Inside the Push for Ground Zero-Area Mosque

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This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," May 20, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: There has been great outrage following plans for a mosque set to be built just blocks from the site of 9/11's Ground Zero. And now the imam spearheading the building of this 13-story structure is defending his plans. Let's take a look:


IMAM FEISAL ABDUL RAUF, BEHIND GROUND ZERO MOSQUE: We have the right to build this building as a right. We don't need any zoning variations. We can just go ahead and build it without permissions or expressions of support from anybody.


HANNITY: But he may be much more radical than most Americans know.

Now in a book published back in 2004, "What Is Right With Islam," Feisal Abdul Rauf, he wrote of his fondness for Sharia Law and his belief that the U.S. can accommodate it. He argued, quote, that "the American political structure is Sharia compliant," continuing, quote, "For America to score even higher on the 'Islamic' or 'Sharia' compliance 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."

I suppose that would mean allowing Muslims to have their own Sharia courts, Jewish people to have their own courts, Christians their own courts and so on and so on.

How very American? Constitutional?

Joining me now with reaction is the director of, Robert Spencer, and the cofounder for 9/11 Families for a Safe and Strong America, Deborah Burlingame. Our friend is back with us.

Good to see you. Thanks for being here.


HANNITY: Good to see you. Thanks for being here.

All right. Sharia Law compliant?

ROBERT SPENCER, DIRECTOR, JIHADWATCH.ORG: What he's saying is that America has put no roadblocks in the place of the implementation of Sharia. And this is why we're having a rally on June 6 against this mosque. Pamela Geller and I and Stop the Islamization of America, we're having a rally to protest against this mosque. Because Sharia is at variance with the American law in numerous ways and with American freedoms — the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, the equality of rights of women with men, the equality of rights of all people before the law.

Sharia denies all that. Feisal Abdul Rauf is for all that.

HANNITY: What he's saying here is that — and look, this is the guy — this is right next to nine — you know, Ground Zero.


HANNITY: All right. So they're going to build a 13-story mosque. But what he's saying here is religious communities in America, forget the U.S. Constitution, you know, equal justice under the law and constitutional principles. He's saying that they ought to be allowed to judge themselves and use Sharia Law here in America. Is that your take, Deborah?

BURLINGAME: It is. It's my take, it's his take.

HANNITY: That's a great point.

BURLINGAME: And in fact he's really trying to get Sharia, sneak it in, hoping that Americans aren't familiar with their own Constitution. Americans do understand the concept of the separation of church and state. And Muslims here in this country understand — who have embraced the American way of life, have embraced the concept of separation of mosque and state.

But look what he's doing when he goes abroad. This book...

HANNITY: You — I wanted to point this out. You brought this — this is in this book. This is the imam that is — is spearheading the effort to build the mosque. These are his words. He's the one that has argued that Sharia Law could be used in the U.S., because they can have their own courts and religious leaders, correct?

BURLINGAME: Yes. But — but when he published this in 2007 in the Muslim world, he didn't call it "What's Right With Islam" and a later title, "What's Right with America." He called it "A Call to Prayer From the World Trade Center Rubble: Islamic Da'wah From the Heart of America..."

HANNITY: Meaning?

BURLINGAME: "... Post-9/11." Robert, tell him what da'wah means.

SPENCER: Da'wah is Islamic proselytizing. And in the Islamic law, da'wah precedes jihad. You call the nonbelievers to Islam. And if they refuse to accept it, then you initiate the jihad against them. But the whole goal of both da'wah and jihad is to impose Islamic law or Sharia upon the nonbelievers as a political system, not as a religious one.

HANNITY: What about the controversy — controversy involving his father?

SPENCER: The controversy involving his father involves the Muslim Brotherhood and the fact that this guy has ties to this group that is, in its own words, "dedicated to eliminating and destroying western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house."

HANNITY: So you both believe — and as I read this, this is becoming more and more alarming to me. And you have been very nice to give me a copy of the book and tell me about the translation when it was first published, you know, in other countries — that he would want to impose or at least allow for Muslims to have the ability to transcend the American court system.

SPENCER: Oh, yes.

HANNITY: Explain Sharia Law. Why don't we go into in just a little detail in the short time we have?

SPENCER: Well, Sharia Law denies equality of rights...

HANNITY: To women.

SPENCER: ... to non-Muslims, to women.

HANNITY: Right, right.

SPENCER: And it does not allow for them to operate in an equal system.

See, the thing about Sharia is unlike — you mentioned Jewish courts in the beginning, Sean. The thing, the difference is, is that no other religious system makes rules for people who are outside the religion. But Islamic law does. And it mandates, institutionalizes the subjugation of non-Muslims. And so that's what Feisal Abdul Rauf is actually calling for.

BURLINGAME: And let me also add, this man has close ties to the Malaysian government. The Cordova Initiative, his — his operation that's going to build this mosque, is funded by the Malaysian government. He has offices in Malaysia. That's where he published this book.

And in Malaysia, in the Sharia courts, Sharia courts are mandated. No Muslim can go into a civil court. They have to have their things adjudicated in these courts. There are penalties for converting to Christianity there.

HANNITY: You lost your brother. Your brother was the pilot of the American Airlines flight that hit the — the Pentagon.


HANNITY: All right. Mayor Bloomberg just raced out there, at least through a spokesman and others. And all of this is fine, these people that are opposing this, this is outrageous.

BURLINGAME: I don't think that's what he said, Sean. To give him credit, his — his remark was very neutral. What he said was...

HANNITY: They have a right to...

BURLINGAME: They — they have lawfully purchased this property. And they have a right to build. In other words, he wasn't endorsing the project. Imam Rauf and his wife are saying that. But he has uttered no such thing.

HANNITY: Listen, if all of this is true and with the relationship of his father, should he even be in the U.S.? I'll ask both of you quick.

SPENCER: Feisal Abdul Rauf needs to be questioned with his followers as to whether his loyalty is really with the U.S. Constitution or not.

HANNITY: Do you think — what do you suspect?

SPENCER: Oh, I don't think he is at all. I think he wants to impose Islamic law here. He's very explicit about that, in fact.

BURLINGAME: I believe he does embrace the Constitution, and he knows if he gets enough Muslims voting in the voting booth he can change the Constitution to accept Sharia and create Sharia courts right here. That's what da'wah will do.

HANNITY: We'll continue to follow the story. Guys, thanks very much. We appreciate it.

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