America is surrendering in the war against radical Islam. This is the real meaning behind the decision to build a 13-story mosque and Mus- lim cultural center 600 feet from the site of ground zero. A New York City panel gave the green light Tuesday for the project - despite intense resistance from many families of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Most New Yorkers and Americans do not want this mosque erected: It will be a symbolic monument to the triumph of Islamism in the United States.
Ground zero is more than where the World Trade Center came crashing down. It is not simply where an immense crime took place. Rather, it is the site of an act of war, hallowed ground that contains the blood of 3,000 human beings, mostly Americans, murdered on that fateful day. Like Pearl Harbor, it is a national shrine that should be dedicated to honor the memory of the victims - an eternal reminder of the atrocity perpetrated by Islamic fascism on U.S. soil.
The Sept. 11 attacks were committed by Muslim extremists in the name of holy war against the West. They used the Koran and Islamic principles to justify their actions. Their goal was to bring jihad to America, unleashing a clash of civilizations. Across the world, Islamists seek to impose a world Muslim empire based on Shariah law. Ground zero is where the war came home to America.
Hence, the building of this mosque is a sacrilegious act - a deliberate slap in the face to the victims, their families and all Americans. It also is why the sponsors of this project refuse to back down. They realize what is at stake: The mosque will cast a giant, dark shadow over ground zero, serving as a testament to the Islamist conquest of America. If Islamism can impose its will near the site of Sept. 11, then it can impose its will anywhere.
The imam spearheading the initiative, Feisal Abdul Rauf, is an unrepentant militant Muslim, an Islamist fellow traveler. He has said publicly that "United States policies were an accessory" to the Sept. 11 attacks. In other words, in his view, we brought the atrocities upon ourselves. He is a defender of Hamas, justifying the mass murder of innocent Jews (and Palestinians). He has called for the introduction of Shariah law courts in America. In short, he openly seeks the Islamization of America.
Mr. Rauf is a typical Islamist hypocrite: He uses the U.S. Constitution to demand the exercise of religious freedom while advocating for Shariah law, which fuses church and state and seeks to subjugate non-Muslims. Islamists are using our freedoms in an effort to destroy our freedoms.
Moreover, much of the $100 million in funding for the mosque is coming from Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has been aggressively supporting the building of madrassas and mosques around the world. The Saudi regime promotes Wahhabism, a particularly virulent strain of Islam. For example, Christian churches and synagogues are banned in Saudi Arabia; religious persecution is rampant. Yet no one - not New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo or any other sanctimonious liberal supporter of the ground-zero mosque - has bothered to investigate the sources of Mr. Rauf's funding. Are Wahhabists behind the mosque? If so, it probably will become a forum for hatred and extremism - just like a Saudi-funded mosque in Northern Virginia where the al-Qaeda-linked cleric Anwar al-Awlaki preached the virtues of jihadism.
Instead of addressing these issues, liberals such as Mr. Bloomberg are wrapping themselves in the flag of religious freedom. "The World Trade Center site will forever hold a special place in our city, in our hearts," he said. "But we would be untrue to the best part of ourselves, and who we are as New Yorkers and Americans, if we said no to a mosque in Lower Manhattan."
Mr. Rauf also claims that his goal is an eminently tolerant one: to foster "cross-cultural" understanding and "interfaith" dialogue. Besides, as ground-zero mosque supporters argue, the cultural center will be built not on the site of the World Trade Center, but two blocks away.
Yet its proximity is precisely the problem. The ground-zero mosque infuriates so many people because the building in which it will be housed was physically damaged by debris from the crumbling towers during the Sept. 11 assault. The location was part of the wreckage; it falls within the battle zone, the immediate circumference where the attacks occurred. This is why this issue exacerbates so many emotional wounds.
Religious freedom is a red herring. Muslims are free to build mosques anywhere else in New York City - or America, for that matter. If Mr. Rauf were truly serious about fostering peaceful religious coexistence, he could - and would - pick any other more ideal location in a residential community. The backlash has been furious and passionate; the anger and rage among the families of the victims have been palpable. Their feelings have been discarded. They have been ignored - even lectured to. Mr. Rauf could end all of this through a gesture of respect and goodwill. Yet he will not - and that speaks volumes. His ideological agenda trumps compassion and common sense.
The battle over the ground-zero mosque is more than another battle in the heated culture wars. It is a watershed moment: the point at which liberal multiculturalism capitulated to the relentless march of political Islam. Muslim radicals around the world rightly will view it as a triumph over the feckless American infidel: Even the site of their deadliest attack against America is not free from Islam's looming presence. This event signifies the loss - the defeat - of American will and purpose in the struggle against jihad.
It is not coincidental that the mosque's name, Cordoba House, takes after the city in southern Spain that marked one of radical Islam's greatest conquests in Europe during the Middle Ages. Cordoba was a major center in the global caliphate being erected by the rampaging Islamists of the time - the very caliphate that Osama bin Laden and his allies seek to restore. A giant mosque was built upon the ruins of a Catholic church. For Islamists, erecting mosques on defeated territories is a sign of subjugation - the submission of infidels to Allah's rule.
The sad irony is that most of the victims of Islamic fascism have been Muslims - fellow co-religionists - slaughtered by medieval barbarians. The ground-zero mosque disgraces them as much as everyone else. Mr. Bloomberg could have done the right thing and opposed the building of the mosque. Yet his actions show that liberalism is defenseless in the face of Islamic supremacism - as it is all across Europe.
The United States of Arabia has arrived.
Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute, a Washington think tank. He is the host of "The Kuhner Show" on WTNT 570-AM (www.talk570.com) from 5 to 7 p.m.
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