Fox News have recently been at the forefront of whipping up hysteria about the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque”. This is actually quite a major turnaround for them, considering that Fox had previously interviewed both Imam Rauf (the head of the Cordoba Initiative) and his wife Daisy Khan, and their attitudes towards these individuals and their efforts were very positive indeed. Park51/Cordoba House was even explicitly discussed with Daisy Khan during an interview in December 2009, and the Fox anchor at the time stated “I can’t find many people who really have a problem with it….I like what you’re trying to do.”
With the exception of the upbeat interview with Daisy Khan on Fox News after the New York Times published a detailed front-page article on 9th December 2009 about the plans for Park51/Corboda House, there was no reaction from the “conservative Right” and no newspaper articles about the subject at all for the next five months…..until Fox News began taking a stridently hostile view towards the building in May 2010.
Someone who has been a particularly vociferous opponent – and an individual who has subsequently been provided with considerable public exposure by Fox News — has been Pamela Geller of “Stop the Islamization of America”, who is allied with racist white supremacists in South Africa and has also openly praised the English Defence League/EDL on a number of occasions, to the extent that she’s repeatedly been in contact with the EDL’s leadership; apparently she also firmly believes that US President Barack Obama is secretly a Muslim.
Fox News’s own promotion of consistently anti-Muslim stories has of course become an established characteristic of the channel. And most recently, Fox News have run multiple news segments making sinister insinuations about a shadowy Saudi Arabian figure with alleged ties to radical Islamist extremists who owns the “Kingdom Foundation” (aka Kingdom Holding Company) and has allegedly been a major financier of Park51/Cordoba House. Fox News have never named this person on-air.
The second-largest shareholder in Fox News
However, as viewers of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show will have found out a few days ago, the individual concerned is Al-Waleed bin Talal, a Saudi Arabian prince who is actually the second-largest shareholder of News Corp, the company which owns Fox News itself. He owns a $3 billion stake in the company. The only person who owns a bigger share is Rupert Murdoch himself. Not only that, but the prince concerned is also the chairman of Rotana, a Saudi-based media group which News Corp has been heavily engaged in further business dealings with; in fact, they recently had a high-level meeting with the prince, as shown in the photograph at the top of this article.
As Jon Stewart himself accurately observed, this has two ramifications: Either Fox News were so ignorant that they were completely unaware that the person they’ve been repeatedly making allegations about is actually the second-largest owner of their own company……Or they were already perfectly aware of this fact, but have deliberately been hiding it and have been pushing their anti-Muslim propaganda anyway. The latter is continuing to have destructive consequences both for American attitudes towards Muslims and for the ordinary Muslim population of the US itself; not only are people now advocating that mosques should be banned completely in the US, but there have even been incidents such as a black construction worker from the real Ground Zero building site almost getting lynched by a baying mob of people protesting against Park51/Cordoba House who automatically assumed that he was a Muslim (he isn’t) – or, even worse, a taxi driver in New York who was repeatedly stabbed by a passenger after the latter asked him if he was a Muslim (he is).
The fallout doesn’t stop there; as discussed in the New York Times, the actions of Fox News and their “conservative Right” supporters now risk severely damaging the American military and diplomatic efforts in Afghanistan which are being led by General David Petraeus. As confirmed by an ex-FBI interrogator of Al-Qaeda suspects, it also hands a propaganda coup to Al-Qaeda and to Osama bin Laden himself. And as a textbook example of adding fuel to the fire (almost literally, in this case), a church in Florida is still planning to go ahead with its plans to publicly burn a bonfire of Qurans on the anniversary of 9/11 this year; ironically, the pastor primarily responsible has admitted that he knows absolutely nothing about the Quran’s contents.
These attitudes, and the associated behaviour, would be abhorrent enough in any country which claimed to be civilised. However, it is an absolute travesty for them to be exhibited by such large numbers of people, including senior Republican politicians and one of the country’s most high-profile news channels, in a country whose history includes the kind of moral & intellectual giants who were responsible for the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Gettysburg Address. So much for “never again” and “learning the lessons of history”. It is also horrifyingly clear that proponents of the Big Lie propaganda technique exist in some influential quarters of modern-day America.
Recent news segments about the “Ground Zero Mosque”
The following videos are definitely worth watching in full:
Keith Olbermann on MSNBC. He makes a series of brilliant points, some of which overlap with the contents of my previous PP article on the “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy (Part 1, Part 2), and demolishes the claims of the anti-Muslim bigots along with discussing the potential consequences if these disturbing attitudes are allowed to continue unchallenged :
Fareed Zakaria on CNN. He provides a short overview of Sufism, and raises the pertinent question of the irrationality of hostility towards the type of liberal Muslims which Al-Qaeda themselves have a murderous level of hatred for. (Sufism was also previously discussed in detail on PP here, here, here, here, here, and here) :
Doing Al-Qaeda’s dirty work for them
In a nutshell, the “conservative Right” in the United States and their supporters overseas who have been particularly vehemently opposed to Imam Rauf, the Cordoba Initiative, and increasingly towards ordinary Muslims and mosques in America as a whole, can be described as engaging in the following actions:
· Falsely claiming that the United States is fundamentally based on Christianity (and that this was the specific intention of the Founding Fathers) and advocating its primacy over other religions and their adherents, thereby violating the principles of both the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and the contents of Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli. The latter explicitly states that “as the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion….it has in itself no character of enmity towards the laws, religion, or tranquillity of Musselmen [ie. Muslims]“; it was signed in 1797 directly by the second American president John Adams, the Founding Father who was the successor to George Washington and the immediate predecessor of President Thomas Jefferson (another Founding Father and the author of the Declaration of Independence), and it was ratified & unanimously approved by Congress.
· Persecution of Sufis;
· Advocating the duplication of fundamentalist Wahhabi Saudi Arabian policies towards minority places of worship;
· Holding your own country’s citizens hostage to – and penalising them for – the actions of foreign governments and foreign terrorists because they happen to be affiliated with superficially the same religion, even if they belong to completely different “denominations”;
· Turning against ordinary moderate Muslims and deliberately undertaking actions which will alienate them from the majority non-Muslim population;
· Deliberately undertaking actions which will “confirm” Al-Qaeda’s propaganda that America is an enemy of Islam and that Muslims en masse are a persecuted group worldwide;
· Falsely claiming that the most ultraorthodox, fundamentalist interpretation of Islam is the only “true” version of that religion;
· Falsely claiming that Muslims on an international level are a united, monolithic, homogenous block, defined by the most ultraorthodox version of Islam;
· Harking back to centuries-old events involving some members of your opponents’ religion in order to justify your current actions;
Such people aren’t just mirroring the attitudes of Islamist extremists; they’re actually furthering Al-Qaeda’s fanatical agenda by confirming their propaganda. To all intents and purposes, they’re doing Al-Qaeda’s dirty work for them and are playing right into the terrorists’ hands.
You could, in fact, call them “the enemy within”.
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Filed in: Civil liberties,Current affairs,Muslim,Religion,United States