Monday, August 29, 2011

The 10-Year 9-11 Commemoration and Mayor Bloomberg

Gary Fouse

I never have been able to figure out this mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York. Not being a resident of the Big Apple, I am not qualified to comment on his overall performance, but this ten year anniversary of 9-11 is causing a lot of anger. Bloomberg has announced that there will be no religious services or clergy involved with the event and further that first responders also will not be invited to participate (due to space issues.)

Given the number of VIPs who will be invited to participate, it would seem proper for them to give up their invitations in favor of the true heroes of 9-11. As we know, so many first responders also died in the attack while trying to save others. I am not saying President Obama should not be there-he should as well as family survivors of those who died. Yet, this is nothing less than a slap in the face of those who risked their lives and survived.

As for the second issue, it is obvious that Bloomberg is trying to avoid the difficulty in inviting Christian and Jewish clergy while not inviting Muslim clergy-which would infuriate many in itself. The obvious escape hatch is to take out any religious aspects. Yet, what is a ten-year commemoration of this tragedy without anyone praying?

It comes down to this; is it appropriate for Muslim officials or clergy to attend this event since 9-11 was carried out largely in the name of Islam and Allah?

Remember when German chancellor Willy Brandt went to the Warsaw ghetto in 1970 to participate in a commemoration there?

For Germany, this was a public gesture of atonement for the crimes committed by Germany in World War II. Brandt was never a Nazi. He was an opponent of the Nazis who fled to Norway and Sweden and stayed there during the war years. In addition, Germany regularly makes gestures of contrition for what happened in the Nazi years. I have written about what the city of Erlangen does to commemorate the night of Kristallnacht. The commemoration is held at the local Jewish cemetery. Other cities also recognize their responsibility in this regard. In my view, Germans like Brandt have performed beautiful gestures in the years since World War II. The nation has also striven to educate its youth about the events of the past in the hope that such acts will never be repeated

Is this even a valid comparison?

Does that mean that all Germans today, born after the war, are responsible? No. It must also be said that millions of Germans in the Nazi years committed no crimes. Yet the stain is there. Horrible acts were committed in the name of Germany.

That leads me to ask; who would represent the Muslim faith at a 9-11 commemoration and what would such person say? Would he or she say that the people who carried out 9-11 were not following the teachings of Islam and the Prophet Mohammed? (They thought they were.) Would a Muslim speaker say that the people who carried out 9-11 had misinterpreted Islam?  Would they say that 9-11 was not carried out on behalf of American Muslims? Would they point out that Muslims also died on 9-11? Would they state that Islam is a religion of peace? Would the speaker(s) say that they felt shame over 9-11 and wanted to atone and stand with America in its fight to prevent further attacks? Would they disown the words of hateful speakers like Yusuf al Qaradawi, who is the spiritual mentor of the Muslim Brotherhood and considered one of the leading Islamic scholars in the world? Would the speaker(s) state that too much hate is being preached in many American mosques and that it has to stop? Would any of the speakers proclaim that Islam  requires a Reformation to rid itself of its violent and elements?

Please understand that these are not rhetorical questions and I am not presupposing any of the above. I think they are legitimate questions. Were any Muslim representatives to speak, the reception they received would depend on much on what they said.

Another issue would be who should represent Islam at the 9-11 commemoration.  There are a host of so-called moderates to whom the government has reached out to since 9-11 to represent the Islamic faith. Sadly, some of these people have proven to be wolves in sheep's clothing like Abdulrahman Alamoudi, who is now in prison. Others enjoy a reputation as "bridge-builders" who travel the interfaith circuit yet have been known to have questionable associations with radicals and to have made questionable statements.

Were I to invite a Muslim speaker, it would be one who I have full confidence in as a true American moderate, someone like Zuhdi Jasser or Stephen Schwartz. Yet these are figures that our government leaders are reluctant to reach out to because they tell the truth about the threat we face.

Mayor Bloomberg apparently has chosen to avoid all of these questions by excluding any religious aspect to the commemoration. That still leaves unanswered whether we will see representatives of organizations like CAIR present. Undoubtedly, millions of peaceful American Muslims would like to see some Muslim representation at the commemoration. In my view, CAIR would be a huge mistake.

Bloomberg understandably has a "sticky wicket" on his hands, as I believe the British expression goes.

He might still consider Jasser and Schwartz.

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