The Curious Incuriousness of the Denver Post

This morning, in a series leading up to the 10th Anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the Denver Post begins a series on Muslims in America, with an article profiling some prominent members of the Denver Muslim community. Yours truly makes a cameo appearance, in the profile discussing a well-publicized 2008 primary race for the State House.

Rima Barakat-Sinclair's offenses against civility and the truth extend far beyond what was noted in the article, and include denying on air that the Hamas Charter called for the destruction of Israel, and the claim in a Jordanian newspaper interview that American support for Israel is a result of Jews like Rupert Murdoch (sic) investing in the media.

More recently, she claimed in a Syrian newspaper interview that Syria's troubles were the result of a neo-con plot to destroy the Arab world in order to make the neighborhood safe for Israel. There's a reason she lost that primary 71-29, and it's because I wasn't the only one to take notice of her history.

But it was the first profile that really caught my attention. It's of one Imam Ibrahim Kazerooni, a local Iraqi Shiite imam, who emigrated from Iraq to Iran to study in madrassah, thence to London, and finally to Denver. The article focuses on his interfaith, ecumenical efforts. It ignores a more sinister side of the Imam, one that emerges when he his talking to Muslim audiences.

While in London, Kazerooni delivered a religious address celebrating the anniversary of the Iranian Revolution. Yes, the one in 1979. At such speeches, it's not unusual to, essentially, deliver an address previously given by a highly-regarded religious leader. Kazerooni chose to do so, and the speech he chose was by a Mullah named Mezbah Yazdi. Mezbah Yazdi is the spiritual advisor to one Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.

That Kazerooni was chosen to give a talk of this nature says something about the status he acquired in London's Shiite community during his stay there. That he chose to relay the words of someone like Mezbah Yazdi says something about his beliefs and opinions. You can download and listen to the entire talk here.

More recently, Kazerooni gave a talk at a Dearborn, Michigan religious center, where he encouraged Muslims to "infiltrate" (his word, not mine) the academy, in order to prevent the Koran getting the same rough treatment that the Bible has at the hands of academics. After the obligatory blessings, he began the talk with the following:

Permit me to begin, with a celebratory note.  It is rare - this is primarily offered to our Lebanese friends in particular here, and through them to the entire Lebanese population, also to other friends - it is very rare in these days that one feels to elated, that sees the new dawn, the possible new dawn, of a new political system in Lebanon.  I pray that soon we will congratulate each other on multiple successes that come out of that part of the world.  This is - after many obstalces that were put in this process - the harder they tried, the more they failed.

As this talk was just after the introduction of the Hezbollah Virus into the actual government of Lebanon, and his words leave little room for doubt as to where he stands on that particular development.  The video has been taken down since I first found it, but I've uploaded the first part of it here (Kazerooni begins to talk around 7:50).

This is not guilt by association - always dangerous when one is dealing with a relatively small community.  These are the words of the actors themselves, when they thought nobody outside was listening.  And with the exception of the Dearborn video, they're not particularly difficult to find.

That the Denver Post chose either not to research, not to find, or not to print, is unfortunately, all too typical of the media's coverage of Islam.  If the paper is really interested in promoting a debate on Muslims' role in American society, they do neither the vast majority Muslims of goodwill, nor American society, nor that debate, any service by failing to do their homework.

UPDATE: The video appears snakebit.  It's in working order, but it's taking too long to upload to the server, so I'll have to take care of that this evening when I get home.