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 near 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 say, 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.