Archive for Richard Bartholomew

Barth’s Notes: Hypocrisy from Thomas More Law Center on Kamal Saleem and Free Speech

Posted in Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , on May 5, 2012 by loonwatch

Kamal Saleem has his scared face on

Good piece by Richard Bartholomew on the manipulative tactics of the Thomas More Law Center and Kamal Saleem:

Hypocrisy from Thomas More Law Center on Kamal Saleem and Free Speech

by Richard Bartholomew

From Wood TV, 27 January:

ALLEGAN, Mich. (WOOD) – Rep. Dave Agema told 24 Hour News 8 he thinks Allegan’s police chief overreacted when he shut down an event the representative and a self-proclaimed former terrorist were both speaking at.

Allegan City Police Chief Rick Hoyer told 24 Hour News 8, he didn’t find out there was a bounty on the head of Kamal Saleem, until his speech at Allegan High School was already underway.

…Hoyer said Commissioner [Willis] Sage actually walked up to one of his officers during the event and told him that Saleem had a $25 million dollar bounty. That officer, a sergeant on the force, checked out the information with Saleem’s body guard. When the armed body guard confirmed it, telling police that Islamic terrorists who follow the teaching of the Quran that have been directed to behead Saleem, that’s when Hoyer said they took action.

Hoyer perhaps did misjudge the situation – but he found himself himself having to make a immediate decision on a matter of public safety based on information given to him at the last moment. It appears that Saleem was a victim of his own self-publicity;  the obvious question is why, if the “$25 million” bounty really exists, Saleem is not under round-the-clock police guard, in the same way that Salman Rushdie was for many years.

The Thomas More Law Center has now put its own spin on the event in Allegan, as it announces a lawsuit:

Amid shouts of “What about free speech?” from the audience, the Allegan Police Department ordered the event shut-down.   School officials notified police that they had received a letter complaining about the event from Dawud Walid, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI).   The letter asked the school to disallow the event despite an existing contract.  CAIR was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism funding trial in U. S. history, U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation.

…TMLC’s federal lawsuit was brought on behalf of State Representative David Agema; a chapter leader of ACT! for America, Elizabeth Griffin; Allegan County Commissioner, Willis Sage; and Mark Gurley, one of the event sponsors.

In fact, the TMLC’s lawsuit stinks of bad faith – and here’s why:

193. Defendants’ pretextual claim that the free speech event needed to be shut down subverts the true cause for the closing of the free speech event: complying with the demands of  hecklers, evidenced by the letter of Defendants CAIR, People For the American Way, Walid, and Keegan, and valuing the heckler’s veto over Constitutional freedoms of Plaintiffs.

…225. Defendants CAIR, [Dawud] Walid, People For the American Way, and[Michael] Keegan intentionally interfered with the Contract by sending a letter to Defendant [Kevin] Harness requesting  that the School District breach its Contract with Plaintiffs.

226. Defendants CAIR, Walid, People For the American Way, and Keegan improperly interfered with the Contract.

First, there is no evidence that Hoyer acted on any “letter” that was sent to the School District – why would he? And if so, why would he have allowed the event to get underway in the first place? But more substantively, the TMLC is seeking to punish groups and individuals for daring to contact the School District with their concerns about Saleem. Neither CAIR nor PFAW had any decision-making power over whether the event went ahead – the only reason they are included in the lawsuit is because TMLC wishes to suppress free speech while pretending to uphold it. It’s a SLAPP, and utter humbug.

In fact, there are very good public interest reasons for interested parties and concerned individuals to have contacted the School District – and PFAW’s liberal political perspective or troubling allegations about some of CAIR’s associations are irrelevant. Saleem presents himself as an ex-terrorist turned Christian whistleblower, when in fact his back-story is extremely dubious, and his claim to be an expert on Islam cannot be taken seriously. A couple of weeks ago, for instance, he spoke a Christian Right/conservative conflab called The Awakening 2012; as Right Wing Watch has documented, he used the occasion (standing alongside Frank Gaffney) to allege that when Obama appears to pledge allegiance to the flag, he holds his hand in a special way which shows that in reality he is praying to Allah. Saleem also statedthat Roe vs Wade was part of a plot to establish shariah, and that plans to reform immigration law involves “sending money to Hamas” in order to import Muslims, with the result “this world will become past tense and one day we’ll be wearing ragheads”. Such extravagances speak for themselves – and demonstrate that Saleem’s presence degrades the dignity any educational setting.

In 2010, Saleem was debunked in a piece published in Books & Culture, a sister publication of the evangelical Christianity Today. According to the article’s author, Doug Howard:

I first encountered Kamal Saleem when he appeared at Calvin College in November 2007. A look at his website told me immediately that he was not who he said he was. The signature of his deception was his statement that “in my family was the Grand Wazir of Islam.” The term is ridiculous, a spurious title meant to mislead the innocent with an aura of authority.

…In The Blood of Lambs, Kamal Saleem writes, “I wanted to be like Bond.” In these pages he is Bond, James Bond, in size 6X. He gets those emphatic rivals, the PLO and the Muslim Brotherhood, both to recruit him. He recalls the intricate details of raids he carried out at age seven. Abu Jihad himself teaches him how to use an AK-47. He is shown off by Yasser Arafat as a model warrior. In Libya at age 14 he has Muammar Qaddafi gushing in gratitude. In Iraq, he waves to Saddam Hussein… Even if one were disposed to give these entertaining claims the benefit of the doubt, the book’s frequent mistakes give the reader pause. The Islamic umma does not mean one world government, and it is not “coming.” The PLO was a secular organization even though Yasser Arafat prayed and quoted the Qur’an.

Further details appear in a recent article in Mother Jones:

Saleem claims that the Muslim Brotherhood has put a $25 million bounty on his head, and that there have been attempts to earn it: After a 2007 event in Chino Hills, California, he writes in his book, he returned to his Holiday Inn to find his room ransacked and a band of dangerous Middle Easterners on his trail. Saleem describes calling the police to alert them to an assassination attempt. Local law enforcement, however, has no record of any such incident.

The same article contains a quote from someone who knew Saleem in the USA before he was famous:

…[Wally] Winter recalls his former roommate as a devout Muslim whose yarns often lapsed into wild exaggeration. “He could sell swampland in Louisiana,” Winter says. “I really do not believe the story about the terrorism. I totally believe that he would make up something like that to either make money or become well known.”

The City of Allegan, meanwhile, has issued a statement, as reported by MLive:

Attorney Scott Smith, representing Allegan, said in a statement that the city has not been served with the lawsuit, but he reviewed it this morning. It names the city, police chief, police officers, school officials and two advocacy groups as defendants.

…”This lawsuit is disappointing in many ways,” Smith wrote. “It is based on conjecture, logical fallacies, and, more disappointingly, factual inaccuracies. The plaintiffs did not even spell one of the defendants’ names correctly. It is disappointing that the lawsuit wrongly imputes motives to the police officers.”

He said he was disappointed that the lawsuit was filed. He said the city cooperated with Thomas More as it sought information about the Jan. 26 event.

“The City quickly provided the requested information and offered to address any other questions or concerns the Thomas More Law Center or its client might have. But, without any further inquiries or any attempts to address the plaintiffs’ concerns, a lawsuit was filed. If, as seems to be alleged by the complaint, its sole purpose is to ensure the defendants respect First Amendment rights, a lawsuit was unnecessary.”

UPDATE: I note that one of the the plaintiffs, Mark Gurley, is a pastor (at the Healing Rooms of Grand Rapids), and he is a member Rick Joyner’s Christian Right group theOak Initiative. He’s also a birther.

Barth’s Notes: More Endorsements for “Islamic Antichrist” Theory

Posted in Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , on March 27, 2012 by loonwatch

joel-richardson_Shariah

Joel Richardson trying to make $$$ off of Islam and Muslims

Last time we checked in on the nutty Joel Richardson he was fear-mongering about the Muslamic “anti-Christ” alongside Zuhdi Jasser on Glenn Beck’s old TV show, looks like he is continuing such efforts:

More Endorsements for “Islamic Antichrist” Theory

(Barth’s Notes)

Joel Richardson (widely known as “Glenn Beck’s End-Times Prophet“) has a new book coming out in the autumn: Mideast Beast: The Scriptural Case For an Islamic Antichrist. One might have thought that the well would be dry by now, but the author of The Islamic Antichrist: The Shocking Truth about the Real Nature of the Beast (previously published in 2006 as Antichrist: Islam’s Awaited Messiah) has apparently managed to milk the subject further.

As before, the prophetic tome will be published by Joseph Farah’s WND Books, and Richardson’s website lists a number of endorsements: Chuck Missler of Koinonia House, who praises Richardson’s “sharp sword of diligent scholarship”; Walter C. Kaiser of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, who tells us there is “much to commend this argument for a final Islamic Empire”; Daniel Juster, Founding President of Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations and Director of Tikkun International, who advises that “prophecy teachers would do well to ask if he his not giving us a new way to look at the prophecies of the last days”; Joshua Lingel, adjunct professor of Christian apologetics to Islam at  Biola University, who judges that “Joel Richardson’s thesis cuts to the core of the issues at stake”; and, among others, Billy Humphrey, of the House of Prayer Atlanta Missions Base, who sees “a compelling argument for the Islamic Antichrist position”.

Missler is a veteran in the Bible “prophecy teacher” circuit, and he regularly takes partin events with WND‘s Jospeh Farah; Kaiser, by contrast, is an evangelical with a more scholarly reputation, and he has published in mainstream academic journals. Juster is a significant figure within Messianic Judaism; Lingel was featured on this blog recently when I discussed evangelical worries about “Chrislam”. The “House of Prayer Atlanta Missions Base” has a website here.

Richardson’s previous “Muslim Antichrist” books also come with blurbs; these are mostly by pastors and the owners of apocalyptic websites, along Phil Roberts, the then-president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (“this volume will immerse you in end times, Islamic style”). Both previous books were also graced with cover quotes from Robert Spencer. A number of endorsements are also listed on Richardson’s website, and include Walid Shoebat (blogged here) and Ergun Caner (blogged here).

However, Richardson is generous enough not to want the whole field to himself; he in turn recently endorsed a book by a certain Mark Davidson, entitled Hidden in Plain Sight: The Signposts of the Coming of the Antichrist Revealed.Davidson’s specialty appears to be the splicing together of Biblical symbolism with events of the past few years. Here’s a taste:

The First Signpost would certainly include the ending of the career of the rider on the white horse. That happened early on in America’s occupation of Iraq. Entering Iraq in March 2003 and toppling Saddam in April 2003, American forces finally captured him in December 2003.

Any end of the First Signpost would also include a withdrawal of the force used in Daniel 7 that made the lion stand on its hind legs and replaced its heart. Iraq, the former lion with wings, is now standing erect somewhat like a man, and indeed has a heart of a man, rather than that of a beast. That unnamed source of the force in Daniel 7 was the United States and its international coalition.

It should be noted, though, that not all Christian Right prophecy pundits are enthusiasts of the “Islamic Antichrist” theory – Hal Lindsey, who made his name by offering up a European Anti-Christ for 1970s evangelicals, reportedly complains that Richardson’s position is a “lie”. I suspect that 20 years from now Richardson will be pronouncing similar anathemas against prophecy books proving the existence of a Chinese Anti-Christ.

2006

1991

1988

1974

etc, etc…

MEQ Report Claims 81 Per Cent of US Mosques Promote “Violent Jihad”

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2011 by loonwatch

A good article from Richard Bartholomew on a “recent” report by Middle East Quarterly (part of Daniel Pipes Middle East Forum) that 81% of US mosques promote violent jihad. This is the same number that Islamophobes have been promoting for years now.

The report is filled with methodological flaws.

MEQ Report Claims 81 Per Cent of US Mosques Promote “Violent Jihad”

by Richard Bartholomew

At the American Thinker and Big Peace, Andrew Bostom discusses  ”Sharia and Violence in American Mosques”, a new article  by Mordechai Kedar and David Yerushalmi published the Middle East Quarterly (Summer 2011, Vol. 18, No. 3, pp. 59-72). The somewhat inflammatory title is par for the course: Yerushalmi (perhaps best-known as Pamela Geller’s lawyer) is the brains behind the ideologically-driven “Mapping Shariah” project, which has a number of methodological problems that I outlined here. The paper is being published today; it appears that Bostom has been given an advance copy.

According to quotes in Bostom’s post (itself a diatribe entitled “Mosques as Barracks in America”), a number of US mosques were chosen at random,

(a) to observe and record 12 Sharia-adherent behaviors of the worshipers and the imam (or lay leader); (b) to observe whether the mosque contained the selected materials rated as moderate and severe; (c) to observe whether the mosque contained materials promoting, praising, or supporting violence or violent jihad; and (d) to observe whether the mosque contained materials indicating the mosque had invited guest speakers known to have promoted violent jihad.

Findings:

51 percent of mosques had texts that either advocated the use of violence in the pursuit of a Shari’a-based political order or advocated violent jihad as a duty that should be of paramount importance to a Muslim; 30 percent had only texts that were moderately supportive of violence like the Tafsir Ibn Kathir and Fiqh as-Sunna; 19 percent had no violent texts at all.

…The survey found a strong correlation between the presence of severe violence-promoting literature and mosques featuring written, audio, and video materials that actually promoted such acts. By promotion of jihad, the study included literature encouraging worshipers to engage in terrorist activity, to provide financial support to jihadists, and to promote the establishment of a caliphate in the United States. These materials also explicitly praised acts of terror against the West; praised symbols or role models of violent jihad; promoted the use of force, terror, war, and violence to implement the [strange gap here – RB] Sharia; emphasized the inferiority of non-Muslim life; promoted hatred and intolerance toward non-Muslims or notional Muslims; and endorsed inflammatory materials with anti-U.S. views… [O]f the 51 mosques that contained severe materials, 100 percent were led by imams who recommended that worshipers study texts that promote violence.

[M]osques containing violence positive materials were substantially more likely to include materials promoting financial support of terror than mosques that did not contain such texts. A disturbing 98 percent of mosques with severe texts included materials promoting financial support of terror. Those with only moderate rated materials on site were not markedly different, with 97 percent providing such materials.

These results were comparable when using other indicators of jihad promotion. Thus, 98 percent of mosques that contained severe-rated literature included materials promoting establishing an Islamic caliphate in the United States as did 97 percent of mosques containing only moderate rated materials.

Further details on methodology are provided in an Appendix, which has been posted on-line here. The list of “Sharia Adherent Behaviors” includes: “gender segregation during prayer service”, “alignment of men’s prayer lines”, the imam’s beard style, whether the imam has a head covering or not or is wearing Western-style clothing, and whether the imam wears a watch on his right wrist. Also significant is the percentage of men wearing beards or hats, whether boys have head-coverings, and whether girls and women are wearing hijabs or niqabs – “Non-Shari’a-adherent behavior”, we are told, “is to wear the modern hijab (a scarf that does not completely cover the hair) or to not wear any hair”.

For reasons that are not immediately clear, we then segue into the issue of violence, as the list continues:

If the surveyor found the Fiqh as-Sunna or Tafsir Ibn Kathir, but not more extreme materials, then the mosque was categorized as containing moderate-rated material. If the surveyor found the Riyadh as-Salaheen, works by Qutb or Mawdudi, or similar materials, then the mosque was categorized as containing severe-rated materials.

If the surveyor found no violence-positive materials or if the violence-positive materials constituted less than 10% of all available materials, then the mosque was categorized as containing no materials.

…Following the prayer service, the surveyor asked the following question: “Do you recommend the study of: (a) only the Quran and/or Sunna; (b) Tafsir Ibn Kathir; (c) Fiqh as-Sunna; (e) Reliance of the Traveller; or (f) the works of Qutb, such as Milestones, and Maududi, such as The Meaning of the Qur’an?”

If the imam or lay leader recommended studying any of the materials mentioned above except the Qur’an and/or Sunna, then the imam or lay leader was recorded as having recommended the study of texts promoting the rated material.

The “10%” principle here is a welcome nod towards proportionality, but it’s undermined by what follows. The Reliance of the Traveller and the Tafsir Ibn Kathirare both pre-modern compendiums of Islamic law; of course they contain some troubling material, like many other pre-modern texts. But they also contain a lot else: we need to understand why the imams recommend these texts, not just note that they do and therefore chalk up one more extremist. It’s also unclear whether the imams are being asked about their general recommendation practices in relation to these texts or whether they are simply advising the questioner.

Further:

If materials available on mosque premises promoted joining a known terrorist organization, such as “mujahideen” engaged in jihad abroad, then the mosque was recorded as having promoted joining a terrorist organization.

That may seems reasonable so far as it goes, but again it begs a lot of questions. Some general sympathy for a mujahideen group involved in military conflict in somewhere in central Asia is a very different proposition from supporting al-Qaeda, so we need more than just a broad-brush “terrorism” label if we are to understand what is going on and why. And we need to know more about how the materials are made available, and in what ways they are promoted. Are leaflets given out to attendees, or is “promotion” simply an obscure poster pinned to an unmoderated noticeboard somewhere on the premises? There’s scope for various interpretations there.

If materials available on mosque premises indicated that speakers came to the mosque to raise money for specific terrorist organizations, then the mosque was recorded as having openly collected money at the mosque for a known terrorist organization.

…If any of the materials featured on mosque property promoted engaging in terrorist activity; promoted the financial support of terrorism or jihadists; promoted the use of force, terror, war, and violence to implement Shari‘a; promoted the idea that oppression and subversion of Islam should be changed by deed first, then by speech, then by faith; praised acts of terrorism against the West; or praised suicide bombers against Israelis, then the mosque was recorded as having promoted violent jihad.

This raises further questions: are we talking about organisations which are banned under US law, or organisations around which there are suspicions (reasonable or contrived) of links to terrorism?

We all know that some mosques in the USA and elsewhere promote radicalisation and extremism. We also know that others need to do more to ensure that radical elements do not gain a toe-hold. But this kind of inquisitorial and quantitative approach is of very limited value and is probably even misleading. If one wants to know whether a mosque “promotes jihad”, one needs to get a sense of the overall teaching and the general perspectives of those who attend. Simply totting up whether an undercover visitor can spot or elicit something troubling is an insufficient methodology. And what purpose is served by mixing all this in with a list “Sharia Adherent Behaviors”, other than to give Muslim cultural practices a sinister hue?

The Middle East Quarterly has a note on its peer-review process here. Previously, it rejected peer-review on the grounds that most specialists were not interested in “American interests” or were hostile to USA; however:

…In 2009, circumstances have begun to change. This journal finds itself part of a growing community of specialists not hostile to the United States and its allies. As other journals and organizations have joined our ranks, they increased the circle of those with professional and expert knowledge of the Middle East and created a larger pool of reviewers to engage in a constructive process of refereeing.

Richard Bartholomew on the New York Mosque Protest

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , on June 9, 2010 by loonwatch

(cross-posted from Barth’s Notes)

by Richard Bartholomew

Apparently this was said with a straight face at Sunday’s anti-mosque protest in New York:

“We’re not here today to condemn Muslims or Islam” said Pamela Geller, executive director of ‘Stop the Islamization of America’, “but we are here today to condemn the kind of mosque that will teach the very same radical ideology that gave birth to the 9/11 attacks…”

As has been widely reported, Geller was speaking at a protest against plans to build a mosque and Muslim community centre a couple of blocks away from the site of World Trade Center. A few days before, Geller had thundered that

“The only Muslim center that should be built in the shadow of the World Trade Center is one that is devoted to expunging the Quran and all Islamic teachings of the violent jihad that they prescribe, as well as all hateful texts and incitement to violence”

Of course, this isn’t a statement made in good faith: a Muslim center with an “expunged” Quran makes about as much sense as a church with the anti-Jewish parts of the New Testament expunged or a synagogue with the more sanguinary passages of the Torah expunged – ancient religious texts may be re-interpreted or contextualised in ways that make them more amenable to the modern world, but they are seldom repudiated by adherents.

Some background to the Cordoba House Muslim centre project was provided by the WSJ‘sMetropolis blog in May:

The project is driven in part by the needs of a growing Muslim population in Lower Manhattan. The nearest existing Islamic prayer space, the Tribeca Mosque, has been holding three evening prayer services on Fridays to keep up with demand.

“New immigrants coming to the area — you see a lot of people coming to Canal Street, a lot of street vendors and laborers,” says Daisy Kahn, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement. “But also a lot of people in the financial community coming to prayers as well.”

When Kahn’s organization found a vacant property on Park Place, the former site of a Burlington Coat Factory that had been damaged by airplane debris on September 11, 2001, the potent symbolism of the site also became a compelling rationale for the project. “We decided we wanted to look at the legacy of 9/11 and do something positive,” she explained in an interview. Her group represents moderate Muslims who want “to reverse to trend of extremism and the kind of ideology that the extremists are spreading.”

For Geller and her Stop Islamization of America organization (currently on a roll following the “Leaving Islam?” bus-ad controversy), this is all a ruse – the purpose of the mosque is to gloat over the site of the World Trade Center and to establish Muslim supremacy over America; as reported by the LondonTimes:

“What could be more insulting and humiliating than a monster mosque in the shadow of the World Trade Centre buildings that were brought down by an Islamic jihad attack?” said Pamela Geller, the group’s director. “Any decent American, Muslim or otherwise, wouldn’t dream of such an insult. It’s a stab in the eye of America.”

Ms Geller’s group said that Islam had a history of building mosques on top of the holy places of other religions as a symbol of Muslim dominance. It cited al-Aqsa Mosque on top of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Ayasofya Mosque in the former Hagia Sophia basilica in Istanbul, and the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus atop what was once the Church of St John the Baptist.

The Times refered to an “anti-Muslim backlash”, which Geller objected to as a “lie” (Geller’s ally Robert Spencer does occasionally refer positively to “Muslims of conscience”, but how exactly they are to be defined is unclear).

Khan’s quote – slightly re-edited – has also been turned against her in a press release:

Daisy Khan has trivialized and insulted the memories of the victims of the 9/11 jihad attacks by saying that the mosque is intended to “make something positive out of 9/11.”

We’re also told that

…Ground Zero mosque Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is an open proponent of Sharia, Islamic law, a system that denies the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and the equality of rights of all people before the law.

Abdul Rauf has said that “an Islamic state can be established in more then just a single form or mold. It can be established through a kingdom or a democracy. The important issue is to establish the general fundamentals of Shariah that are required to govern.” Thus it is clear that this mosque will teach Sharia, Islamic supremacism, and the denial of basic rights.

Abdul Rauf and other mosque organizers have been inconsistent and deceptive about whether their planned Islamic Center at Ground Zero will contain a mosque; ultimately they have admitted that it will. Belying his claim that this mosque will become a place for interreligious harmony, he has told the Arabic press: “I don’t believe in religious dialogue.”

This information was provided by Walid Shoebat (who was not at the protest himself);  it seems he’s realised that he needs to come up with some new material if he’s going to keep his profile up. However, even Shoebat’s article puts the “religious dialogue” comment into some context; in his translation, it refers to:

Religious dialogue as customarily understood is a set of events with discussions in large hotels that result in nothing.

From the Google translation of Shoebat’s source, it appears that Rauf goes on to praise American diversity and to criticise Egypt. But whether Rauf is secretly an extremist is hardly the main point – it is clear that SIOA objects to any mosque in principle.

The protest itself brought together the usual “anti-jihad” activists, along with a few 9/11 rescue workers and bereaved family members – Geller has posted a number of speeches. The event also gave a politician named Jay Townsend an opportunity to grandstand, and there was an attack on Obama from a certain Bev Carlson, who insisted that America is a “Christian nation”.

The size of the rally has been disputed; a journalist named Mike Kelly puts the figure at 500, Geller herself has declared there were 8,000, while WorldNetDaily rounds the number up to 10,000. Sentiments expressed on some of the protest signs made further mockery of Geller’s claim that “we are not here today to condemn Muslims or Islam”, and Kelly notes one telling incident:

At one point, a portion of the crowd menacingly surrounded two Egyptian men who were speaking Arabic and were thought to be Muslims.

“Go home,” several shouted from the crowd.

“Get out,” others shouted.

In fact, the two men – Joseph Nassralla and Karam El Masry — were not Muslims at all. They turned out to be Egyptian Coptic Christians who work for a California-based Christian satellite TV station called “The Way.” Both said they had come to protest the mosque.

“I’m a Christian,” Nassralla shouted to the crowd, his eyes bulging and beads of sweat rolling down his face.

But it was no use. The protesters had become so angry at what they thought were Muslims that New York City police officers had to rush in and pull Nassralla and El Masry to safety.

“I flew nine hours in an airplane to come here,” a frustrated Nassralla said afterward.

Ahead of the protest, there were various objections, ranging from some Muslim criticisms of the project through to the most vitriolic spewing. As was widely reported, a Texas radio host named Michael Berry expressed the hope that the mosque would be bombed, and his excess was matched by the Tea Party leader Mark Williams, who denounced the Manhattan Borough President, Scott Stringer, as “a Jewish Uncle Tom who would have turned rat on Anne Frank” because he supports the project. Across the Atlantic, atheist comedian Pat Condell fired off another of his hectoring (and curiously joke-free) rants, insisting (I paraphrase) that the mosque was obviously being built to celebrate 9/11 and as part of a strategy to take over the USA, that Islam ought to be suppressed as a political ideology akin to Nazism, and that anyone who can’t see this is a fool (Condell objects to religion in general as being authoritarian and supported by people who are self-righteous).

The Forward carried a thoughtful editorial on the subject a few weeks ago. While backing the project, it notes that

Some families of those who perished on September 11, 2001, have displayed great courage by supporting the proposal to create a 13-story hub for Muslim religious and cultural life, two blocks north of where the twin towers stood. But other families have not and — unlike some of the bigots who oppose the project for unjustifiable reasons — their qualms and resistance need to be respected.

But with so much overheated rhetoric on the subject, it is difficult to see how the project organisers could make any revisions to their plans without opponents trumpeting alterations as climb-downs that supposedly prove extremist intent.

Meanwhile, Geller’s motives have been derided by her equally-unpleasant rival “anti-jihadist” Debbie Schlussel; she dismisses the protest as “a cleverly designed PR vehicle”, and claims that Geller is expressing

…faux-outrage in a “battle” that we already know won’t be won.  It’s already lost.  They have the property.  Move on to something we can win, not a… attention-whore trick, just weeks before her book is about to be released and needs to earn back a bloated advance.  If you think it’s anything other than this, you are a malleable tool, easily manipulated and not of much substance.

Schlussel, who has been in a feud with Geller for some time, also makes reference to the p0lice investigation into Geller’s ex-husband’s business affairs (I noted Geller’s book – which has a Foreword by John Bolton – here).

(S0me links H/T Loonwatch)

UPDATE: Ed Brayton has some fun with one detail:

Geller added, “There is a large piece of an airplane in that building. That is a war memorial”… That’s funny, there were pieces of airplane and debris in pretty much every building for many blocks in every direction after 9/11. And yet the only one she demands be made into a museum is the one owned by Muslims.