Yasser Arafat, the Father of Modern Terrorism, whose 1994 receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize tarnished that award for all time, pioneered the art of condemning violence in English while encouraging it in Arabic. He largely got away with it, because of a shortage of Arabic-language speakers in America and Europe.
Enter MEMRI, the indispensable Middle East Media Research Institute, founded in 1998. MEMRI has played a role in virtually every news article you’ve ever seen about radical Muslims preaching death and destruction in Arabic, not to mention Farsi, Urdu, Pashtu, Dari, Hindi, and Turkish.
(Hm… the premise of this post was that it’s refreshing to see MEMRI with a translation of a Muslim with a moderate message. So I get a couple of nice setup paragraphs written… and I realize the article in question was actually written in English. Whatever. Onward!)
Abdulateef Al-Mulhim is a former Commodore in the Saudi Arabian Navy, who spent several years in the U.S. as a liaison officer at the Pensacola Naval Air Station (where my favorite sailor did his A School training last year), after spending several years in the late 1970s studying at the State University of New York’s Maritime College. While in New York he visited the “breathtaking” World Trade Center more times than he could count.
During his years in the U.S. … well, let him tell it:
I drove on every highway and used every airport you can think of. During all that time I never had any problem praying and practicing Islam. As a matter of fact, the American people are the most admired for their respect of the Islamic religion. We prayed everywhere – in the classroom, the office, airports and in any highway exit. So Islam can be practiced anywhere without any fanfare or prestigious mosque. The U.S. is the most tolerant country regarding building an Islamic center. But why [did] Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf choose Ground Zero?”…
When I watched the collapse of the World Trade Center and the rescue efforts done by the people of New York, I knew for sure that someone I know was a victim or a rescue member. Two weeks later I received an e-mail from the Maritime College Alumni Association announcing the death of two of the school graduates. One is from the class of 1963 and the other from the class of 1986 (I will not mention their names). Another very close friend of mine and from the same class (1979) left one of the burning towers 15 minutes before it collapsed. Now I am emotionally more hurt than before. …
This is why I think that we Muslims have to carefully consider the place where the mosque will be built. There are a lot of mosques in Manhattan and having the mosque near Ground Zero may bring more harm to the Muslims than good. There is freedom of religion, but there is a common sense too.
Well said, Commodore Al-Mulhim.