How Should We Understand the Al-Arabiya Editor?

Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, Al-Arabiya TV director-general and the paper's former editor wrote a column on August 16, 2010 in which he stated that "though [President Obama's] position was correct in principle, that is, in terms of the principle of freedom of worship, ...[Mr. Obama] took a political stand that is unnecessary and unimportant...."

In fact, even among the most ardent opposition, no one has said that Muslims do not have the right to worship; the controversy concerns the placement of the mosque itself.

According to Al-Rashed, "Muslims are [more] concerned about issues that involve the destinies of [entire] peoples...such as the establishment of the Palestinian state."  In fact, Mr. Al-Rashed believes that he "can't imagine that Muslims [actually] want a mosque at this particular location, because it will become an arena for the promoters of hatred, and a monument to those who committed the crime."

At no point in his piece, does Mr. Al-Rashed speak about Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the man behind the controversial ground zero mosque.  Instead, Mr. Al-Rashed states that

[T]hose pushing to build this mosque may be construction companies, architect firms, or political groups who want to exploit this issue. The individual who submitted the building application ~ I do not know whether he [really] wants [to build] a mosque that will promote reconciliation, or whether he is [just] an investor looking for quick profits.

This last paragraph seem a bit disingenuous to me.

But in fairness to Mr. Al-Rashed, he then states that "the last thing Muslims want today is to build a religious center that provokes others, or a symbolic mosque that people will visit as a [kind] of a museum next to a cemetery."

In a more forceful remark about the mosque, Mr. Al-Rashed states "that the battle against the 9/11 terrorists is not [an American] battle.  It is a Muslim battle ~ one whose flames are still raging in more than 20 Muslim countries..."

But, in fact, the battle against terrorism is very much an American battle.  If we cannot identify the enemy, how can we defeat him?  Is Mr. Al-Rashed saying that there are forces within the Muslim world who truly want to destroy the jihadist terrorists who are attempting and, in many cases, succeeding in imposing their ideology on the entire world?  Where might they be?

Finally Mr. Al-Rashed states that the majority of Muslims do not "want to build a monument or a place of worship that tomorrow may become a source of pride for the terrorists and their Muslim followers, nor do they want a mosque that will become a shrine for the haters of Islam."

Is this the beginning of a courageous voice of reason within the Muslim world?  Or, is it a way of distracting Americans from the issue and keeping Islamic advancement under wraps?  Time will tell.

Eileen can be reached at