“Ground Zero Mosque” Imam to Represent U.S.August 10, 2010 - 12:44 PM | by: Eric Shawn
He’s the Imam behind the controversial Mosque scheduled to be built near Ground Zero, and he will be traveling the world representing the United States.
It turns out the Obama administration thinks Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is the right man to participate in a State Department trip to Muslim countries in the Middle East.
“The State Department has no responsibility to send fruitcakes around as if they are representatives of America,” says former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, who told Fox News that Imam Rauf should be dumped from the trip and that the State Department should investigate how he was included in the first place.
“I am just amazed that he could be selected to represent our country speaking around the world,” Bolton observes.
Imam Rauf has been a lightning rod for many.
While Time magazine called him “The Moderate Imam Behind The ‘Ground Zero Mosque,’” he recently refused to call Hamas a terrorist organization and he has said that the United States was partly to blame for the terrorist attacks on 9-11.
In an interview with “60 Minutes,” in 2001, Rauf claimed that U.S. policies were quote, “an accessory” to the 9-11 attacks.
He also was quoted in a 2008 interview for “Malaysia Matters” saying that “when people feel they’ve been humiliated, when people feel they’ve been frustrated, when people feel they’ve been ignored, when people feel justice is not meted, then they feel the need to conflagrate.”
The controversy over the Mosque, and the Imam’s views, haven’t stopped the Obama administration from planning to send him soon as part of a special State Department cultural program, that reportedly includes stops in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Abu Dhabi.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley praised the Imam, calling him “a distinguished Muslim cleric,” who is part of a program where “we send people from Muslim communities here in this country around the world to help people overseas to understand our society and the role of religion within our society.”
Crowley also said that fundraising on the Imam’s trip for the Islamic Center would not be allowed.
It turns out that this government supported trip will be the Imam’s third with the State Department. Crowley said the first was in 2007, during the Bush administration, and that Rauf went to Egypt this past January.
“We have a long term relationship with him,” Crowley explained. “His work on tolerance and religious diversity is well known and he brings a moderate perspective to foreign audiences on what it is like to be a practicing Muslim in the United States.”
But Bolton points to the Imam’s controversial comments as proof that he should not go.
“Many of his statements support terrorism in effect. He has blamed terrorism on frustration and said it causes people to ‘conflagrate,’ a new word that he has apparently invented. That is the classic justification for radical terrorism. It is unacceptable to the overwhelming majority of American people and really civilized people around the world.”
Bolton says “The idea that U.S. tax dollars are putting somebody who is prepared to defend terrorism on the road internationally, on behalf of the United States, is just inexplicable.”
Bolton also thinks the cultural program should be reviewed.
“This is not a question of repressing religious freedom or anything like that,” he says. “It’s a question of making sure that a program that’s intended to show America to the rest of the world, in fact is doing that instead of being used as a propaganda device by a highly radical, very tiny fraction of people in this country.”
A request for an interview with the Imam about the trip was not answered, but his office has told Fox News that he is currently abroad.