffering of others. And when I walked out of Yad Vashem to a beautiful view of Jerusalem, it really hit me why we must stand with Israel. A sort of conviction arises that I think few people can relate to. Israel is the beauty that arose out of this tragedy - and walking out of the last dark room of books of names of Holocaust victims, Israel’s light shone brighter than at any moment during the trip.

Leaving Israel, I feel like I’m leaving a big part of me there, and bringing a small part of Israel to the U.S. Everything I love about my country, my culture, and my beliefs is embodied in Israel. I stand for peace. I stand for democracy and freedom. I stand for righting history’s wrongs. I stand for human rights and tolerance. I stand with Israel.

Some video from the trip:

Monday, August 16, 2010

No Hatred in a Principled Stand

By Cory Emberson, Co-author of Pursuing Liberty: America Through the Eyes of the Newly Free

Cordoba House, the Islamic center/mosque proposed for the former Burlington Coat Factory building two blocks from New York's sacred ground - Ground Zero - has touched off a firestorm of debate in New York City and across the country. While Cordoba Initiative founder Imam Feisal (who will not call Hamas a terrorist organization), New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and a suddenly religiously tolerant left push ahead in their support of this thirteen-story mosque, they seem surprised by the intensity of the opposition.

Americans are a generally tolerant people, and while New Yorkers waited for the outcome of the Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing - they denied the building at 45-47 Park Place landmark status, allowing the permit process to move forward. But wait! Parts of United Flight 175's landing gear smashed through the building, landing on the empty selling floor. The building was, blessedly, vacant. This is not just another building.

Since the attacks of 9/11, a stateless declaration of war on the United States, the sensitivity game has been waged as a large-scale chess match. Politicians have made a point of articulating America's unique legacy of tolerance, even in the face of reciprocal intolerance. Want to bring a Bible to Saudi Arabia? Sorry. Got a problem with the red crescent-shaped Flight 93 memorial design? How could you reject such outreach? Is the construction of a mosque only a few blocks away from Ground Zero (and another mosque) a slap in the face to those who perished, their families, and the survivors? Just ask a New Yorker.

Our inalienable right of dissent has been tarred as hatred; our objections badly mischaracterized as a phobia; and we are pressured to ignore history and radical Islam's penchant for symbolism. Alyssa A. Lappen writes in Pajamas Media:

"Even Cordoba Institute's name telegraphs the organization's deceptiveness. Cordoba (also the name for Chautauqua's proposed new Muslim house) was the seat of the Islamic Caliphate that ruled most of Spain from Tariq ibn Zayid's 711 invasion through 1248, and controlled parts of Spain until its full liberation in 1492. However, neither the Umayyads (who ruled monolithically until about 1031), nor the particularly vicious Almoravids (who swept over the Atlas mountains and, in 1080, into Spain) ruled non-Muslims kindly. While Islamic harshness varied, it remained unquestionably ever-present."
Rick Lindstrom and I wrote Pursuing Liberty: America Through the Eyes of the Newly Free as both an intimate portrait of those who fled tyranny for American liberty, and as a historical record of how those countries descended into oppression. It was no surprise when we found Neda Bolourchi's powerful op-ed in Sunday's Washington Post: A Muslim victim of 9/11: "Build your mosque somewhere else":

"The Iranian revolution compelled my family to flee to America when I was 12 years old. Yet, just over two decades later, the militant version of our faith caught up with us on a September morning. I still identify as a Muslim. When you are born into a Muslim family, there is no way around it, no choices available: You are Muslim. I am not ashamed of my faith, but I am ashamed of what is done in its name."
Neda's mother was on United Flight 175, the second plane to smash into the World Trade Center the morning of September 11, 2001. She witnessed her mother's murder on live television. To this day, she is torn, and carries the anguish of that day:

"I still have great respect for the faith. Yet, I worry that the construction of the Cordoba House Islamic cultural center near the World Trade Center site would not promote tolerance or understanding; I fear it would become a symbol of victory for militant Muslims around the world."
Those militants who would cheer the destruction of the United States in favor of a worldwide caliphate ruled by sharia law have no problem telling us exactly what they intend to do. Why don't we believe them? And while the Cordoba Initiative's mission statement is to "improv[e] Muslim-West relations," it seems that sensitivities only exist on a one-way street.

We support New York construction worker Andy Sullivan's principled refusal to work on this particular site, as articulated during his interview on Fox & Friends on August 10: "It's not about religion - it's about human decency." Sullivan cited the "Muslim tradition of placing mosques on conquered territory," and is appealing directly to his rank and file colleagues. He was asked whether he would refuse paying work on the Cordoba Project, in that location, out of principle - even in a recession-wracked city. "Absolutely."

As fair-minded Americans, we find it difficult to operate outside the rule of law. While disallowing such a project on legal terms is vastly more in our character than rejecting it on emotional terms, sensitivity toward the mosque's opponents' pain - and a voluntary withdrawal of the project - truly would demonstrate their stated goal of goodwill toward the West. Just because it's legal to do something doesn't mean you should do it.