Imam Feisal Abdur Rauf, regarded as one of the softest voices in North America
n Islam, wants to establish a new mosque and cultural centre some 2 blocks from the site of what was once the World Trade Centre in New York.
Opposition to the project is led by a blogger named Pamela Geller and author Robert Spencer who have formed a group calling itself Stap the Islamisation of America.
So who are these people? Here is how one local website covered the group's protest:
Only a handful of victims' relatives came on Sunday.
Sunday's crowd included representatives of the conservative Tea Party movement, some of them wearing anti-tax T-shirts that had nothing to do with Ground Zero, Islam or terrorism.
"We must take a stand and we must say no," shouted rally organizer Pamela Geller as the crowd roared approval. Moments later, another keynote speaker, Robert Spencer, sparked more cheers when he asked, "Are you tired of being lied to?"
Spencer, however, did not explain precisely what lies he was referring to.
Many protesters held American flags. Many carried signs ...
Clearly these people weren't very smart. Here's why.
At one point, a portion of the crowd menacingly surrounded two Egyptian men who were speaking Arabic and were thought to be Muslims.
"Go home," several shouted from the crowd.
"Get out," others shouted.
In fact, the two men – Joseph Nassralla and Karam El Masry — were not Muslims at all. They turned out to be Egyptian Coptic Christians who work for a California-based Christian satellite TV station called "The Way." Both said they had come to protest the mosque.
"I'm a Christian," Nassralla shouted to the crowd, his eyes bulging and beads of sweat rolling down his face.
But it was no use. The protesters had become so angry at what they thought were Muslims that New York City police officers had to rush in and pull Nassralla and El Masry to safety.
"I flew nine hours in an airplane to come here," a frustrated Nassralla said afterward.
Yep, if you look like Jesus, you ain't welcome! Another "Tea Party" protestor decided to drag monkeys into the controversy:
... the proposed mosque has also drawn criticism, including a blast from a Tea Party bigwig who said it would serve as a tribute to the 9/11 terrorists "for the worship of the terrorists' monkey-god."
Words © 2010 Irfan Yusuf
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