Hamas supports the right of Muslims to pray in mosques — even in New York

Israel/Palestine
on 12 Comments

Hamas has leaped into the New York mosque controversy — well, actually, not so much leaped as diffidently tiptoed when pressed to express an opinion on the issue.

In an interview on New York’s WABC radio (audio can be heard here), Mahmoud al-Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas who is in the Gaza political leadership, was asked by Aaron Klein to comment on the construction of the mosque.

Without addressing the question directly, Zahar chose to respond by pointing out that Muslims in America are like Muslims elsewhere, living in accordance with Islam, fasting (during Ramadan), praying and so forth. He then went on to say that Hamas is being misrepresented by those who would liken it to the Taliban and that it is recognized across the Islamic world as a moderate organization.

Klein, however, wanted to focus on the mosque controversy and returned to that question:


Klein: What do you think about the new initiative to build a mosque new the World Trade Center in New York, which is a major point of controversy on all sides?

Zahar: We have to build the mosque as you are allowed to build the church and the Israeli are building their holy places. 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.

Muslims should be allowed to worship in mosques, just like Christians going to church and Jews going to the synagogue.

Not much controversy there, right?

Well, the New York Post seems eager to pour fuel on the fire by inserting a few words in order to imply that Hamas (and Muslims in general) are engaged in territorial expansion.

A leader of the Hamas terror group yesterday jumped into the emotional debate on the plan to construct a mosque near Ground Zero — insisting Muslims “have to build” it there.

“We have to build everywhere,” said Mahmoud al-Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas and the organization’s chief on the Gaza Strip.

“In every area we have, [as] Muslim[s], we have to pray, and this mosque is the only site of prayer,” he said on “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio” on WABC.

“In every area we have Muslims, we have to pray,” which is to safront081610y, wherever Muslims live they have a religious obligation to gather for prayer and they do this in mosques.

But then we get the New York Post twist: “In every area we have, [as] Muslims[s], we have to pray,” conjures up a completely different picture. Lower Manhattan is now an area that Muslims claim as their own — at least the New York Post appears to want to promote this lie.

Let’s see whether anyone in the mainstream media is willing to correct this flagrant distortion. I’m not holding my breath.

This is cross-posted at Woodward’s site, War in Context.

12 Responses

  1. Seham
    August 16, 2010, 12:14 pm

    Not just the New York Times, but I woke up this morning to find that this “story” fed into my google reader repeatedly from ALL news agencies: of course the Israeli press were the first to pounce.

    Media in this country = big joke.

  2. Pamela Olson
    August 16, 2010, 1:50 pm

    Dude, Hamas can’t win in our media, no matter what they say. If Khalid Meshaal said, “Kittens are cute,” there would be a headline the next day that said HAMAS LEADER PROMOTES BESTIALITY.

    It doesn’t matter what they say, think, or do. The Western media has a picture of them, and they aren’t deviating an inch, even if mountains of evidence contradict that image.

    I wish it was just the media. But Washington is pretty much the same way.

  3. eljay
    August 16, 2010, 2:14 pm

    >> We have to build the mosque as you are allowed to build the church and the Israeli are building their holy places. 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.

    It’s a shame that so many Middle Eastern types come across as mindless religious fanatics. I get what Zahar is saying, but unfortunately that particular comment comes across as brusque, inelegant and poorly reasoned.

    A few lessons in PR and public speaking would be very beneficial. :-)

  4. Chu
    August 16, 2010, 2:19 pm

    what a dirty game the NYPost continues to play. This paper is cheap (.25 cents) and caters to those that are unaware glib propaganda exists in their daily newsprint. And page 6, is a sorry excuse to buy this paper.

  5. hophmi
    August 16, 2010, 2:43 pm

    This is something that I believe is confined to the Post, which did the same thing with Debbie Almontaser and has done the same thing with others on unrelated issues. All tabloids do this to some extent, but the Post has a history of doing it, and doing it flagrantly. It sounds to me like the Post exploited his less-than-stellar English skills. Someone I knew, a teacher, was hatcheted this way and it was shameful.

    I don’t think Mahmoud Zahar has a great deal of credibility on the question of religious pluralism given how Hamas operates in Gaza, but I am not surprised that the Post, which is a straight-out Islamophobic newspaper, jumped on it as an opportunity to smear supporters of the mosque.

    • Avi
      August 16, 2010, 7:25 pm

      I don’t think Mahmoud Zahar has a great deal of credibility on the question of religious pluralism given how Hamas operates in Gaza

      And how does Hamas “operate” in Gaza?

      Would it be possible to receive a succinctly written explanation?

      Why is it that you expect those reading your comment to take such a slogan as a given, as though Hamas’ policies are intrinsically and universally recognized as evil.

      I’m not asking for talking points from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or from the ADL’s website. I’m asking for an objective examination of Hamas’ policies.

      Can you provide something like that?

    • Chaos4700
      August 16, 2010, 8:10 pm

      This is something that I believe is confined to the Post, which did the same thing with Debbie Almontaser and has done the same thing with others on unrelated issues.

      Gee, yeah, and we all remember how the whole affair with Debbie Almontaser was handled without media hype and how she got the job she deserved in spite of the issue being confined to a tabloid rag, huh.

  6. Seham
    August 16, 2010, 2:47 pm

    Muslim leaders to abandon plans for Ground Zero community center
    Insiders say Muslim spiritual leaders behind the controversial initiative are considering giving up on the former World Trade Center location, in a gesture of appeasement.
    link to haaretz.com

    Reid: Build mosque elsewhere; Reid says he supports mosque, not at ground zero
    The Senate’s top Democrat says a mosque should not be built near the site of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada on Monday became the highest profile Democrat to break with President Barack Obama, who on Friday backed the right for the developers to build a mosque near ground zero. In a statement, Reid said the first amendment protects freedom of religion and he respects that, but the mosque should be built somewhere else.
    link to rawstory.com

    • Adam Horowitz
      August 16, 2010, 3:44 pm

      Leaders of the Park 51 effort have already announced that this story is completely false. They just announced over twitter they will be releasing a press release soon.

      • Seham
        August 16, 2010, 3:54 pm

        Thanks for the update dear

    • Chaos4700
      August 16, 2010, 8:11 pm

      Substitute “mosque” with “black church.” Or better yet, “synagogue.”

      The more things change, the more things stay the same, huh.

  7. Avi
    August 16, 2010, 7:31 pm

    This entire “controversy” strikes me as absurd. Not only is it not a mosque, it’s being touted both as a desecration of the victims’ memory and an insensitive act. Newt Gingrich equated Islam with Nazism. The US is fighting a war on terror against the wrong fanatics. Not that most of those slaughtered so far at the hands of the US/NATO war machine haven’t been innocent civilians, they have.

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