FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PHOENIX (August 15, 2010) – Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, a devout Muslim and the president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy issued the following statement regarding remarks from President Obama on the proposed mosque and Islamic Center at Ground Zero:
“As an American Muslim whose family fled persecution in Syria and as someone who has stood in the face of some resistance to the building of many of our houses of worship in the U.S., I fully understand the value of standing for religious freedom in America. But President Obama’s statement about the Ground Zero mosque at last night’s White House Iftar dinner is the latest example of political correctness gone awry.
The President commented that:
“Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America.”
Yes, Mr. President, this is America and you have fundamentally misunderstood the stakes in this discussion and the sentiments of the American people. Instead, you have focused on the very issue that the Islamist propagandists wish you to– the narrative that Americans somehow need lectures about Islam, Muslims, and religious freedom.
Your message to Americans will be spun on Al Jazeera and by Islamists across the world that President Obama reassured a friendly global Muslim audience at the White House Ramadan dinner that he was going to remind Americans about the principles of religious freedom for Muslims since they seem to be trampling over those principles in the local dispute at Ground Zero in New York.
Mr. President this is not about religious freedom. It is about the importance of the World Trade Center site to the psyche of the American People. It is about a blatant attack on our sovereignty by people whose ideology ultimately demands the elimination of our way of life. While Imam Faisal Rauf may not share their violent tendencies he does seem to share a belief that Islamic structures are a political statement and even Ground Zero should be looked upon through the lens of political Islam and not a solely American one.
As a Muslim desperate to reform his faith, your remarks take us backwards from the day that my faith will come into modernity. I do not stand to eliminate Imam Rauf’s religious freedom; I stand to make sure that my children’s religious freedom will be determined by the liberty guaranteed in the American Constitution and not by clerics or leaders who are apologists for shar’iah law and will tell me what religious freedom is.
‘Park 51’, ‘The Cordoba House’ or whatever they are calling it today should not be built, not because it is not their right to do it – but because it is not right to do it.” Mr. President, your involvement in this issue is divisive not uniting. Your follow-up stating that ‘you will not speak to the wisdom of the construction of that mosque and center’ indicates a passive-aggressive meddling on your part that only marginalizes those Muslim and non-Muslim voices against it while pretending to understand both sides of the debate.
About the American Islamic Foundation for Democracy
The American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. AIFD’s mission advocates for the preservation of the founding principles of the United States Constitution, liberty and freedom, through the separation of mosque and state. For more information on AIFD, please visit our website at http://www.aifdemocracy.org/.