Defenders of the proposed Ground Zero mosque are quick to write off opponents as bigots simply out to stir up hatred of Muslims.
While some of the rhetoric is excessive, the blanket dismissal hides a more difficult challenge for mosque advocates: A growing number of Muslims openly oppose the project too. Some agree it's the wrong place, while others are increasingly critical of what they see as tone-deaf and clumsy leadership from mosque planners.
The most recent, and perhaps most pointed, criticism comes from Mansoor Ijaz, who negotiated Sudan's offer of counterterrorism assistance to the FBI and CIA under the Clinton administration in 1996 and 1997. In a Washington Post column Wednesday, Ijaz faulted both sides of the debate for its tenor. But he admonished Muslims to show their sensitivity toward the country's collective emotional wound from 9/11. And, he argued, they have done more to cast themselves as victims instead of joining forces to combat the radical Islamist ideology fueling terrorism:
"[The] Cordoba House is wrong because America's Muslims do not yet exemplify the time-honored commandments, philosophies and tenets of the great men and women who founded our country -- and even more sadly, of the great religion they claim to follow. A mosque is not a monument. It is a place where worshipers gather to strengthen their beliefs en masse -- a place where they resolve to practice those beliefs with consistency and vigor. An American Muslim, one who believes in his or her American identity first, could not possibly hope to do that near the place where fellow citizens were murdered by Islamic mobsters seeking vanity and infamy for their crimes."