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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: September 10, 2010 @ 10:43 am

    A World Gone Mad

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    You have to admire, with a certain amount of  alarm, the largely-unfettered commitment to free speech in the United States. In this country and probably many others, that pastor who is threatening to burn the Koran would be arrested for breach of the peace and the same reason would be given for refusing to allow an Islamic centre in the vicinity of Ground Zero. A world gone mad.

    • robespierre says:

      I think he would likely be charged with incitement to racial (sic sectarian) hatred here. The signs outside his “church” that Islam is of the devil gives an indication of his sophistication. Picking-up Karen Armstrong’s book on Islam and reading it (or the Qu’ran itself) would be too much to expect of a backward hick.

      Before we go throwing abuse however at the 9/11 protests we should remember what happened to the LOVE Ulster parade in Dublin, that the Irish Rugby team did not stand to God Save The Queen in Belfast before the last rugby World cup (unlike northern Protestants who must stand for the Southern anthem) and that only during the week Scottish soccer “fans” booed Liechtenstein’s national anthem because it has the same air as God Save The Queen.

    • Mark says:

      Er. Deaglán, you realise the proposed building in New York is neither a mosque nor in the vicinity of Ground Zero? It’s a good ten-minute walk away, and not within eyesight.

      Also, a man danced on grave of the former leader of the country – equiv. to say, Reagan – here during the week and nobody said all that much? He wasn’t arrested for breach of the peace or otherwise.

      Don’t think that nutty preacher would have been arrested here, he just would have been ignored, like that preacher who ran onto the Formula One track a few years back…

    • dave says:

      I have just seen a news item in TV where a noted Muslim filmaker received death threats from fellow Muslims – presumably nutters – after he made some film about aspects of Islam. He pointed out that, like him, very many American Muslims actually oppose and are actually embarrassed by the proposed building. He also seemed to imply that the Imam involved in proposing the project may have another agenda as he must have been well aware that his proposal would trigger objections, and step on many sensitivities.

      I have also read that the very name of the Muslim organization involved in this project, the Cordoba Institute, derives from Cordoba, the first Christian city/town to have been conquered in the 8th century during the Muslim invasion of Europe. It was in Cordoba that a mosque was built about 50 years later over the original church that was destroyed. Thus the very name “Cordoba” already has a particular association with the Muslim conquest of a Christian land. The current proposal to build a mosque within a cultural centre- close to the area of the 9/11 massacre does reflect insensitivity to the famuilies of most of the 3000 victims who were not Muslim. One wonders what this Imam’s motives are, knowing all of this information would be revealed and certainly be bound to anger a lot of people.

      A parallel of sorts, but not a perfect one, might be the following: How the families of the Omagh bombing might respond if a Republican group proposed to build a monument or a social-cultural centre in Omagh close to the place where their relatives were murdered? I somehow think they also would object strongly.

    • jo blogs says:

      Then there’s the masked Islamic protesters who following the Danish cartoon held up placards calling for, inter alia, the beheading of anyone who insulted Islam/The Prophet Mohammed…whilst the Met Police looked on…none of the protesters were prosecuted for Incitement to Racial Hatred…
      Compare and contrast with the G20 Protesters one of whom was beaten by a Police Officer and subsequently died…
      Then there are the No Go areas in the North of England where white people are told to enter at their peril…what would be the equivalent to ‘hick’ as a term of abuse for them?…
      And let’s not forget the conduct of the English Rugby Team at Croke Park which probably precipitated the fans response of refusing to stand for the National Anthem…I won’t listen to it let alone stand for it… there have been many occasions when I’ve risked injury trying to get to the remote before the assault on my auditory senses…Or to paraphrase an old neighbour of ours ‘I dread me ears for hearin’ it’…

    • dave says:

      There is also an interesting situation regarding Saudi Arabia’s hypocrisy. In Ireland and Europe Muslim Cultural centres and mosques are being constructed unimpeded in the countires involved. These are largely funded by Saudi Arabia. Yet, get this. Saudi Arabia blankly refuses to permit any other religion, other than Islam to construct its religious place of worship. So, Churches, Bahai Temples, Hindu, Bhuddist temples, etc etc are absolutely prohibited ithere. Even the crucifix and the Bible are confiscated and banned by the Religiosu Police.. In many other Arab countries the authorities are also very restrcitive in this regard. For example, take Egypt: where the Coptic Chucch has great difficulty getting permission to build new churches. On Sky news today a Coptic priest told how he is still waiting for approval after having applied 2 years ago.

      Does the claim that Islam is a “a religion of tolerance” not sound to be rather hollow, and basically false. But perhaps it is not Islam that is intolerant, but the people in power who misinterpret it to serve their own ends. Would any any religion really still today prohibit the right of another religion to practice their faith. Surely this is not true of Islam, but rather is the way many Muslim countries are interpreting and practicing it. If so, then I am sure that this would be regarded by Islamic scholars as constituting a great sin against Islam, against its prophet who authored the Koran, and most imporatanly a sin againt Allah.

      I undersand also that in Indonesia and Turkey there is greater tolerance of other religions, in stark contrast to the intolerance of the Middle East. Also, in Iran the Bahai religion has suffered persecution for years.

      Seems to me that Western countries are generally much more tolerant of the practice of Islam in their countries than many Islamic countries are of the practice of Christianity and other religions in Muslim countries. There needs to be more tolerance shown by Islamic countries to non-Moslems and atheists and agnostics. It can’t be a one-way street forever

    • RRB1412 says:

      Deaglán- The “…largely- unfettered commitment to free speech in the United States” is a source of strength, not a cause for alarm. To be sure, there are those who take advantage of that commitment; Fox News springs to mind. But Mr. Jones has the right to burn Qurans, even if many find it offensive, just as the group headed by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has the right to build a mosque/community center 2 1/2 blocks north of Ground Zero, even if many find it offensive. As noted by Mark above, the proposed site of the mosque/community center, 45-51 Park Place, NYC, cannot even be seen from Ground Zero.

    • minX.ie says:

      Intuition tells me that there was a plan behind this whole “hick preacher” affair in the lead-up to this 11th September 2010, the aim of which was to polarize the raging of warring fundamentalists in virtual reality so that the masses involved might self-reflect on the ridiculousness of it all; and also “the plan” worked to reverse “the threat” (in so far as “the threat” is fundamentally psychological now) so that instead of Americans en masse feeling “the threat” (at this anniversary time) from al-Qa’ida; now, “the threat” is being felt by those fundamentalists who carried out the 9/11 atrocities. You couldn’t make it up…there had to be a plan behind this…nobody could be that “hick”…could they…that preacher had to be an FBI agent in disguise…

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      Every day those who are Christians or Jews see all manner of what they consider to be insults against their faith yet you don’t see them flying planes into buildings.

      I hesitate to bring u pthe Nazi comparison but it’s very shaky ground where we start being so scared of Muslims that we prevent people like this pastor saying what they want to. Even if we disagree. Weren’t people too scared to defend Jewish people under the Nazi’s by fear of what the Nazis would do to them.

      We know we can’t draw cartoon or not burn a book without the President of the USA, the actual President, having to spend his time addressing it instead of ignoring it.

      A Canadian special UN envoy was on BBC R4 this morning talking about his kidnapping by Al Q in Niger and how they are 7th century people living in a 21st century world. How do you change the mindset of a 7th century person.

      This silent majority of Muslims we keep hearing about need to start making their voice be heard because all we get to see of Islam at the moment is the violence and repression – the stoning of a widow in Iran, the attacks on women and schools in Afghanistan – where is this moderate voice saying enough is enough of the extremes?

      When the Pope is here next week he’ll probably be subjected to a citizen’s arrest attempt and he will certainly face protests but he won’t be calling for Jihad against those protesting.

      So what’s so special about Islam that we have to tip toe around it all the time.

    • dave says:


      According to that logic that disregards due sensitivity to the families of the 3000 victms, then all those those opposed to the building of the mosque would have the perfect right to collect the necessary funds from Americans to purchse the property that surrounds the proposed mosque and construct two huge towering churches on both sides of the mosque. These churches could ring out their bells every day in memory of the victims. A very fitting response I would say.

    • dave says:


      I agree. And nobody also could have been as insensitive as the Imam who proposed his project, like showing a red rag to a bull. Rubbing Americans’ faces in it? This project will never happen. And he knew it. Even Obama has questioned his wisdom, whilst accepting his right. Never in a million years will it happen. You can swear that on a stack of Bibles, Korans and Torahs.

    • RRB1412 says:

      dave- Either the guarantees of freedom of religion contained in the Ist Amendment to the US Constitution apply to all in the US or they apply to none. Your choice, dave; or would you prefer that Muslims in the US be denied the protection of the 1st Amendment? That might raise 14th Amendment concerns about due process and equal protection, but “insensitive” Muslims aren’t entitled to such protection, are they?

      BTW, not all of the families of the 2,752 victims oppose the building of the mosque/community center 2 1/2 blocks north of Ground Zero.

      Your suggestion that those opposed to the mosque might raise funds to “…construct two huge towering churches on boith sides of the mosque” is interesting. Any recognized religious group has the right to do so, and I support that right. But, like the proposed mosque/community center, it would be subject to local land-use and zoning laws, so “huge” and “towering” might be a problem.

      Do you have any information which indicates that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf or any of his supporters had any role in the attacks which occurred on 9/11/01? If not, is it your position that all Muslims bear responsibility for the attacks, regardless of any lack of knowledge or involvement?

    • dave says:


      Of course not all Muslims should be held responsible for the acts of those murderers.

      You are simply using pure reasoning and neglecting to also include the emotions that relatives and a lot of Americans feel. “Concern for the other”.

      The problem is that the murderers were Muslims. And it is Muslims who are proposing to expand/increase their presence just 2 blocks from the scene. A few miles away: OK, but not so close. If you can’t get it that this would offend the feelings of a large number of the relatives of the victims, in addition to many millions in the USA and elsewhere, then you yourself are being insensitive. Recall that you don’t build a church next to Auschwitz and expect there wll not be major objections. A few miles down the road, Ok, but not a few blocks away.

      Remember also that Muslim conquests were always followed by the building of mosques.. Jerusalem was never mentioned in the Koran, (in the Jewsih Bible it was mentioned over 600 times). But once conquered, a large moqsue were built over the Jewish temple site and elsewhere, and the whole area then becomes called a “Muslim land”. Conquer, build a mosque and then claim its Muslim land, when there has never been a Muslim presence ever before. Thiis was the practice of nations centuries ago, and some Muslims are today tring to continue this.

      Also take note that many Muslims in America today actually object to the proposal, and would rather that this Imam go away.

      Legal rights are not equivalent to responsiblities to your neighbour’s sensitivities. The Democrats will lose a lot of electoral support Obama should continue going on about their “rights”.

      In Ireland, Loyalists may have the right to march down Republican streets, and vice versa. But do you think it right that they should exerceise that right if it is going to upset sensitivities and increase conflcit, not diminish it. Read up on Oswald Mosely’s Fascists and their insistence on their right to march through Jewish areas in 1930′s London. Street fights ensued. Rights versus responsibilities.

    • dave says:


      1. What was 1 block away from the 9/11 ground Zero site has become 2 blocks, and now 2 and a half blocks – seems to be increasing all the time –

      Point is: 2 blocks or 3, is a very short walk, and is within easy view from some the site. 10 blocks puts it out of view and away from visual field of visitors.

      2. The total number of victims was 2997, for all three attack sites on 9-11. As far as I undersantd it, the Ground Zero commemorative anniverseries include ALL 2997 victims, and not merely the New York ones. .

    • RRB1412 says:

      dave- Rights protected by the US Constitution are not limited by the emotions or sensibilities of others. For instance, in the US a protester may burn a US flag in public as an act of political speech, which is protected by the US Constitution despite the fact it will offend most who see it. Rights do have responsibilities, but those responsibilities (not defined in the Constitution) have been gradually articulated over the years, and are objective rather than subjective. The standard example- you can’t yell FIRE! in a crowded theatre- is a case in point. Given that Obama has sworn to “preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution, how could he not defend the rights of the supporters of the mosque/community center? They have exactly the same rights that you have; yours are no more extensive than theirs.

      Several thoughts-
      1. The US Constitution does not apply in Auschwitz, Jerusalem or London.
      2. The Dome of the Rock was built over the spot where Mohammed supposedly ascended into heaven.
      3. If you stand at the northeast corner of the WTC site, looking north, Trinity Place (north/south) will be on you right, and Vesey Street (east/west) will be in front of you. Cross Vesey Street; Trinity Place seems to continue north, but actually it becomes Church Street. After crossing Vesey, walk two blocks north on Church Street. Then turn left onto Park Place, and walk 1/2 block westbound. Stop at that point, and look across Park Place (to the north side) and you’ll see the proposed site. It cannot be seen from Ground Zero because there are far taller buildings between the two sites.

    • dave says:


      I note that Obama has repeatedly refused to answer the question concerning whether it was wise to propose such a project at that location. I think his silence on the wisdom of this act speaks more volubly than all the legal rights involved.

      Laws are not immutable and are as most things in a state of evolution Also, victim impact statements do have an impact on the sentencing outcome. Similarly, I think it possible that were a legal appeal to made challenging this project, it could very well succeed after taking into account the unnecessay further suffering that the families might suffer. Victims have a right not to be further hurt. People count more than concrete. I hope. Just a thought.

    • dave says:


      A thought: Ground Zero is where the souls of 2752 vicims of the 2 attacks supposedly ascended to heaven. The smoke and ashes of their bodies spread from that site to areas that were well beyond a mere 3 blocks away from the epicentre of the attacks. The whole site – not merely the epicentre – and its surrounds are hallowed ground to many of the families of the victims. Exactly the same as for Moslems, the whole area surrounding the original spot from which the alleged ascension is believed to have taken place is regarded as holy, even the original Jewish Temple Mount and other adjoining areas.

    • dave says:


      I could kick myself for not seeing that your argument re the Constitution is in fact totally false. I had been hung up solely on the sensibilities argument, and failed to see the fatal flaw in your Constitution defence. This is as follows:

      You say that “Given that Obama has sworn to “preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution, how could he not defend the rights of the supporters of the mosque/community center?” You then go on describe those who have objected as acting against the Constitution.

      So, why is it when Obama and most of America objected to the Koran burning – they didn’t get criticised for wanting to act unconstitutionally, as Koran burning as far as I understand it is not unconstitutional.

      Consequently, I now realise that you yourself pick and choose when you want to use the Constitution for your argument. Iif this isn’t a clear example of double standards and selective use of the American Constitution then I don’t know what is.

      Accordingly, the whole basis for your argument simply crumbles, unless you now want to deny Terry Jones the protection of the Constitution? Surely all citizens – Muslims, nutty sects, neo Nazis, illiterate Bible thumping and shtumping preachers with 20 partners, whoever – have equal rights under the Constitution

    • RRB1412 says:

      dave- If you’re attempting to be deliberately obtuse, you’re succeeding. Try re-reading all my posts again. If you do, you’ll find that in my original post (#6) I said: “But Mr. Jones has the right to burn Qurans, even if many find it offensive….”

      Despite your claim to the contrary, I never described those who objected “as acting against the Constitution.”

      Voicing objections to the burning of Qurans is not an unconstitutional act; it is speech protected by the First Amendment, just as Mr. Jones’ proposed burning of Qurans would have been speech protected by the First Amendment.

      Your argument is based on a misreading of my prior comments. If you want to try again, feel free. But if you do, please tell me where in the US Constitution it says that rights protected by the Constitution are limited by the emotions, feelings or sensibilities of others.

    • dave says:

      You are correct. You never descibed those objectors to the mosque as acting aginst the constitution. My aplogoy.

      Rather, it was all those, Obama included, who objected loudly and repeatedly to Jones’ costitutional right to burn Korans (because it would be offensive to Muslims, and would lead to violence against Americans) and who in their public beseeching of him not to do so were completely disregarding his right to do so, whilst in the same breath they were saying that the Imam had a constitutional right to build his mosque wherever he wished to, and this means he would have the right to build it right adjacent or opposite to the site if he was able to acquire the land. It is this double standard that I am referring to, which to be fair you did not support. But at the same time the vaat majority of Americans are applying these same double standards. The Jones and the Imam are being treated very differently, the former to save lives, the latter to disregard sensitivies.

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