60 Minutes did a piece on the “Ground Zero Mosque” (Park 51/Cordoba Center). Scott Pelley interviewed the key players in the Islamic Center debate:
- Sharif El-Gamal, the Cordoba House developer.
- Pam Geller, one of the most vocal opponents of the Islamic Community Center.
- Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the head leader of the Islamic Center.
Below is the segment along with parts of the transcript. Let our readers from around the world know what you think.
PELLEY: It took us another two minutes to walk to the edge of what the government officially designates as Ground Zero. But what do you say to those people who say that it is painful for them to have the idea of a mosque, even though it is two and a half blocks away?
EL-GAMAL: I was affected by the horrific events that happened that day, as well. And I do not hold myself or my faith accountable for what happened during that horrific day.
PELLEY: Of course, the national argument isn’t about measuring the length of two city blocks; it’s about the distance between perceptions. If you believe Islam is a moral religion hijacked by terrorists, proximity doesn’t matter. If you believe Islam condones 9/11, this is too close.
I think this is the low point of the show. Scott Pelley’s interview with Pam Geller comes across as if he is deliberately trying to provoke her to anger. Pelley comes across as gleeful when he succeeds.
I was glad that Scott Pelley asked, what I believe, is one of the most important questions that pertains to sensitivity.
PELLEY: I wonder if you understand why many families who lost a loved one on 9/11 are hurt by this?
RAUF: I’m extremely sensitive to the feelings of the families of 9/11.
PELLEY: Then why did you do it?
RAUF: Because we wanted to prevent another 9/11. We wanted to – we wanted a platform that would enable us to speak, to strengthen the voice of the moderates.
PELLEY: If you are so deeply concerned about the danger in America and the danger abroad, why not just move it out of the neighborhood?
RAUF: Because it’s the right thing to do. It’s the right thing to do. Our community wants it, and now, America needs it and the Muslim world needs it. Because-
PELLEY: What do you mean, America needs it?
RAUF: I’ll tell you why Scott. We have to wage peace. The military campaign against the radical extremists from my faith community is a military campaign. The campaign for winning hearts and minds is an important part of that campaign – we know how to do it and we’re committed to doing it. We’re ready, willing, and able to serve our country and to serve our faith tradition.
PELLEY: And to that widow or that child who lost a parent, who is a perfectly reasonable person and believes that this is wrong, you say what?
RAUF: First, we say we have condemned 9/11. I pray for the souls of your loved lost ones. If 9/11 happens there again, I want to be the first to die. Muslims want to stand right there to say that we are here. It’s my duty as an American Muslim to stand between you, the American non-Muslim, and the radicals who are trying to attack you.
PELLEY: Imam Feisal told us he’ll have a board of directors for the center made up of Muslims, Christians and Jews, and he’ll ask the U.S. government to approve sources of funding.
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