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>No Quran burning; no NYC mosque

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As we approach the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks this weekend, the proposed construction of a mosque near Ground Zero and a Florida church’s decision to commemorate the atrocities by sponsoring “International Burn a Quran Day” have stoked yet more religious controversy.

Liberal commentators have stepped up in defense of the mosque, insisting Imam Rauf, the man behind the development, has every right to build his mosque near the former site of the World Trade Center. While they are correct, it is ironic that the liberal establishment has not been quite so insistent about the rights of Terry Jones, the pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center church who is planning Burn a Quran Day.

This conflict embodies the emptiness of contemporary liberalism, an ideology so determined to preserve sacred ideals of cultural diversity that it refuses to confront ideologues and fanatics who want to attack our culture and impose their views on everyone.

In a 2007 interview with the Arabic newspaper Hadi el-Islam, Imam Rauf said, “…it is clear an Islamic state can be established in more than just a single form or mold. It can be established through a kingdom or a democracy. The important issue is to establish the general fundamentals of Sharia that are required to govern.”

Having established his commitment to Sharia law, the imam has also said that Sharia law and the U.S. Constitution are one in the same and that the law should be optional for Muslims living in the United States.

Sharia law is the sacred law of Islam, strictly enforced in places like Saudi Arabia, where women are forced to veil themselves in public. It would seem that liberals, who claim to be defenders of equal rights, would be repulsed at the thought of such a strict code. Instead, they are content to allow the imam to prove an “Islamic state” can be established in a democracy. Right in the middle of Manhattan, in fact.

The imam does indeed have every right to construct his mosque, or “Muslim community center,” as he calls it, near Ground Zero. But the imam may be wise to first heed his own advice.

When churches in Malaysia where bombed and burned by Muslims in January for using “Allah,” the Arabic word for God, in a Christian context, Rauf wrote, “Using the word Allah to mean the Christian God may be theologically and legally correct, but in the context of Malaysia, it is socially provocative.”

Well, building a mosque near Ground Zero may be within the imam’s rights, but in the context of the location where 3,000 Americans died in a terrorist attack carried out in the name of Islam, it is socially provocative.

Burn A Quran Day is also provocative. Like Imam Rauf, however, the pastor has every legal right to carry on with his plan. In the context of the horrific attacks perpetuated against Christians in the Muslim world, the pastor’s effort isn’t that outrageous.

For instance, early last month military authorities in Eritrea confiscated 1,500 Bibles from Christian high school students. When eight of those students then protested the burning of those Bibles, they were locked up in metal containers.

We keep hearing that Burn a Quran Day is going to inflame the Arab world. Yet, we have heard nothing of Christians revolting after the abuses against their religious brethren in Eritrea.

Ideally, all of us blessed to live in free countries would recognize that our rights come with certain responsibilities, and that we must be sensitive to the different views and cultures of our countrymen. I would never burn a Quran; doing so would be abhorrent to my Christian values and the values of my country.

However, these responsibilities apply equally to people of all faiths.

Defending the right of a Muslim imam to build a mosque near Ground Zero while criticizing a pastor for burning Qurans in protests of a religious faith that has spawned a global terrorist movement is not just hypocritical; it shows a self-loathing disregard for our country’s history, values and cultural norms.

This has become all too common for liberals, who attack Christians at every opportunity while defending Muslims for doing equally outrageous things. Defending an in-your-face Muslim minority, however, is not the route to moral supremacy that many liberals think.

Since the towers fell on Sept. 11, our servicemen and women have liberated two countries and recently ended combat operations in Iraq as that country prepares to form its second democratic government. As this anniversary approaches, we should triumph in that victory for freedom, perhaps the only good to come out of the horrendous attacks.

We should not condemn one another, and we most certainly shouldn’t apply different standards to different faiths.

Don’t burn a Quran. Don’t build a mosque near Ground Zero, either.

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