Douthat on Moderate Islam & Imam Rouf

Monday, August 30, 2010 2:25 PM Comments (17)

Just a quick follow-up to last week’s mega-post series on the “Ground Zero Mosque” and Imam Faisal Rouf:

Catholic blogger Ross Douthat recently wrote a couple of measured, sensible posts (post 1, post 2) about Imam Rouf and moderate Islam—at least, I find them measured and sensible, since they coverge nicely with my own take on the subject.

On the tricky business of building bridges and the tendency of such pioneers to seem shifty and two-faced, Douthat writes that some Western critics insist that “moderate Muslims” must prove their “bona fides” by “making a frontal assault on Islamic culture as it currently exists.” Would-be “bridge builders” like Rouf are seen as “suspect,...READ MORE

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Cordoba House: A Closer Look at the "Ground Zero Mosque"


Tuesday, August 24, 2010 3:17 AM Comments (29)

Ground Zero, July 2010 (

Intro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Although my normal blogging beat is movies, I’ve been writing 9/11-related pieces since September 2001. I live in New Jersey, but New York is practically my second home city; I went to school there, and I’m there all the time for screenings and such. On September 11, 2001 I watched with my own eyes from my balcony at work across the Hudson in New Jersey as the towers burned and fell.

I didn’t know anyone who died at Ground Zero, but my brother-in-law, whom I mentioned in that first story and in other 9/11 related pieces, was in the dust cloud on that day. Almost exactly five years later, right at the time that numerous cases of 9/11-related respiratory...READ MORE

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Cordoba House: A Closer Look, Part 7

Building Bridges

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 3:17 AM Comments (32)

Intro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Previous: The Mosque and the Monastery

Finally, one last point about the Carmelites at Auschwitz is worth noting. The Carmelites were not forcibly expelled; they left in response to objections from Jewish groups—though it was Pope John Paul II, not the Carmelites, who acknowledged the legitimacy of Jewish concerns in this regard, and the nuns apparently took their sweet time about leaving, missing the pope’s deadline by a few years.

The Park51 project should not go forward at 51 Park Way. But what should opponents do about their concerns? The best solution would be if project sponsors came to recognize the insensitivity of their proposal and voluntarily...READ MORE

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Cordoba House: A Closer Look, Part 6

The Mosque and the Monastery

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 3:16 AM Comments (2)

Intro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Previous: What’s In a Name?

Attempts to express the insensitivity of the Cordoba project have not always been as effective as possible. Opponents have compared it to a Japanese monument at Pearl Harbor or an American monument at Hiroshima. While these examples illustrate the principle of the need for sensitivity and respect in connection with what may be called sacred sites, as direct analogies they are more misleading than illustrative. Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima were bombed not just by, respectively, Japanese and Americans, but by Japan and America. These were acts of nations, sanctioned by their governments and carried out by their military. By...READ MORE

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Cordoba House: A Closer Look, Part 5

What's in a Name?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 3:15 AM Comments (0)

Intro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Previous: How Close is Too Close?

What about the name Cordoba House? As noted above, the project is being co-sponsored by Rauf’s Cordoba Initiative, and a number of sources report that the project was originally called Cordoba House, but was subsequently changed (perhaps in response to controversy) to the neutral, non-descriptive “Park51,” after the street address. However, it seems project sponsors are using both names—but not interchangeably.

The Park51 website calls the project “the community center at Park51,” but also speaks of a “center for multifaith dialogue and engagement” within the community center called Cordoba House. Perhaps the name...READ MORE

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Cordoba House: A Closer Look, Part 4

How Close is Too Close?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 3:14 AM Comments (0)

Intro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Previous: Location, Location, Location

Advocates attempt to turn this logic on its head, arguing that proximity to the site of the 9/11 attacks makes the site a desirable location for a facility that sponsors say will be devoted to promoting Muslim-West relations. What, they ask, could be a more powerful rebuttal to the radical Islamic narrative about the Great Satan America’s implacable enmity toward Muslims and Islam than for Americans to welcome and accept Muslims here, of all places? What better way to showcase our commitment to religious freedom than to refuse to allow bitterness over the attacks to harden our hearts toward other Muslims who had...READ MORE

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Cordoba House: A Closer Look, Part 3

Location, Location, Location

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 3:13 AM Comments (0)

Intro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Previous: Who is Imam Rauf?

Located a couple of blocks from the former World Trade Center, this site in question is partly occupied by a building that until 2001 was leased to the Burlington Coat Factory. On September 11, the building was damaged by airplane parts falling from the stricken towers. After that, it stood empty until 2009, when it was purchased by a Muslim-owned real estate and development company and began to be used for prayer services for lower Manhattan’s growing Muslim community. Services at the site are led by Imam Rauf. The project will span the lot for the present building and an adjacent building to be purchased.

Opponents argue...READ MORE

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Cordoba House: A Closer Look, Part 2

Who is Imam Rauf?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 3:12 AM Comments (2)

Intro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Previous: Mosque or Community Center?

Routinely described in the mainstream media as a moderate and a champion of moderate Islam, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf says that his work and organizations are dedicated to “building bridges” between Islam and the West. Critics charge that Rauf is actually a supporter of radical Islam and terrorist violence.

The facts seem to have been somewhat muddled on all sides. The problems start with Rauf’s own penchant for slippery, obfuscatory rhetoric and agenda-laden doublespeak — probably a symptom of his “bridge building” efforts to reach out to multiple constituencies at once. In addition, sympathetic media have engaged in...READ MORE

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About Steven D. Greydanus

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Steven D. Greydanus is film critic for the National Catholic Register and Decent Films, the online home for his film writing. He writes regularly for Christianity Today, Catholic World Report and other venues, and is a regular guest on several radio shows. Steven has contributed several entries to the New Catholic Encyclopedia, including “The Church and Film” and a number of filmmaker biographies. He has also written about film for the Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought, Social Science, and Social Policy. He has a BFA in Media Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York, and an MA in Religious Studies from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Overbrook, PA. He is pursuing diaconal studies in the Archdiocese of Newark. Steven and Suzanne have seven children.