The director of Al-Arabiya TV, a popular Arab-language news station, wrote that "Muslims never asked for" the proposed mosque at Ground Zero, and "do not care about its construction," in a column for London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat on Aug. 16.
“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,” wrote Al-Arabiya director Abd Al-Rahman al-Rashid in the column, which was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute. “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?”
Al-Rashid said that President Barack Obama’s support of the mosque was similar to the administration’s previous decision to close Guantanamo Bay and try suspected terrorists as civilians. “"Muslims do not [really] yearn [to build] a mosque near the 9/11 cemetery, nor do they care whether bin Laden's cook is tried in a civilian court [or a military one],” said al-Rashid, noting that “tens of thousands of Muslims, likewise accused of extremism, are imprisoned in [even] worse conditions in the Muslim countries.”
According to the director, Muslims care about issues that impact “the destinies of [entire] peoples,” such as the creation of a Palestinian state.
“The last thing Muslims want today is to build a religious center that provokes others, or a symbolic mosque that people will visit as a [kind of] museum next to a cemetery,” said al-Rashid.
Al-Arabiya TV is based out of the United Arab Emirates, and is a direct competitor with Al-Jazeera, another Arab-language news station. Al-Arabiya “is consistently rated among the top pan-Arab stations by Middle East audiences,” reported BBC News in 2003.
According to Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, al-Rashid’s column “should mean the end of plans for a mosque near Ground Zero.”
“Mr. Al-Rashid supports President Obama’s stand for the mosque in principle (as he supports Obama-like or even beyond-Obama-like policies with respect to the Middle East). He’s no neocon. But his practical case against building the mosque is irrefutable,” wrote Kristol on the Weekly Standard website on Aug. 17. “It should lead well-meaning liberals to join with us dastardly conservatives (well, it would be too painful for them to join with us—they can simply act in parallel, on their own, while continuing to denounce us) in calling for the organizers to shelve the plans for a mosque at this site.”