Arab TV Director: ‘Muslim Anger’ Over Ground Zero Mosque Protests is ‘Fabricated’

The director of the popular Arab-language TV station Al Arabiya says that the Muslim world is not angry over increasing American opposition to a proposed mosque at Ground Zero, and that any claims to the contrary are attempts to "fabricate a conflict."

"The lack of a unified stance throughout the Islamic world should be seen as response to the current attempt by some to 'fabricate' a conflict, claiming that Muslims are angry with the refusal to build a mosque in such a controversial setting," wrote director Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashid in an Aug. 29 column in a London daily. The column was translated and posted on the website for the Middle East Media Research Institute.

Some news outlets have claimed that opposition to the Ground Zero mosque may "fuel Islamic extremism" in the Muslim world.

"Opposition to the center by prominent politicians and other public figures in the United States has been covered extensively by the news media in Muslim countries," reported a New York Times article on Aug. 20. "At a time of concern about radicalization of young Muslims in the West, it risks adding new fuel to Al Qaeda's claim that Islam is under attack by the West and must be defended with violence, some specialists on Islamic militancy say."

And the NPR reported on Aug. 24 that "Experts worry the controversy surrounding an Islamic center near ground zero in Lower Manhattan is playing right into the hands of radical extremists."

But the director of Al-Arabiya TV - a competitor of Al Jazeera - said that the idea that the mosque controversy is inflaming anger across Muslim countries is nonsense.

Director Al-Rashid argued that opposition to the Ground Zero mosque has not caused "a public reaction similar to what has been witnessed in dozens of previous cases that have provoked Muslims" - such as the 2006 publication of a cartoon mocking the Islamic prophet in a Danish newspaper, which set off violent protests across the Muslim world.

The TV director noted that there have not been demonstrations related to the mosque in Arab countries, that imams have not addressed the controversy during their sermons and that the issue has not been taken up by Islamic religious and intellectual institutions.

He also said that many Muslims don't want the mosque to be built, and understand why the project may be insensitive.

"[F]or many Muslims, building a mosque near the same land upon which three thousand people were killed by Muslims is not a necessity. Most comments from readers rejected the idea of building the mosque for fear of it turning into a symbol of hatred against Muslims," wrote Al-Rashid.

And while the TV director said that the organizers of the mosque have "good intentions," he also added that they have acted "without taking into account the serious nature of [constructing] a mosque at such a particularly sensitive time and place."

This is not the first time Al-Rashid has spoken out over the Ground Zero mosque controversy. On Aug. 16 he wrote in another column that "Muslims never asked for" the proposed mosque at Ground Zero, and "do not care about its construction."

"I 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," he wrote. "Moreover, there are no practicing Muslims in the area who need a place to worship, because it is a commercial district. Is there anyone who is [really] eager [to build] this mosque?"