Wash. Times' Kuhner baselessly smears NYC imam as an "unrepentant militant Muslim"

››› ››› ERIC SCHROECK

In a Washington Times column, Jeffrey Kuhner baselessly smeared Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who is leading the initiative to build an Islamic community center and mosque near Ground Zero, as an "unrepentant militant Muslim." In fact, Rauf has condemned terrorism and has been widely described as "moderate."

Kuhner: Rauf is an "unrepentant militant Muslim"

In Wash. Times op-ed, Kuhner calls Rauf an "unrepentant militant Muslim." In his August 5 Washington Times column titled, "Welcome to the United States of Arabia," Kuhner wrote: "America is surrendering in the war against radical Islam. This is the real meaning behind the decision to build a 13-story mosque and Muslim cultural center 600 feet from the site of ground zero." He later stated, "The imam spearheading the initiative, Feisal Abdul Rauf, is an unrepentant militant Muslim, an Islamist fellow traveler."

In fact, Rauf has repeatedly condemned terrorism and "Muslim militants"

Rauf: "We condemn terrorists. We recognize it exists in our faith, but we are committed to eradicate it." A May 21 New York Daily News article quoted Rauf stating: "We condemn terrorists. We recognize it exists in our faith, but we are committed to eradicate it." He also stated: "We want to rebuild this community. ... This is about moderate Muslims who intend to be and want to be part of the solution."

Slate: Rauf has "denounced church burnings in Muslim countries ... proposed to reclaim Islam from violent radicals." An August 2 Slate.com article reported that Rauf "has denounced church burnings in Muslim countries, rejected Islamic triumphalism over Christians and Jews, and proposed to reclaim Islam from violent radicals such as Osama Bin Laden."

NYT: Rauf "condemns suicide bombings and all violence carried out in the name of religion." A June 23, 2004, New York Times article reported that Rauf "condemns suicide bombings and all violence carried out in the name of religion." The Times further reported that Rauf "meets regularly with Christian and Jewish leaders, not only to forge a common front but also to explain his belief that Islamic terrorists do not come from another moral universe -- that they arise from oppressive societies that he feels Washington had a hand in creating."

After 9-11, Rauf "categorically condemned suicide bombers." A June 8, 2004, Newsday article (accessed via Nexis) reported: "Rauf has done little else since the terrorist attacks that pulled him from his mahogany pulpit in the shadow of Ground Zero. At the outset, he categorically condemned suicide bombers and, in fact, any violence committed in the name of religion." From the Newsday article:

"One frequently hears the refrain: 'Where are the moderate Muslim leaders? Why aren't they speaking out more loudly about world issues?'" said John Bennett, former president of the Aspen Institute, an international relations think tank, where he first met Rauf, and now a cofounder of the Cordoba Initiative. "And here is a man who has the courage to do so and who is speaking out with great eloquence and feeling."

Rauf has done little else since the terrorist attacks that pulled him from his mahogany pulpit in the shadow of Ground Zero. At the outset, he categorically condemned suicide bombers and, in fact, any violence committed in the name of religion. He also said that American policies "were an accessory to the crime that happened" since they had armed a generation of jihadists to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan.

"Explaining is not justifying," he said. "I want people to understand the things that have fueled terrorism, because if we address them, that's how we eliminate terror."

Rauf: "I can confidently assert that I am closer to my Jewish and Christian brothers here ... than the Muslim militants carrying a narrow view." According to a September 8, 2002, Denver Post article (accessed via Nexis), Rauf told congregants at his Manhattan mosque: "I can confidently assert that I am closer to my Jewish and Christian brothers here a [sic] than the Muslim militants carrying a narrow view."

Daily News: Rauf "has a long history of opposing radical teachings." A May 21 New York Daily News editorial stated that Rauf "has a long history of opposing radical teachings and reaching out across religious lines to Christians and Jews. He leads a mosque in Tribeca, several of whose members were killed in the collapse of the World Trade Center."

Rauf widely described as "moderate"

Time: Rauf a "moderate" who "openly condemn[s] the death cult of al-Qaeda and its adherents." An August 3 Time article reported: "Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his wife Daisy Khan, are actually the kind of Muslim leaders right-wing commentators fantasize about: modernists and moderates who openly condemn the death cult of al-Qaeda and its adherents."

Abraham Foxman: Rauf "a moderate imam" who "certainly has spoken out against some of the extremism in the Islamic world." On the August 5 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, which opposes the planned Islamic center, stated that Rauf "wrote a book about moderation and tolerance" and that "as far as we're concerned, he is what he is: a moderate imam. He certainly has spoken out against some of the extremism in the Islamic world."

Jeffery Goldberg: Rauf is "a Muslim who believes that it is possible to remain true to the values of Islam and, at the same time, to be a loyal citizen of a Western, non-Muslim country." In an August 3 post, The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg wrote: "I know Feisal Abdul Rauf; I've spoken with him at a public discussion at the 96th street mosque in New York about interfaith cooperation. He represents what Bin Laden fears most: a Muslim who believes that it is possible to remain true to the values of Islam and, at the same time, to be a loyal citizen of a Western, non-Muslim country."

Colleagues have reportedly described Rauf "as having built a career preaching tolerance and interfaith understanding." A December 8, 2009, New York Times article stated: "Those who have worked with him say if anyone could pull off what many regard to be a delicate project, it would be Imam Feisal, whom they described as having built a career preaching tolerance and interfaith understanding." The Times quoted Rabbi Arthur Schneier, leader of New York City's Park East Synagogue, as saying, ''He subscribes to my credo: 'Live and let live.' '' The Times also reported that Joan Brown Campbell, former general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ U.S.A., is "a supporter" of Rauf.

Rauf worked with FBI agents to present a "view of Islam that avoids stereotypes." The Daily News reported on March 11, 2003, (accessed via Nexis) that Rauf spoke to FBI agents "as part of an FBI effort to present agents who are the ground troops in the war against terrorism with a view of Islam that avoids stereotypes." From the Daily News article:

In an office in lower Manhattan yesterday blocks from Ground Zero, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf talked about his Muslim beliefs to an unusual audience -- a roomful of FBI agents.

"Islamic extremism for the majority of Muslims is an oxymoron," he explained to the agents. "It is a fundamental contradiction in terms."

Rauf -- imam of the Masjid al-Farah mosque of Tribeca -- was speaking as part of an FBI effort to present agents who are the ground troops in the war against terrorism with a view of Islam that avoids stereotypes.

[...]

Rauf made clear Islam's image has been distorted by radical fundamentalists who insist on strict adherence to their interpretation of the Koran and impose a fascistic order on certain countries.

"It can happen under any religion," he noted.

He insisted Islam has a historic kinship with both Judaism and Christianity, a relationship of which not only Americans but many Muslims are unaware.

Kuhner has long history of baseless smears, inflammatory rhetoric

Kuhner forwarded smear that Obama attended a Muslim madrassa as a child. As Media Matters has noted, as editor of the now-defunct Insightmag.com website, Kuhner forwarded the false claim in 2007 that Barack Obama attended a Muslim madrassa as a child in Indonesia.

Kuhner: Obama secretly wants "the Jews to be wiped off the face of the Earth." Guest-hosting Michael Savage's nationally syndicated radio show on June 14, Kuhner stated of Obama: "I believe deep down, he wants the Jewish state to be extinct. I believe that secretly he wants the Israelis and the Jews to be wiped off the face of the Earth. Because in his warped, leftist, academic mind, the two great evils of the world, the two great Satans of the world, are Israel and America."

Kuhner: Obama is a "cultural Muslim" who is "betraying the Jews." In a July 8 Washington Times op-ed, Kuhner wrote that President Obama is "betraying the Jews" and that Obama "is a cultural Muslim whose sympathies lie with the Islamic world in its life-death struggle against Israel."

Kuhner called for Obama's impeachment. In a July 23 Washington Times column, Kuhner stated: "Obama has betrayed the American people. Impeachment is the only answer. This usurper must fall."

Kuhner: "Obamaism" is "liberal fascism." In an April 23 Washington Times column, Kuhner wrote: "Obamaism is more than an attempt to impose big-government liberalism on an unwilling populace. It is a form of liberal fascism that threatens to permanently sever America from its traditional, constitutionalist roots."

Kuhner: Obama's "bow[s]" "reveal a reflexive anti-Americanism." In an April 16 Washington Times column, Kuhner wrote that "President Obama has disgraced the United States -- again. During this week's nuclear summit in Washington, he bowed when greeting Chinese President Hu Jintao." Kuhner later stated that Obama's "actions reflect a fundamental, reflexive anti-Americanism -- a profound contempt and hatred for his own country."

Kuhner: Jennings "championing pedophila." On the December 10, 2009, edition of The Steve Malzberg Show, Kuhner smeared Education Department official Kevin Jennings, falsely claiming that Jennings was "championing pedophilia."

Kuhner accused Kagan of treason. In a May 14 Washington Times column, Kuhner called then-Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan an "incompetent apparatchik," "corrupt," and "anti-capitalist." In a July 2 Washington Times op-ed, Kuhner falsely claimed that Kagan banned military recruiters on Harvard's campus and claimed that her actions constituted "an act of treason."

Kuhner: Sotomayor believes "that America is a racist, sexist, homophobic and misogynist society." Guest-hosting The Savage Nation on May 28, 2009, Kuhner said that then-Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor believes "that America is a racist, sexist, homophobic and misogynist society."

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Religion
Network/Outlet
The Washington Times
Person
Jeffrey T. Kuhner
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