In the ever changing world of popular news stories everyone appears to have forgotten about the Ground Zero Mosque. The story captured America’s attention for about two months, and then the public suddenly and simultaneously forgot about it. The anger subsided even though Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf still plans on building the Park 51/Cordoba House Mosque near the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9-11.
The final chapter of coverage appeared to be that the Right is just going to have to hate it while Muslims and the Left love the Mosque location– and have won the battle. But wait, a surprise verbal grenade just may have ruined the cease fire – and you will be shocked by who threw it.
In an interview published Thursday, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the richest men in the world, told a United Arab Emirates magazine that he believes the Park 51 Mosque should be move further away from Ground Zero. Prince Alwaleed said the mosque would only “agitate the wound” caused by the 9-11 terrorists.
I am against putting the mosque there out of respect for those people who have been wounded over there…The wound is still there. Just because the wound is healing you can’t say, ‘Let’s just go back to where we were pre-9/11. – Prince Alwaleed
That’s right, a Muslim Prince, who is one of the most powerful Islamic voices in the world thinks Imam Rauf should move the mosque away from Ground Zero. Prince Alwaleed seems to almost quote countless people on the Right who have been called bigots by the Left for saying similar words. I’m assuming most on the Left will try to ignore this story, but what was Imam Rauf’s reaction?
While we respect the points of view of other interested observers, we plan to build the community centre in this location because we have been part of Lower Manhattan for decades and we want to better serve the needs of our neighbours of all faith traditions. – Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf
How many times will Rauf double down on this thing? Prince Alwaleed is not merely an “interested observer.” First of all, the Saudi Prince is one of Rauf’s main financial backers. He has funded conferences and a lot of the work Rauf has done. However, Prince Alwaleed has kept any direct funding away from the Ground Zero mosque and now we know why. He thinks it’s a horrible idea.
Prince Alwaleed’s opinion also holds weight because of his position in the Saudi royal family (nephew of King Abdullah) and his vast wealth. Alwaleed was listed in the top 20 richest people in the world this year, and Time Magazine has even called him Arabia’s Warren Buffet. In other words, his opinion is usually held in high regard.
Most supporters of the Mosque are hoping this story goes away, but at least one Park 51 backer has actually tried to link Alwaleed to the Right by highlighting his very minority ownership (reportedly only 5-7%) of NewsCorp which owns FoxNews. Shaik Ubaid, co-chairman of a group that has supported the mosque, the Muslim Peace Coalition has attempted to make that silly argument.
If Prince Alwaleed cares about Muslims in America, then he should take his money out of News Corp. – Ubaid
There is no doubt that Rauf will not move that mosque at any cost. If your billionaire supporter that is part of Muslim royalty can’t convince you, I don’t know what will.
But for those on the Right, the next time they are called a bigot for their sensible views on the Cordoba House, they can point out they are simply agreeing with the Saudi Prince.