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August 15, 2010
Washington Post glosses over Imam Rauf's blaming US for 9/11
In its Aug. 14 edition, the Washington Post , in reporting President Obama's backing of a mosque near Ground Zero, provides its readers a glowing account of its imam and chief sponsor, Feisal Abdul Rauf ("President defends plans for N.Y. mosque -- Joins Debate Over Ground Zero Site -- Blocking project would violate freedom of worship, he says" front-page, by Michael D. Shear and Scott Wilson).
Here's how the article puts it:
"Faisal Abdul Rauf, the imam who is the project's sponsor, has promoted the center as a place to foster religious tolerance, Islamic heritage and healing. Rauf has been vilified by some GOP opponents of the mosque, but he was one of the loudest Muslim voices condemning the Sept. 11 attacks and was a frequent guest and adviser to former president George W. Bush."
But in certifying Imam Rauf's bona fides to build the $100 million complex, Shear and Wilson omitted a few not-so-nice aspects of his views about 9/11, Osama bin Laden and terrorism.
Such as when Imam Rauf said:
--Less than three weeks after 9/11 on CBS' ''60 Minutes" that "United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened (on 9/11)...Because we have been accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world."
--Again on the same program when America mourned nearly 3,000 dead that "in fact, in the most direct sense, Obama bin Laden is made in the USA."
--"The U.S. must acknowledge the harm they have done to Muslims before terrorism can end" (Wafa Sultan, "A Mosque at Ground Zero Equals Victory" Hudson, New York, May 19, 2010).
--In response to a question about whether he condemns Hamas terrorism, that "I'm not a politician. I try to avid the issues. The issue of terrorism is a very complex question. I'm a bridge builder. I do not want to be placed in a position where I am the target of one side or the other." (World Net Daily, June 20, 2010)
These statements by Imam Rauf don't exactly mesh with the Post's assurances to its readers that he would do great things for "religious tolerance and healing." And they also seem to give a somewhat different picture of Imam Rauf than the Wilson-Shear portrayal of him as "one of the loudest Muslim voices condemning the Sept. 11 attacks."
A news article, particularly one about a national controversy about the advisability of mosque near Ground Zero, shouldn't take sides, but present both sides of this hot-button issue.
By failing this basic journalistic test, the Post validates reader complaints that too much editorializing in pursuit of an ideological agenda permeates the paper's news pages. And that in turns tends to shred the Post's credibility -- a fragile and precious commodity.