The Ground Zero Mosque and Media Sleight of Hand

The irony could not have been thicker: the New York Post reported Sunday that one year after the notorious Park51 “community center” opened “with great fanfare,” it was “now an empty space with no community programs.” Park51, you may recall, is the official name of what is more famously known as the Ground Zero mosque. The entire controversy over the Ground Zero mosque is an illuminating example of how the media manipulates public perceptions.

Now the central deception – that the Ground Zero mosque was never really a mosque at all — has been fully revealed. The Post continued: “What’s more, while the developers behind Park51 insisted for two years that the project was more than a mosque, it now appears to be just that. Dozens of worshipers gather at the site on Park Place Friday for prayer services — but that’s the only activity in the building.”

This is the ignominious denouement of the institution that its developer, Sharif El-Gamal, once boasted would soon be “the most famous community center in the whole world.” El-Gamal wasn’t the only one boasting: when Park51 officially opened last year, reporters from all over the world contacted Pamela Geller and me, as the leaders of the national opposition to the Ground Zero mosque, asking us for comment on the “fact” that we had “lost,” that the “community center” was opening despite our opposition.

But this was a case of a defeated side declaring victory and getting out, a la Vietnam. As both Geller and I made repeatedly clear at the height of the Ground Zero mosque controversy, we were well aware that Muslims were gathering for prayers in the Burlington Coat Factory building that had been extensively damaged in the September 11, 2001 attacks, and had no objection to that.

What we were objecting to was the planned sixteen-story mega-mosque that the less than solvent El-Gamal and his erstwhile partners, the unsavory and dishonest Islamic supremacists Faisal Abdul Rauf and Daisy Khan, planned to build on that site after they tore down the Burlington Coat Factory building, as that would have been a triumphal mosque built on the site of a jihad victory, like the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount. Once Americans voiced their opposition in huge numbers to that planned victory mosque, and we exposed the developers’ Islamic supremacist ties and many shady financial dealings, the project was put on indefinite hold.

As Pamela Geller explained:

Rauf has close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. … Rauf’s book What’s Right with Islam says on the copyright page that “this edition was made possible through a joint effort of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) and the office of Interfaith and Community Alliance of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Funding for this project was provided by IIIT.” Both IIIT and ISNA are Muslim Brotherhood fronts, and ISNA was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation Hamas terror funding case.

Rauf refused to condemn Hamas until the public outcry became too great for him to ignore. He was a prominent member of the Perdana organization, which bankrolled the jihad flotilla sent against Israel last year, on which the “peaceful” passengers were chanting a genocidal and antisemitic Islamic jihad chant.

Also, Rauf has said that “the U.S. and the West must acknowledge the harm they have done to Muslims before terrorism can end.” He has claimed that “Western active involvement in shaping the internal affairs of Islamic societies have contributed to the creation of terrorism done in the name of Islam.” In other words, defending ourselves against jihad terrorism just creates jihad terrorism, so we should stop defending ourselves.

Rauf has carried his blame game even farther, claiming: “We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaida has on its hands of innocent non Muslims.” He even said on 60 Minutes shortly after 9/11 that Osama bin Laden was “made in the USA.”

The Arabic translation of Rauf’s book What’s Right with Islam is disturbingly titled A Call to Prayer from the World Trade Center Rubble: Islamic Dawa in the Heart of Post-9/11 America. This indicates that he planned for years to spread Islam and Sharia from the site of the 9/11 attacks.

Despite all this, the mainstream media lionized Rauf and El-Gamal, hailing them as heroes of multiculturalism against “intolerance.” Nonetheless, they failed to build their victory mosque. But once defeated, El-Gamal and his Leftist sycophants in the mainstream media refused to admit defeat; instead, they announced — with great fanfare indeed — the opening of the Park51 Cultural Center, in the same severely damaged Burlington Coat Factory building. They held a few sad and tatty “events” there, again to great fanfare, and then, when the media frenzy died down, went back to doing the only thing they had been doing in that building all along: holding Islamic prayer.

So it is a mosque, just as we always said it would be in the teeth of their disingenuous denials (which were uncritically and insistently repeated in the mainstream media), but it is not the 16-story mega-mosque of triumph they had wanted to build, and which had been the focus of our objections. So the real victory was ours. And if El-Gamal or anyone else ever tries again to build the triumphal mosque, we’ll be back.

The article in the New York Post, even though it again exposes El-Gamal’s dishonesty, glosses over that central fact. Many people in the comments section there declared that this mosque “should never have been built.” But that’s the thing: it wasn’t built. This non-center is still in the damaged Burlington Coat Factory building. The Post was severely remiss not to point that out. Even though its article cut through a good bit of the deception that surrounded this project from the beginning, it left a central media myth untouched. The entire episode showed how far the mainstream media’s version of events can be from reality – an increasingly important lesson nowadays.

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