Rep. Peter King: Islamic Center Imam ‘Blackmailing and Threatening’ US
September 12, 2010
(ChattahBox Political News)—Right-wing Republicans say the darndest things. Rep. Peter King (R-NY), known for his incendiary rhetoric, has joined Fox News and the growing chorus of conservatives smearing the Imam promoting the New York Islamic center, by taking his statements out of context, to falsely claim he is “blackmailing and threatening the United States.”
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is proposing to build an interfaith Islamic cultural center, with a swimming pool, gymnasium and an area devoted to worship. Rauf is opposed to moving the center farther away from Ground Zero, because the anti-Islam rhetoric surrounding the Park51 center has received international attention. During interviews on CNN and with ABC News’ Christiane Amanpour, Rauf pointed out that if he gave into the hysterical anti-Muslim fervor surrounding the vocal opposition to the cultural center, it would embolden the radical elements of Islam and jeopardize our national security.
“We have two audiences,” the Imam told ABC News’ Christiane Amanpour late Thursday afternoon. “We have the American audience and we have the Muslim audience. And this issue has riveted the attention of the whole Muslim world. And whatever we do, and whatever we say and how we move and the discourse about it is being watched very, very closely. And if we make the wrong move, it will only expand and strengthen the voice of the radicals and the extremists,” he said.”
To say his remarks constitute a threat or blackmail, does not square with reality. Military leaders and even former Bush officials, have made similar observations.
But Rep. King sees “blackmail” in Rauf’s simple statement of fact. King made his remarks during an appearance on the Fox Business Network.
“To me, it’s almost as if he’s blackmailing and threatening the United States that somehow if the mosque is not approved or people speak out against his mosque, you have to worry about being attacked by Islamic terrorists.”
King said that the Islamic center was being “put their to make a statement, not to build bridges, but to make a statement.”
“We don’t have to prove ourselves to anyone and certainly don’t have to measure up to some standard set by an imam who said that the U.S. was a co-conspirator of 9/11,” King said.
This kind of bigoted talk is nothing new for King. The congressman, a ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee, has called the building of an Islamic cultural center two and a half blocks from Ground Zero in an abandoned Burlington Coat Factory, “offensive.” And King has a long history of Islamophobia, according to Think Progress:
“It’s not surprising, however, that King would conflate extremism with mosques in general. In 2007, he declared, “unfortunately, we have too many mosques in this country.” He has previously claimed that Muslims are “an enemy living among us.” “[Y]ou could say that 80-85 percent of mosques in this country are controlled by Islamic fundamentalists,” he said in 2004. In 2009, he suggested that the Department of Homeland Security should target “mosques.”’
Lower Manhattan was the scene of dueling so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” demonstrations on the anniversary of the attacks of September 11. A vigil was held supporting the Park51 center and a protest was held in opposition, sponsored by such Islamophobes, as Pamela Geller.