Hamas supports the right of Muslims to pray in mosques — even in New York

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.

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Comments

  1. Colm O' Toole says:

    Maybe someone should mention that Hamas ruled Gaza has 3000 Greek Orthodox Christians who worship in the Orthodox Churches there. As well at the Latin Church in Gaza for Catholics. Maybe after the Gaza bombings Hamas should have closed those churches in Gaza because of “local sensitivities”.

  2. If I’m not mistaken there aren’t new churches being built in Israel, they are all in Palestine. Funny, the Islamaphobes will claim the church of the Sepulcher and confuse Palestinian Bethlehem with Israeli territory. So, increasingly the US is becoming more and more similar to Israel and Saudi Arabia. Great model to emulate. The discussion on this has been disgusting.

    And Cordova is being slandered. Cordova is the root of Western Jurisprudence. Western philosophy, Aristotle and the first “atheistic” philosophy was introduced from the Muslim world. Voltaire hints at this in his writings, but the Muslim heritage and contribution, for these same propagandistic reasons has been hidden from much Western scholarship.

  3. Interesting to see that Mahmoud al-Zahar speaks of being misrepresented — Tamimi and Alastair Crooke have written extensively on these issues, much of which can be read on his excellent Conflicts Forum website. Apparently, a number of strict Salafi/Wahabbi scholars have derided the organization’s interest in democratic process and for their willingness to work with Kufar.

    It’s not as black and white as the main stream press make out as usual, and of course, they’d love to see the organization remain alienated from mainstream discourse, but even ultra mainstream figures like Jimmy Carter said their election was totally fair and democratic.

    Which, of course, is why ‘our’ leaders can’t stand them.

  4. Barney, it’s Kafr not Kufar.

  5. Scott, you are wrong I am afraid: put “kufar” or “kuffar” into google, and you’ll find :

    Also spelled ‘kafir’ or ‘kaffir’, Kuffar is a highly derogatory Arabic term used to refer to non-Muslims, though it is usually directed less against “People of the Book” (Christians and Jews) and more against others (Hindus, Buddhists, Shintoists, etc). Separate laws govern Muslims and kuffars in an Islamic state with kuffars being viciously suppressed. For example: the blood payment to the family of a murdered Muslim man in Saudi Arabia is 1,000,000 Riyals; the payment to the family of a murdered Hindu woman is 3,333 Riyals.

    Against kuffars make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war to strike terror into the (hearts of) the Enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others beside, whom you may not know, but whom Allah does know. Whatever you shall spend in the Cause of Allah, shall be repaid to you, and you shall not be treated unjustly. (Qur’an: 8:60)

  6. Anyway, I’d like to not get into that area — because it leads to conflict.

    Irrespective of how the word is, or isn’t spelt ( the net clearly shows diverse spelling ), I should not have used it, because it’s one of those inflammatory words like ‘nigger’ that white racists use, and also black people use in differing ways.

    White racists love the explosiveness of the “Kufr” word : It taps into their dialectic that says that Islam hates “us”. It is common amongst those nationalist/neo fascist groups to wear t shirts with slogans such as “kuffar and proud” or, ‘proud infidel” . It is however, equally often used as a term of violent insult by minority Muslim groups like Al Guraba, Muhajiroun, and other reactionary Wahabbi and Salafi groups.

    Ultimately thought, to me, the white power groups AND some of the Salafi sects such as the ones run by Anjem Choudry and others, are as bad as each other. I have little patience with either of them.( It’s also highly likely that groups like the EDL, the white power neo fascist anti Muslim groups AND some of the Wahabbi/Salafi sects in UK are inflitrated by those who love to spread mischief.)

    To reiterate — I wish I hadn’t even used that word.

    Anyway — my point was, that Azzam Tamimi makes it clear in his writing on Hamas that they are very willing to take part in the democratic process — so much so that that Wahabbi/Salafi groups have labelled them as shameful collaborators with the kufr.