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Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Raheel Raza, a leading Muslim reformer, award winning writer, professional speaker, diversity consultant, documentary film maker and interfaith advocate. A founding member of the Muslim Canadian Congress, she is the author of Their Jihad . . . Not My Jihad. Visit her site at RaheelRaza.com.
FP: Raheel Raza, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
I would like to talk to you today about the courageous battle you have been fighting, as a Muslim, on the frontlines of our battle against radical Islam. Your pronouncements against the Ground Zero Mosque and your collision with Tariq Ramadan are the recent examples of your noble stand for justice and freedom.
Let’s start with your battle against the Ground Zero mosque and also the threat you received from Ground Zero mosque developer Sharif El Gamal after your meeting with the organizers of the mosque in New York.
Raza: Thanks Jamie.
It’s been almost a month since my article was published in the Ottawa Citizen regarding the proposed mosque at Ground Zero, which was followed by my trip to New York to attend a meeting of the organizers of the mosque and then the follow up — which has been good, bad and ugly.
I feel no need to give a defense of my actions as everyone has the right to pursue the truth. It’s been a turbulent two months with many ups and downs. However, I have written a report about my visit to New York, since I met the organizers, asked questions and was able to make an informed opinion. Events that followed have only confirmed my stance. Hence, I owe it to myself and to those following these events to give an accurate account of my visit. Let me share it with you Jamie and with Frontpage’s readers:
At 5:57 p.m. on Monday August 16, 2010, my cell phone rang. The man asked me: “Is this Raheel Raza?” I automatically said yes. He said “I am Sharif El Gamal – do you remember you dared jump into a meeting called by Daisy Khan for 9/11 victims in New York?” I was a bit shocked at the tone but I retorted “I was invited to that meeting.” He said curtly, “No, you were not.” I tried to explain that I went as a guest of a 9/11 widow. “You were not invited,” he said again, and then added: “I am an American and a Muslim and may Allah protect you.” These words sent chills down my back. It took only one minute for the veneer of ‘tolerance’ to be peeled away, and the reality of the agenda became crystal clear.
I had decided to go to New York on Tuesday, August 10, to attend a meeting hosted by the ASMA Society as a guest of Maureen Basnicki, who is the widow of a 9/11 victim. I wanted to see and hear firsthand what the Ground Zero mosque was all about, to ask some important questions and to deliver a message that this is not a good idea.
When I arrived at the meeting, there were about 30 people in the room, most of them 9/11 survivors and their families. Some were carrying placards saying LOCATION which they respectfully kept under their chairs. The meeting was chaired by Gerry Bogacz, who is part of the 9/11 Community for Common Ground. There were no formal introductions of people around the table.
However, as soon as the organizers started speaking, I knew that this was not about sincere intentions but a con-job, a cover-up for a subversive agenda and all about the money. Ms. Daisy Khan spent 20 minutes telling us about her life and work. Eventually, she came to the mosque project and said that this monument (Ground Zero Mosque/Cordoba Institute/ Park 51) is to help shape Islam in America. She also said that the idea has garnered support not only in the U.S. but “would be replicated all over the world.”
She was joined by Mr. Sharif El Gamal, CEO of Soho Properties. The slick Mr. Gamal took another 15 minutes to tell his life story, explaining that he was a born American of mixed heritage and that he had feelings for the people in the room. He mentioned that he had been looking for a property in Manhattan since 2002 and that he had bought this building in 2005. Finally, they opened the meeting up for questions. (Interesting note in retrospect that neither Mr. Gamal nor Ms. Khan addressed me the entire evening, although they know who I am).
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