State Department to send Ground Zero Mosque Imam on third Middle East tour
posted at 8:22 am on August 11, 2010 by Diane Suffern
Not one to rest on its laurels, the administration extends its incredibly tone-deaf streak by sponsoring an overseas “goodwill” trip featuring Feisal Abdul Rauf, executive director of the Cordoba Initiative and proposed Park51 NYC mosque. The ACLJ is filing a complaint with the State Department in an effort to stop taxpayer funding of the trip, Fox News reports:
The State Department confirmed Tuesday that the administration is sponsoring Feisal Abdul Rauf’s trip to Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, which is described as part of a program to send Muslims abroad to educate other countries about the role of religion in the United States. Rauf made similar trips during the Bush administration. […]
“This shows a tremendous lack of judgment on behalf of the State Department; and for the American taxpayers to be funding this global journey is not only wrong, but deeply offensive,” Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the organization, said in a written statement. “It seems with each passing day we learn more disturbing information about this project and the people behind it. We demand that the State Department put a halt to the Imam’s participation in this publicly funded trip.” (Emphasis mine.)
Two lawmakers have also gone on record condemning the trip, says CNN:
Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Peter King (R-NY), the ranking members of the Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security committees, called the State Department’s funding of Rauf’s trip “unacceptable,” and said American taxpayers should not have to subsidize his tour.
The State Department response? Nothing to see here:
“He is a distinguished Muslim cleric,” said State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley. “We do have a program whereby, through our Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau here at the State Department, we send people from Muslim communities here in this country around the world to help people overseas understand our society and the role of religion within our society.”
The State Department has “a long-term relationship” with Rauf, Crowley told reporters, noting that Rauf had visited Bahrain, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar in 2007 and went to Egypt last January as part of an exchange program run by the department’s Office of International Information Programs.
“His work on tolerance and religious diversity is well-known and he brings a moderate perspective to foreign audiences on what it’s like to be a practicing Muslim in the United States,” Crowley said.
This admitted “long-term relationship” with Rauf makes the administration’s reticence over the Ground Zero project even more curious. Given that we’re footing the bill for these jaunts to the Middle East, we deserve to know a little more about this “relationship.” (I’m looking at you, too, Bush.) What, exactly, ingratiated him to our government the most: Was it his refusal to call Hamas a terrorist organization, his claiming that “American political structure is ‘Sharia compliant,'” laughably calling Muhammad the “first feminist” or was it implicating the United States as partially responsible for the attacks on 9/11?
Perhaps national sensitivity concerning the prospective mosque should take precedence over a taxpayer funded global religion class, long-term relationship aside? Just a thought.