The area around the former World Trade Center is a sacred space. It is a place where thousands of Americans’ lives were taken by the purveyors of a hostile ideology based on Islam. The Cordoba House, a 13-story mosque and Islamic cultural center planned for a site near Ground Zero, is at best inappropriate, and at worst an attempt to hijack the memory of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
The effort to memorialize 9/11 has seen an overweening and unnecessary deference to Muslims. Most memorials will not mention the fact that the Sept. 11 terrorist attackers were motivated by the faith of Muhammad. The Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, Penn., featured a “crescent of embrace” motif that was altered after a public outcry over the use of Muslim symbolism to celebrate the deadly consequence of Muslim fanaticism. The memorial space at Ground Zero will name all the victims of the attack but will not make reference to why they died that day.
The accompanying National 9/11 Memorial and Museum will also soft-pedal the events of Sept. 11. According to Daisy Khan, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA), it will represent the “voices of American Muslims in particular, and it will honor members of other communities who came together in support and collaboration with the Muslim community on September 11 and its aftermath.” But it is bizarre that the voices of American Muslims would dominate such a memorial, especially since the Muslim community was never in the forefront of denouncing the actions of their coreligionists after the Sept. 11 attacks. To hear Ms. Khan speak, one would think that Muslims were more the victims than the perpetrators of the carnage.
Ms. Khan writes off concerns about Cordoba House to “fear of the unknown.” One of the great unknowns is where funding for the $100 million project is coming from. The building was purchased in July 2009 for $4.85 million in cash by Soho Properties, a real-estate investment firm tied to developer Sharif El-Gamal. One of the investors was the Cordoba Initiative, an organization chaired by Ms. Khan’s husband, Faisal Abdul Rauf. The initiative listed less than $20,000 in assets in 2008 and has received less than $100,000 in contributions since it was founded in 2004. The ASMA has assets of less than $1 million. The principals will not explain how their cash-poor organizations can hope to undertake such a major project, but Ms. Khan claims that, “Cordoba House will be a new entity whose funding sources will be independent from the funding sources of ASMA and Cordoba Initiative.” Odds are the money will come from overseas.
Saudi Arabia and other Muslim-majority countries have made funding mosques an important priority for extending Islam’s reach and influence. Yet the representatives of other faiths are not allowed to build places of worship in areas which Muslims consider sacred, which in some cases includes entire countries. Deputy National Security Adviser for Homeland Security John Brennan recently spoke glowingly of witnessing “how our Saudi partners fulfilled their duty as custodians of the two holy mosques at Mecca and Medina.” That might be true, but don’t get caught worshipping a god other than Allah. According to a 2009 Pew Forum study, Saudi Arabia is rivaled only by Iran as the world’s least tolerant country for religious diversity. It’s illegal to merely possess religious symbols from other faiths in the desert kingdom. Converting to another religion is a capital offense.
The United States should ban any overseas funding for construction of religious sites originating in countries that do not allow religious freedom and end the one-way relationship that allows those promoting Islam an unfair advantage over other faiths. Furthermore, Ms. Khan and Mr. Rauf should come clean about the expected sources of funding for the Cordoba House. It would be ironic and tragic (if not surprising) if the same channels that seek to build the Ground Zero mosque also underwrote the attacks that made it necessary to build a memorial.
The “religion of peace” has some very violent adherents, and they are increasingly active on U.S. soil. It’s a sign of cultural weakness that Americans are afraid to say no to a mosque on the most prominent site of jihadist victory in the United States.