Why I Oppose the Downtown Mosque

How I questioned an imam's motives and broke Tom Robbins's heart

Finally, a positive result of Imam Rauf's "mission" (as he often calls it) is the decision of American Muslim leaders to create a National Muslim Leadership Alliance (Washington Post/Jewish World Review, September 8). An urgent reason, says one of them, Naeem Baig, director of the Islamic Circle of North America, is: "There's a real serious threat of violence against individuals." It is already happening.

As I wrote in another syndicated piece about this alliance, further reason for its formation is explained by another member, Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council: "The story of what mainstream American Muslims stand for has not been told effectively." A clarifying footnote by Washington Post reporter Tara Bahrampour tells why: "The diversity of sects, native languages and ethnicities has made it harder for a unified voice to emerge."

Far too many Americans are convinced that all Muslims are the same, and are jihadists underneath.

Jeremy Traum

I have an unsolicited suggestion for Imam Rauf about his own need for remedial education. On ABC-TV's This Week (September 12), he told Christiane Amanpour that he would never have gone forward [with the inflammatory] mosque if he had any notion it would trigger such a firestorm: "I would never have done it. I'm a man of peace."

This proudly self-described moderate Muslim might think again about another unyielding conviction he has steadily held. Though often asked, he repeatedly refuses to characterize Hamas as a terrorist organization. On September 1, soon after returning from his State Department–financed Mideast tour telling, among other things, of his interfaith efforts at home, the American and world press reported that, as the Daily News described, "Hamas gunmen slaughtered four Israeli settlers—including a pregnant woman—in an ambush yesterday in the West Bank" near Hebron.

Could that have been a coincidence just before face-to-face Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in Washington? The Hamas assassinations orphaned seven children in the worst terror attack in the West Bank in four years. A Hamas spokesman praised the killings as the "heroic operations in Hebron."

There's not been a word about these murders from this "man of peace," Imam Rauf.

With regard to the hurt that I—not a man of peace—have caused Tom Robbins, I do hope, Tom, your broken heart will mend. You're far too important to Voice readers to be distracted to tears by what has turned out to be one of your extremely rare misapprehensions of what was before you.

You might get a lift from Abbey Lincoln's CD, It's Me (Verver), I recently received. Abbey looking straight at you on the cover will cheer you, and her singing—as it always does for me—will clear your head, my old comrade.

« Previous Page