Archive for Cordoba Initiative

Mayor Bloomberg: Candidate for Anti-Loon of the Year

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2010 by loonwatch

Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg is a candidate for anti-Loon of the year due to his consistent defense of religious liberty and steadfast support of the political hot-potato issue of the Park51 Cultural Center, aka the “Ground Zero Mosque.”

Bloomberg Launches Another Impassioned Defense Of Cordoba House

by Sam Stein

In a rousing address before a predominantly Muslim audience Tuesday night, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg reaffirmed his commitment to the controversial Islamic cultural center near the former site of the World Trade Center.

Bloomberg, who hosted the annual Ramadan Iftar dinner at his official Gracie Mansion residence, did not back away from his position as the most vocal and public defender of the so-called “Ground Zero mosque.” If anything, he couched his defense of the project in even deeper moral and political terms, calling the Cordoba House a telling illustration of intrinsic American principles and a valuable tool in the war on terror.

From Bloomberg’s prepared remarks:

But if we say that a mosque and community center should not be built near the perimeter of the World Trade Center site, we would compromise our commitment to fighting terror with freedom.

We would undercut the values and principles that so many heroes died protecting. We would feed the false impressions that some Americans have about Muslims. We would send a signal around the world that Muslim Americans may be equal in the eyes of the law, but separate in the eyes of their countrymen. And we would hand a valuable propaganda tool to terrorist recruiters, who spread the fallacy that America is at war with Islam.
Islam did not attack the World Trade Center — Al-Qaeda did. To implicate all of Islam for the actions of a few who twisted a great religion is unfair and un-American. Today we are not at war with Islam — we are at war with Al-Qaeda and other extremists who hate freedom.[snip]

The members of our military are men and women at arms — battling for hearts and minds. And their greatest weapon in that fight is the strength of our American values, which have always inspired people around the world. But if we do not practice here at home what we preach abroad — if we do not lead by example – we undermine our soldiers. We undermine our foreign policy objectives. And we undermine our national security.

While some of the cultural center’s other early supporters have backed away from their defense of the project, Bloomberg has emerged as perhaps the least fickle of its supporters. And he’s been hailed for that defense — locally, nationally and among the commentariat — even though a majority of the public opposes the Cordoba House’s proposed location.

Addressing those calling for a compromise location for the center, Bloomberg offered the logical rejoinder. “The question will then become, how big should the ‘no-mosque zone’ around the World Trade Center be?” he remarked. “There is already a mosque four blocks away. Should it too, be moved?”

However the debate ends, of course, there will be hard feelings. Still, the Mayor ended his remarks with an appeal to the lessons of history.

I know that many in this room are disturbed and dispirited by the debate. But it is worth keeping some perspective on the matter. The first colonial settlers came to these shores seeking religious liberty and the founding fathers wrote a constitution that guaranteed it. They made sure that in this country the government would not be permitted to choose between religions or favor one over another.

Nonetheless, it was not so long ago that Jews and Catholics had to overcome stereotypes and build bridges to those who viewed them with suspicion and less than fully American.

UPDATE: Video of Bloomberg’s speech is below.

 

The Untold Story Behind the “Mosque at Ground Zero”

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 20, 2010 by loonwatch

A powerful piece by Ahmed Rehab in the Huffington Post laying the bottom line about the swelling controversy surrounding the “mosque at Ground Zero.”  (hat tip: Schmorgus)

The Untold Story of the Mosque at Ground Zero

by Ahmed Rehab | Huffington Post

Americans have a right to assemble and worship freely in this country, period. It’s not only a founding principle of this nation, but a main justification for its founding. It is why many White Christians flooded to this country in the first place.

Those opposed to American Muslims practicing their right to build a religious and cultural center on their private property near Ground Zero and in concordance with all laws and regulations reluctantly concede that they have no legal grounds to challenge it. So they argue instead that they should voluntarily forgo their right out of sensitivity for the sacredness of that site.

2010-08-20-nomosquesign.jpgThis is a particularly disingenuous line.

If it is about sensitivity for the sacred, then why aren’t those same people opposing the deli, bar, coffee shop, and offices, or strip club for that matter, that are open for business in that same sacred vicinity?

What is particularly indecent or insensitive about American Muslims building a house of peace, community, and worship that doesn’t apply to the New York Dolls gentlemen’s club?

Let’s be blunt: it is only indecent and insensitive if you buy into the canard that American Muslims are somehow collectively guilty for 9/11. That is the coded message at the heart of opposition to the center. It is a message we reject on its face.

American Muslims bear no collective guilt or blame for the crime of 9/11. We have nothing to apologize for and everything to be proud of, including our loyalty and hard-earned livelihoods. We are not guest citizens, we are not second-rate citizens; we reject marginalization and require no validation. We are equal citizens living and worshipping in our country.

We are part and parcel of the diversity of America including the diversity of the 3,000 people who died on 9/11. We are part of the diversity of the hundreds who were injured and those who were first responders to Ground Zero. We are part of the diversity of the millions who grieved and still grieve. When “they” attacked “us,” we were attacked. We are part of the “us” not the “they.”

The whole brouhaha about the “Mosque at Ground Zero” is frankly bogus. It has little to do with sacred ground, or sensitive hearts. It does however have everything to do with the exploitation of the sacred and the sensitive for the furtherance of the sacrilegious and the insensitive: the phenomenon of Muslim-bashing that is ravaging our nation today.

The Cordoba House, now Park51, is an old story. In fact, it was reported on in the New York Times and other mainstream media as far back as two years ago. Why the frenzy now?

That’s not all: Muslims have been worshipping at Mosque Manhattan a few blocks away from Ground Zero, long before Ground Zero was Ground Zero; in fact, since 1970, before the twin towers were the twin towers.

So again, why the sudden frenzy?

Failure to ask “why” is a collective indictment of the media establishment (with a fewnotable exceptions). Just as the media shirked its responsibilities in questioning the Bush administration on the justifications for the war in Iraq, now too it fails to properly investigate, scrutinize, and report the origins of this controversy. Here is what it failed to tell you:

2010-08-20-spencer_geller.pngThe”Ground Zero Mosque” fiasco is a fabricated controversy that traces its origins to a couple of long-time anti-Muslim goons from the annals of the hate blogosphere by the names ofRobert Spencer and Pamela Geller as a flagship campaign of their newly founded organization,Stop the Islamization of America(SIOA). SIOA is part of an emerging phenomenon ofastroturf anti-Muslim organizations that seek to project any public expression of Muslim life in this country as tantamount to a stealth “Islamization of America.” (Except it’s not so stealth since everyone and their mother is talking about it).

It was SIOA that first coined the misnomer “Mosque at Ground Zero,” purposely twisting the reality that the proposed Muslim cultural center near Ground Zero is neither a Mosque nor at Ground Zero. It was the SIOA that sought to redefine Imam Rauf as a radical Imam even though he was heralded by the Bush administration, the FBI and others as a moderate voice of reason. It was the SIOA and its partners that ruthlessly sought to stoke the fears and suspicions of otherwise good, unsuspecting Americans.

The fact that bigots see fit to peddle sensational drivel for a living is not shocking.

The fact that the media is unwilling or incapable of calling it out is disturbing.

The fact that a significant segment of this population stands to be duped by it is disappointing.

And the fact that public officials who should know better are all too content pandering to the bigoted, misguided, and confused in search of votes this election season is outright nauseating.

Here’s another under reported fact:

The battle raging on now is not one that pits Muslims on one side and non-Muslims on the other as critics would have you believe. It is in fact a showdown between Americans of all backgrounds (Muslim and otherwise) who are fighting for the freedom and dignity of what it means to be American, on one side; and those who are willing to throw those values under the bus in exchange for publicity, notoriety, ratings, or votes, on the other.

It is a struggle between those wishing to affirm our pluralism and our equality as color-blind, race-blind, and faith-blind citizens and those wishing to immerse us into identity politics that make some more equal than others.

The Park51 battle is a microcosm of this generation’s struggle for the soul of America.

That’s the untold “Mosque at Ground Zero” story any red-blooded American journalist who still has respect for the integrity of the profession should be telling.

 

TIME: Majority Oppose Mosque, Distrust Muslims

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 20, 2010 by loonwatch

TIME has come out with a poll on the prevailing mood amongst Americans toward the mosque and toward their fellow Muslim citizens. What does this mean for the future of religious freedom and the failure of our leaders and the media in tackling this story?

Majority Oppose Mosque, and most Distrust Muslims

Opponents of the planned Islamic community center and mosque near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan have public opinion firmly in their corner. According to a new TIME poll, 61% of respondents oppose the construction of the Park51/Cordoba House project, compared to 26% who support it. More than 70% concur with the premise that proceeding with the plan would be an insult to the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center. Opposition to the project appears to derive largely from the conviction that the proposed site of the project — just two blocks from Ground Zero, in a building that formerly housed a Burlington Coat Factory outlet — is so close to “hallowed ground,” as President Obama put it.

Yet the survey also revealed that many Americans harbor lingering animosity toward Muslims. Twenty-eight percent of voters do not believe Muslims should be eligible to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Nearly one third of the country thinks adherents of Islam should be barred from running for President — slightly higher than the 24% who mistakenly believe that the current occupant of the Oval Office is himself a Muslim. In all, just 47% of respondents believe Obama is a Christian; 24% declined to respond to the question or said they were unsure, and 5% believe he is neither Christian nor Muslim. (See TIME’s photo-essay “Muslim in America.”)

And while more Americans are open to the idea of having a mosque built in their neighborhoods than near Ground Zero, it’s still not an overwhelming majority; 55% of respondents say they would favor the construction of an Islamic community center and mosque two blocks from their own homes, and an equal number say they believe most Muslims are “Patriotic Americans.”

As he attempts to shepherd the U.S. through the sluggish economic recovery and galvanize Democratic voters ahead of a congressional election cycle in which the party is expected to sustain heavy losses, Obama’s approval rating has held relatively steady, at a near-even split: 46% of respondents back his job performance, with 45% expressing disapproval. Voters are far less enthusiastic about the President’s policies, however, with 57% asserting the U.S. is headed in the wrong direction.

That wasn’t the only grim news for Democrats. The GOP has snatched the lead in generic Congressional balloting, with 43% of likely voters saying they would vote for a Republican candidate if the midterm elections were held today, compared to 37% for Democrats. (Last month, Democrats held a slight edge in generic balloting, 43%-42%.) While those figures augur well for the GOP, harping on the mosque issue — a tactic many Republicans appear to have embraced as the overheated debate nears a boiling point — seems unlikely to give the party’s fortunes a significant boost. Nearly three quarters of voters told TIME the issue will not have any impact on their decisions in the ballot box.(Read “Ground Zero: Exaggerating the Jihadist Threat.”)

While the poll revealed that prejudice toward Muslims is widespread, respect for other religions traditions remains sturdy. Respondents held the Jewish faith in the highest regard, with 75% professing to hold a favorable impression-just slightly higher than attitudes toward Protestants and Catholics. Fifty-seven percent say they have a favorable view of the Mormon faith, compared to 44% for Muslims. Despite (or perhaps because of) this widespread antipathy, 62% of respondents say they don’t personally know a Muslim American.

The poll, conducted by ABT SRBI, surveyed 1,002 adults — 89% of whom identified themselves as likely voters — on Aug. 16-17.

 

Salon.com: How the “Ground Zero Mosque” Fear mongering Began

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Blogs with tags , , , , , , , , on August 16, 2010 by loonwatch

Justin Elliot has a good piece on Salon.com, but he would have benefited from our pieces, Pamela Geller: The Looniest Blogger Ever and SIOA is an anti-Muslim Hate Group.

How the “ground zero mosque” fear mongering began

by Justin Elliot

A group of progressive Muslim-Americans plans to build an Islamic community center two and a half blocks from ground zero in lower Manhattan. They have had a mosque in the same neighborhood for many years. There’s another mosque two blocks away from the site. City officials support the project. Muslims have been praying at the Pentagon, the other building hit on Sept. 11, for many years.

In short, there is no good reason that the Cordoba House project should have been a major national news story, let alone controversy. And yet it has become just that, dominating the political conversation for weeks and prompting such a backlash that, according to a new poll, nearly 7 in 10 Americans now say they oppose the project. How did the Cordoba House become so toxic, so fast?

In a story last week, the New York Times, which framed the project in a largely positive, noncontroversial light last December, argued that it was cursed from the start by “public relations missteps.” But this isn’t accurate. To a remarkable extent, a Salon review of the origins of the story found, the controversy was kicked up and driven by Pamela Geller, a right-wing, viciously anti-Muslim, conspiracy-mongering blogger, whose sinister portrayal of the project was embraced by Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post.

Here’s a timeline of how it all happened:

  • Dec. 8, 2009: The Times publishes a lengthy front-page look at the Cordoba project. “We want to push back against the extremists,” Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the lead organizer, is quoted as saying. Two Jewish leaders and two city officials, including the mayor’s office, say they support the idea, as does the mother of a man killed on 9/11. An FBI spokesman says the imam has worked with the bureau. Besides a few third-tier right-wing blogs, including Pamela Geller’s Atlas Shrugs site, no one much notices the Times story.
  • Dec. 21, 2009: Conservative media personality Laura Ingraham interviews Abdul Rauf’s wife, Daisy Khan, while guest-hosting “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox. In hindsight, the segment is remarkable for its cordiality. “I can’t find many people who really have a problem with it,” Ingraham says of the Cordoba project, adding at the end of the interview, “I like what you’re trying to do.”
  • (This segment also includes onscreen the first use that we’ve seen of the misnomer “ground zero mosque.”) After the segment — and despite the front-page Times story — there were no news articles on the mosque for five and a half months, according to a search of the Nexis newspaper archive.
  • May 6, 2010: After a unanimous vote by a New York City community board committee to approve the project, the AP runs a story. It quotes relatives of 9/11 victims (called by the reporter), who offer differing opinions. The New York Post, meanwhile, runs a story under the inaccurate headline, “Panel Approves ‘WTC’ Mosque.” Geller is less subtle, titling her post that day, “Monster Mosque Pushes Ahead in Shadow of World Trade Center Islamic Death and Destruction.” She writes on her Atlas Shrugs blog, “This is Islamic domination and expansionism. The location is no accident. Just as Al-Aqsa was built on top of the Temple in Jerusalem.” (To get an idea of where Geller is coming from, she once suggested that Malcolm X was Obama’s real father. Seriously.)
  • May 7, 2010: Geller’s group, Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), launches “Campaign Offensive: Stop the 911 Mosque!” (SIOA ‘s associate director is Robert Spencer, who makes his living writing and speaking about the evils of Islam.) Geller posts the names and contact information for the mayor and members of the community board, encouraging people to write. The board chair later reports getting “hundreds and hundreds” of calls and e-mails from around the world.
  • May 8, 2010: Geller announces SIOA’s first protest against what she calls the “911 monster mosque” for May 29. She and Spencer and several other members of the professional anti-Islam industry will attend. (She also says that the protest will mark the dark day of “May 29, 1453, [when] the Ottoman forces led by the Sultan Mehmet II broke through the Byzantine defenses against the Muslim siege of Constantinople.” The outrage-peddling New York Post columnist Andrea Peyserargues in a note at the end of her column a couple of days later that “there are better places to put a mosque.”
  • May 13, 2010: Peyser follows up with an entire column devoted to “Mosque Madness at Ground Zero.” This is a significant moment in the development of the “ground zero mosque” narrative: It’s the first newspaper article that frames the project as inherently wrong and suspect, in the way that Geller has been framing it for months. Peyser in fact quotes Geller at length and promotes the anti-mosque protest of Stop Islamization of America, which Peyser describes as a “human-rights group.” Peyser also reports — falsely — that Cordoba House’s opening date will be Sept. 11, 2011.

Lots of opinion makers on the right read the Post, so it’s not surprising that, starting that very day, the mosque story spread through the conservative — and then mainstream — media like fire through dry grass. Geller appeared on Sean Hannity’s radio show. The Washington Examiner ran an outragedcolumn about honoring the 9/11 dead. So did Investor’s Business Daily. Smelling blood, the Post assigned news reporters to cover the ins and outs of the Cordoba House development daily. Fox News, the Post’s television sibling, went all out.

Within a month, Rudy Giuliani had called the mosque a “desecration.” Within another month, Sarah Palin had tweeted her famous “peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate” tweet. Peter King and Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty followed suit — with political reporters and television news programs dutifully covering “both sides” of the controversy.

Geller had succeeded beyond her wildest dreams.

 

Russia TV: Views About Mosque at Ground Zero from New Yorkers

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2010 by loonwatch

If you listened to Pamela and company who would’ve thought there were New Yorkers for the mosque and cultural center?

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBzK-bSkKzU&feature=related 350 300]

 

Barack Obama in Freedom of Religion Speech: Muslims Have a Right to Build in NYC

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2010 by loonwatch

Barack Obama commented on the Cordoba Center that will be near Ground Zero, reaffirming freedom of religion as an essential American value.

Islamophobes were furious about this. For many of them this probably confirmed their belief that Obama is a Muslim.

Robert Spencer was on record writing,

Obama is in effect saying that you can build a triumphal mosque marking Islam’s superiority and victory — which is how the Ground Zero mosque will be viewed in the Islamic world — and you can lie about your funding, and lie about your commitment to interreligious dialogue and harmony, and refuse to denounce jihad terrorists, and all that is just fine with him.

Pamela Geller had this to say through an SIOA news release,

Obama “has, in effect, sided with the Islamic jihadists and told the ummah (at an Iftar dinner on the third night of Ramadan) that he believes in and supports what will be understood in the Islamic world as a triumphal mosque on a site of Islamic conquest.”

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvFUakL-bqw 350 300]

Obama throws support behind controversial Islamic Center

Washington (CNN) — President Obama threw his support behind a controversial proposal to build an Islamic center and mosque near New York’s ground zero, saying Friday that “Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country.”

“That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances,” Obama said at a White House Iftar dinner celebrating the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The president’s remarks drew praise from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who announced his support for the Islamic center last week.

Bloomberg compared Obama’s speech to a letter President George Washington wrote in support of a Jewish congregation in Newport, Rhode Island. “President Obama’s words tonight evoked President Washington’s own august reminder that ‘all possess alike liberty,’ ” Bloomberg said in a statement.

“I applaud President Obama’s clarion defense of the freedom of religion tonight,” he said.

To learn more about the “ground zero” mosque, see CNN’s Belief Blog

Critics of the proposed Islamic center quickly denounced Obama’s remarks. “President Obama is wrong,” said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.). “It is insensitive and uncaring for the Muslim community to build a mosque in the shadow of Ground Zero. Unfortunately, the President caved into political correctness.”

“While the Muslim community has the right to build the mosque, they are abusing that right by needlessly offending so many people who have suffered so much,” King said in a statement. “The right and moral thing for President Obama to have done was to urge Muslim leaders to respect the families of those who died and move their mosque away from Ground Zero.”

What do you think about this issue? Tell us on video

Obama, who said he was speaking both as a citizen and as president, invoked the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which critics of the Islamic center cite as the main reason for preventing its construction.

“We must all recognize and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of lower Manhattan,” Obama said, according to his prepared remarks. “The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country.”

“The pain and suffering experienced by those who lost loved ones is unimaginable,” he continued. “So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. Ground zero is, indeed, hallowed ground.”

 

But Obama said one “reason that we will win this fight” against terrorism is “our capacity to show not merely tolerance, but respect to those who are different from us — a way of life that stands in stark contrast to the nihilism of those who attacked us on that September morning, and who continue to plot against us today.”

Repeatedly invoking the nation’s founders and examples of religious tolerance from American history, the president argued that national ideals and the Constitution demanded that the project proceed.

He noted that Thomas Jefferson hosted the the first Iftar dinner at the White House more than 200 years ago and said that the country had previously seen “controversies about the construction of synagogues or Catholic churches.”

“But time and again,” he said, “the American people have demonstrated that we can work through these issues.”

“This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable,” Obama said. “The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are. The writ of our Founders must endure.”

The proposed Islamic center has provoked vocal opposition from some families of 9/11 victims and other groups. Nearly 70 percent of Americans oppose the plan, according to CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll released Wednesday.

“Obama came out for the Islamic supremacist mosque at the hallowed ground of 911 attack,” Pamela Geller, a leading foe of the Islamic center, wrote on her blog Friday night. “He has, in effect, sided with the Islamic jihadists.”

Muslim Americans, meanwhile, applauded the speech. “It was pitch perfect and it was cut and dry,” said Eboo Patel, executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core and a Muslim adviser to the White House on faith issues. “He said that our Founding Fathers built a nation on religious freedom where people from different faiths can pray and thrive and that is that.”

Some Muslims said they were surprised to hear the president weigh in on the controversy.

“It’s such a hot potato and he’s already got so much on his plate and people jumping on him for any hint of an Islamic connection,” said Akbar Ahmed, an American University professor who attended Friday’s White House dinner. “But he plunged in and took a very bold position.”

The Islamic center’s leaders say they plan to build the $100 million, 13-story facility called Cordoba House three blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks. The developer, Sharif El-Gamal, describes the project as an “Islamic community center” that will include a 500-seat performing arts center, a lecture hall, a swimming pool, a gym, a culinary school, a restaurant and a prayer space for Muslims.

On Wednesday, the project’s developers declined an offer by New York Gov. David Paterson to relocate the project to a state-owned site.

Earlier this month, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously denied landmark status for the building where the proposed Islamic center would stand, allowing the project to move forward.

 

Pamela Geller Falsely Claims Imam Rauf Made Comment “Blaming Jews” for 9/11

Posted in Loon Blogs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 12, 2010 by loonwatch
Plastic Pam or Catwoman?

Pamela Geller accused Imam Rauf of “blaming Jews for 9/11,” which is just more lies from her and her cronies. Media Matters exposes their lies.

Geller falsely claims Imam Rauf made comment blaming “the Jews” for 9-11

Pam Geller falsely claimed that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who is heading an initiative to build an Islamic community center in Manhattan, once blamed “the Jews” for 9-11 and said, “If Americans only know it was the Jews’ fault, they would have done to the Jews what Hitler did.” But those comments have been widely attributed to Sheik Muhammed Gemeaha, a one-time imam at the Islamic Cultural Center in New York City who  reportedly made those inflammatory comments after resigning and returning to Egypt in 2001. Center officials roundly condemned the comments.

Geller accused Rauf of making the comments with the following headline:

rauf

But in a November 4, 2001, New York Times Magazine piece, Jonathan Rosen attributed the comments to Gemeaha: “Recently, I read an interview with Sheik Muhammad Gemeaha — who was not only the representative in the United States of the prominent Cairo center of Islamic learning, al-Azhar University, but also imam of the Islamic Cultural Center of New York City. The sheik, who until recently lived in Manhattan on the Upper West Side, explained that ‘only the Jews’ were capable of destroying the World Trade Center and added that ‘if it became known to the American people, they would have done to Jews what Hitler did.’ ” Gemeaha reportedly made his comments to the websitewww.lailatalqadr.com and translated excerpts were posted by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

As Rosen noted, by November 2001, Gemeaha no longer lived in New York City. The Times reportedon October 23, 2001, that Gemeaha had “moved his family back to Cairo” and had “sent a letter of resignation to the mosque.” The Times further reported that members of the mosque’s board condemned his comments:

Neither The Times nor the sheik’s associates at the mosque in Manhattan were able to reach him in Cairo to ask him about the remarks attributed to him. But colleagues said that if he made the comments, they would be a dramatic turnaround for a Muslim leader who was a mainstay at interfaith events with New York’s rabbis and ministers.

”It does not represent at all the policy and the beliefs of the Islamic Cultural Center, nor what Imam Gemeaha was teaching the Islamic community during his three and a half years here,” said Mohammad Abdullah Abulhasan, Kuwait’s ambassador to the United Nations, who heads the mosque’s board. ”It really took me by surprise to see this.”

Rauf serves as a member of the Islamic Center’s board of trustees.

Geller has since updated her post. No longer directly attributing the comments to Rauf, Geller now excerpts the comments, attributes them to no one, and then purports to provide “more ugly dirt on radical Imam Rauf”:

rauf2

*Correction: I previously wrote that Gemeaha reportedly made the comments before resigning and returning to Egypt. I regret the error.