One of the under-reported aspects of the ongoing controversy surrounding the proposed Ground Zero mosque is the pointed criticism the project has drawn from Muslims outside the United States.
Abdul Rahman Al-Rashid, general manager of Al-Arabiya television, has been among the most vocal critics, casting the mosque fight as "the wrong battle" and saying there's no evidence to indicate it's an issue Muslims around the world are invested in emotionally.
Muslim intellectuals and elites "all preferred to remain silent" rather than criticize the plan or assess what Al-Rashid calls "the damage caused to Islam, at the hands of Muslims in New York."
Proponents filled that void by falsely arguing "that Muslims worldwide would be furious if the mosque was built elsewhere, which is certainly not true," he wrote.
In contrast, Al-Rashid pointed to the strong condemnation American political and social leaders issued against the Florida pastor who planned to burn copies of the Quran on September 11. The response "clearly defended the feelings of Muslims," something Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and supporters of his proposed mosque have been unable to reciprocate:
"There should be one ethical position concerning both the humiliation of Muslims by burning copies of their holy book and the humiliation of the Americans with the construction of a mosque near the site of the crime committed by Muslims against others."
Rauf's claim that relocating the mosque could trigger violent reactions around the world "is not true," Al-Rashid wrote. "Whether the mosque was built in Manhattan, Brooklyn or elsewhere in New York, Muslims would not be irritated, rather they would be pleased. The funny thing is that the Imam said that his project - which would cost 100 million US dollars and has already caused great unrest in the U.S. - aims to enhance understanding and dialogue between Muslims and other faiths. Is this a joke?"