The ground zero mosque, which is stirring such a sandstorm in New York City, isn't so popular in certain precincts of the Middle East, either. Some Muslims there think President Obama and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York are nuts. Impotent and irresolute, too.
Some of the believers in Arabia say the mosque is a conspiracy hatched by the Jews to set out a clear and permanent connection between Sept. 11 and Islam, a constant reminder of an attack on America led by devout Muslims. Dr. Abd al-Muti Bayumi, a prominent fellow of the Islamic Research Academy of Al Azhar, sometimes regarded as "the Vatican of Sunni Islam," says the construction of a mosque anywhere near ground zero is the child of a "devious mentality" to connect the dots of Sept. 11 and Islam, to stoke memories of barbarism in the name of Islam.
Another Arab notable, Dr. Amna Nazir, a professor of doctrine and philosophy at Al Azhar, calls "building a mosque on this rubble indicates bad intention — even if we wished to shut our eyes, close our minds and insist on good will." These are not the empty sentiments of good will and sensitivity so beloved of the girly men of the West. Rather, they are statements of concern that "Zionist conspiracy" aid in construction of the ground zero mosque will ultimately damage Islam. Dr. Bayumi, for one, preaches suicidal jihad to demonstrate that his heart is in the wrong place: "I say in all honesty that we recruit the people of Islam, and instill in them the spirit of the true jihad, which is death for the sake of Allah, for the sake of our faith."
The skepticism and hostility in Arabia to building the ground zero mosque — and until recently the proposed mosque was bigger news in the Middle East than in Minneapolis or Memphis — contrasts sharply with the enthusiasm of Muslims for the project in America. What do Muslims in Arabia know that Muslims in America don't?
Sounds like a lot. Raymond Ibrahim, associate director of the Middle East Forum, author of "The Al Qaeda Reader" and guest lecturer at the National Defense Intelligence College, thinks it's a result of culture and geography: "I believe it has to do with the differing mentalities of Western, or 'indigenous,' Muslims. The [indigenous Muslims], who have had little experience of the West, simply cannot believe that Muslims [in America] would be so foolhardy as to pursue such an obvious affront to their host nation." An indigenous Muslim can't believe that even an infidel nation would tolerate the insult. He knows what a similar insult, such as the construction of a Christian chapel in Saudi Arabia, would invite in an Islamic country. Not knowing very much about the world, he expects a similar result from the infidels.
Muslims in the West, on the other hand, have learned to game the system in the West, particularly in America, where the elites' thirst for moonshine seems unquenchable. Muslim troublemakers have learned to expect apologies and excuses for anything they do so long as they invoke the right liberal weasel words, such as "tolerance" or "pluralism" or "dialogue." They've learned that talk of "building bridges," particularly if the bridges lead to nowhere, are preferred fare in the salons of the elites. Insulting Americans invites only apologies, accompanied by abundant bowing and curtsying. George W. Bush went to the Islamic Center in Washington only six days after Sept. 11 to preach that "Islam is peace," that "when we think of Islam, we think of a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world."
Too bad for both George W. and Islam, but that's not what most people have come to think of. You couldn't expect Michael R. Bloomberg to understand any of this, but Barack Obama, the son and stepson of Muslims who received his early education in Islamic schools, must know better. He should be familiar with the Islamic worldview that warm and fuzzy feel-good talk — what we once called "appeasement" — correctly invites contempt from men with strongly held conviction, however evil that conviction might be.
The American elites no longer understand strongly held convictions, good or evil, religious or political. The church and synagogue is only a place for rites and ritual, a place to marry your daughters and bury your dead. But devout Muslims really believe. They never apologize for who they are or what they believe. They have only contempt for the platitudes they have learned to use so effectively in hoodwinking the West — and for presidents who peddle the moonshine.
• Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.
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