Just when you thought the debate over the Islamic community center planned for Lower Manhattan couldn't get any more shrill, along comes Hamas to kick it up a notch. Mahmoud al-Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas, the Palestinian organization which controls Gaza and is classified as a terrorist group by most Western governments, tells WABC host Aaron Klein, "We have to build everywhere — in every area we have muslims, we have to pray, and this mosque is the only site of prayer especially for the people when they are looking to be in the group — not individual."
Most of the politicians who've been milking the mosque mania have declined to dignify this with a response, but of course conservative blogger Pamela Geller was able to tidily wrap Hamas and Obama in the same burka. (In case you tuned the mosque hysteria out over the weekend, Obama gave a speech supporting the right of Muslims to practice their religion wherever they want.) Today Geller froths, "Once again Obama is aligned with the genocidal, the jihadist... our enemy... Once again, Obama puts himself directly at odds with the majority of the American people, as is his way and the hallmark of his presidency." Terrorist fist-bumps all around!
But not all reactions to Obama's mosque stance fell along party lines. George. W. Bush’s speech writer Mike Gerson calls it "an enormously complex and emotional issue—but ultimately the right thing to do. A president is president for every citizen, including every Muslim citizen. Obama is correct that the way to marginalize radicalism is to respect the best traditions of Islam and protect the religious liberty of Muslim Americans. It is radicals who imagine an American war on Islam. But our conflict is with the radicals alone."
On the other hand, Tom Brown, a retired firefighter who was a first responder on 9/11 and is suing to stop the Islamic center, says that the Imam behind the project, Abdul Rauf, is in bed with Hamas. "This is what we've been saying... Imam Rauf is a radical Muslim who will not call Hamas a terror group," Brown tells the Post. "How much evidence do we need that this guy is a radical Muslim? If Rauf really were a bridge builder and an interfaith guy and all the things he professes to be, he wouldn't be doing this to people."
For more mosque talk, Democratic Congressman Jerry Nadler and Republican Congressman Peter King, both of New York, debated the issue on CNN. While acknowledging that the developer had the legal right to building the Islamic center on Park Place, King said, "If the imam and the Muslim leadership in that community is so intent on building bridges, then they should voluntarily move the mosque away from Ground Zero and move it whether it's uptown or somewhere else, but move it away from that area, the same as the pope directed the Carmelite nuns to move a convent away from Auschwitz. This is such a raw wound and they are just pouring salt into it. And that's my point." Nadler countered, "Frankly, Ground Zero is hallowed ground. Two blocks away, first of all, is not so hallowed ground." And that's EXACTLY what HITLER WOULD HAVE SAID! Here's Newt Gingrich with the inevitable Nazi analogy.