Closer Look at Rhetoric of Man Behind Mosque
This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," August 20, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And welcome back to this special edition of "Hannity."
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is the man behind the proposal to build the mosque just steps away from Ground Zero. Now he claims he is a moderate, but his writings and statements reveal a much different picture.
Let's take a look.
HANNITY (voice-over): Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is the chairman and founder of the Cordoba Initiative which is an organization that prides itself in trying to improve Muslim relations with the West.
And now Imam Rauf is taking his mission to the doorstep of where America's heart was broken one early Tuesday morning, nine years ago -- Ground Zero.
JEHAN HARNEY, JOURNALIST AND FILMMAKER: I had some personal counsel from him. He is one of the most moderate Muslim imams out there. He is progressive, he is moderate, he's very understanding. He's all about adapting Islam, our rules, our Sharia to our changing times and places to our life here in America.
IMAM FEISAL ABDUL RAUF, CORDOBA INITIATIVE FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN: We feel 9/11 very, very much. We belong in this area.
HANNITY: But while some see him as a moderate Rauf's writings and interviews show he's anything but.
ROBERT SPENCER, JIHADWATCH.ORG: They comfortably say in the mainstream media that he's moderate because they really aren't looking at his record. And because they wish he were. And because he tells them he is.
M. ZUHDI JASSER, AMERICAN ISLAMIC FORUM FOR DEMOCRACY: I'm concerned about what his motives are. And actually, you look -- many of us Muslims around the country are saying, why are you doing this to us?
We have thousands of mosques that are flourishing, some are contentious and we're fighting to defend their right to build. But this is one we don't want to defend.
HANNITY: Just days after 9/11 Imam Rauf was on "60 Minutes" and said, quote, "I wouldn't say that the United States deserve what happened but United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened."
When pressed to clarify, Rauf said, quote, "We have been accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact in the most direct sense Usama bin Laden is made in the USA."
SPENCER: What he wants to see happen is that the U.S. swallow the idea that if we change American policies that the jihad against the United States will stop.
HANNITY: But National Review Online obtained audio of an interview that Imam Rauf gave during the 2008 presidential campaign. He was asked if terrorist attacks on the West are a byproduct of the West's behavior.
RAUF, 2008 MALAYSIA MATTERS PODCAST: Predominantly, because the West is a global superpower. You see in any relationship, even between genders, between men and women, for example, it's the most powerful part in the relationship which sets the tone of the relationship.
HANNITY: Not exactly what one would consider a moderate stance. He went on to explain what he thinks motivates a person to carry out a terrorist attack.
RAUF: As a general rule, when people feel that they've been humiliated, people feel they've been frustrated, people feel they've been ignored, when people feel that justice is not meted then they -- then they reach a point where they feel the need to conflagrate.
HANNITY: This distorted thought process carries over into Rauf's opinion on international affairs. In June 2009 Imam Rauf wrote a column for the Huffington Post called "What President Obama Should Say about Iran's Election".
He writes that President Obama, quote, "should say his administration respects many of the guiding principles of the 1979 Revolution to establish a government that expresses the will of the people".
This again is not a moderate stance. Imam Rauf also refuses to admit that Hamas is a terrorist organization.
RAUF, "AARON KLEIN INVESTIGATIVE RADIO," JUNE 18: I'm not a politician. I tried to avoid the issues of -- the issue of terrorism is a very complex question. And I'm a bridge-builder.
AARON KLEIN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: But I'm asking you though --
RAUF: My work --
KLEIN: Is Hamas a terrorist organization?
RAUF: Aaron, Aaron, my work, my work -- I defined my work as a bridge-builder. I do not want to be placed neither will I accept to be placed in a position of being put in a position where I am the target of one side or another.
HANNITY: Why can't he label Hamas what it is?
HARNEY: He's a religious leader. When do we see really religious people engaging in politics? Politics is for politicians. And he already condemned terrorism.
JASSER: Imam Rauf for all of his platitudes has never taken on Islamist groups by name like Hamas or Hezbollah. He's never taken on the concept of the Islamic state to say that it's dead.
HANNITY: And as alarming as Imam Rauf's position on terrorism is, his opinion on Sharia law is equally frightening.
SPENCER: Sharia law is considered by mainstream Islam to be the law of god. And it's an extraordinary complex and comprehensive body of laws that covers, without exaggeration, every aspect of human behavior.
An adherent of Sharia will be somebody who is against the freedom of speech as Rauf is. And in favor of various forms of discrimination against women and non-Muslims.
HANNITY: In 2004 Rauf published "What's Right with Islam". Now he wrote of his fondness for Sharia and his belief that the U.S. can accommodate it.
He wrote, quote, "The American political structure is Sharia compliant. For America to score even higher on the Islamic or Sharia compliant scale, America would need to do two things: invite the voices of all religions to join the dialogue in shaping the nation's practical life and allow religious communities more leeway to judge among themselves according to their own laws."
HARNEY: Imam Abdul Rauf is not trying to impose a Sharia or Islamic law in America. He says it's already there. And in fact he said America is the most Sharia compliant country in the world because the U.S. offers all people, including Muslims, the freedom to practice their religion.
SPENCER: He's saying that the American laws can be manipulated in order to bring elements of Sharia here, as is being done now in a concerted effort to bring various aspects of Sharia to the U.S.
JASSER: He basically wants us to believe that Sharia is like the Constitution. And I don't know which planet he's living on. Sharia that's in government abuses people. It's used as a tool for medieval torture and is no way even close to being -- representing the freedoms that we have in this country.
HANNITY: But this is not the only time Imam Rauf writes about Sharia. In April of 2009 Rauf wrote a column again for the "Huffington Post," quote, "If you strive for justice and fairness in the Penal Code, then you are in keeping with the moral imperative of the Sharia. Rather than fear Sharia law we should understand what it actually is."
SPENCER: Rauf is not a moderate because he's an open advocate of Sharia. And Sharia is not moderate. He's not moderate because he refuses to denounce Hamas, the jihad terrorist organization which is not moderate.
He's not moderate because he's not been honest about whether the mosque would receive foreign funding or not, whether he believes in religious dialogue or not and about other issues. And so the imam cannot said to be moderate in any genuine sense.
HANNITY: So now you know the man behind the mosque.
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