Commentary Magazine


If Rauf Wants Dialogue, He Should Start Talking

Park 51 imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf is taking his Moderate Islam for Dummies tour on the road. The New York Times reports that Rauf is about to go on a nationwide speaking tour “to promote the planned center and to foster dialogue about Muslim life in America.”

Since dialogue is the goal, might I suggest some discussion points. Perhaps Rauf can explain what he finds “moderate” about “respect[ting] the guiding principles of the 1979 revolution” in Iran and the “just government” that followed from it. That is, after all, his stated position on the matter.  Additionally, he might entertain a little Q&A on the brand of moderation that led him to write in a letter to the New York Times, “In a true peace, Israel will, in our lifetimes, become one more Arab country, with a Jewish minority.” When later asked about that and the Iran question, Rauf’s characteristic penchant for candid dialogue mysteriously escaped him. And if time allows, how nice it would be for Rauf to take another stab at the Hamas terrorism question. The last time around, he refused to call Hamas a terrorist organization.

Somehow, I don’t see those things coming up on the grand talking tour. “Dialogue” in these touchy-feely, interfaith mush-ins tends to focus on incisive issues like this: “The idea that the Jewish mayor of New York would be our most outspoken defender, well, I think that really touched people. It was very positive ‘optics’ for the international Muslim audience, as they say in the State Department,” Rauf told the Times.

Here’s Raymond Ibrahim writing about these positive optics:

A number of Al Azhar ulema expressed their opposition to building a mosque near [where] the events of September 11 [occurred], convinced that it is “a conspiracy to confirm a clear connection between the strikes of September [11] and Islam.” Dr. ‘Abd al-Mu’ti Bayumi, a member of the Islamic Research Academy [of Al Azhar] told Al Masry Al Youm that he rejects the building of any mosque in this area [Ground Zero], because the “devious mentality” desires to connect these events [of 9/11] with Islam, though he maintains that Islam is innocent of this accusation. Instead, it is a “Zionist conspiracy,” which many are making use of to harm the religion.

Nothing like a little interfaith dialogue to shed light on serious matters.