Wednesday, August 25, 2010
On whose side is Obama?
Op-ed: President Obama owes every American apology over handling of mosque affair
President Obama's defense of the right of Muslims to build a mosque and Islamic center in New York City turned the issue into one of religious freedom. That was wrong.
Obama's first priority - like that of every national leader - is to speak for his country and on its behalf. Obama's refusal to do so, his insinuation that questions raised about a proposed Islamic mega-center near the site of the 9/11 attacks are un-American, unconstitutional, and prejudiced have shamed every American, and the good name of America.
Obama could have defended America; instead, he apologized for it. He could have said that 4,400 Americans have died in Iraq, 1,200 have died in Afghanistan, and hundreds of thousands of Americans have been wounded - to help those Muslim countries attain freedom. And of course, hundreds of billions of dollars were spent towards that effort. But he didn't.
Obama might have said that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the US; hundreds of thousands of Muslims have found a home in America since and despite 9/11. He could have said: America has and continues to stand for freedom and democracy. He did not.
He is probably the first American president to malign his own country.
Obama could have explained that American law and values do not support discrimination, certainly not against Muslims; our history proves that. There are about 2,000 mosques in the United States, serving about 8 million Muslims; NYC alone has a dozen mosques. And Muslims are doing well in America: 67% have higher degrees; their average income is over $42,000; 26% earn over $100,000; 67% buy a new car every 3 years.
President Obama could have also noted that most American Muslims don't attend prayer services; mosques are often political and social centers, some of which are problematic.
'Grave threat to non-Muslims’
According to FBI estimates, 10 % of the mosques in the United States are associated with radical Jihadist ideology. Others estimate that 80% of mosques are dominated by the extremist Wahhabi ideology promoted by Saudi Arabia. And they are allowed to practice, under American principles of freedom of religion.
Unlike houses of worship in America which are built and supported by the local population, most mosques receive funding from foreign countries, especially Saudi Arabia.
President Obama might have noted that the Muslim Brotherhood, a Nazi organization that is banned in Egypt, is associated with some American mosques.
A study by Freedom House concluded that American mosques offer a wide selection of Saudi publications that promote hateful ideology, with all materials found to have some connection to Saudi Arabia.
According to the study, these publications advanced a "dualistic worldview in which there exist two antagonistic realms or abodes that can never be reconciled. The study also concluded that these publications "pose a grave threat to non-Muslims and to the Muslim community itself."
President Obama could have explained that this is obviously not an issue of religious freedom. He could have championed America, its reputation, institutions and values. Instead, he reinforced the view that America is bigoted.
For that, President Obama owes every American an apology.
The author is a writer and journalist