Following is a TV debate on the planned Islamic center near Ground Zero, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on August 24, 2010:
California State University professor As'ad Abu Khalil: It must be acknowledged that there is an ideology of hatred, which is no different than other ideologies of hatred, such as the Nazi hostility toward the Jews. I am referring to the hatred of Islam in this country.
This goes beyond the embracing of this hostility by the reactionary right. It gnaws at the very bones of political and popular culture in this country. We should add that there are liberal voices, such as Howard Dean, one of the most liberal leaders in the Democratic Party, who opposed the right of the Muslims to build the [Cordoba] Center.
I think that there are several factors, regardless of the Islamic center. I believe that Imam Abdul Rauf bears the responsibility for this stupid idea, which increased the official and public hostility towards Islam.
But Barack Obama bears responsibility as well, because before coming into office, he distanced himself from defending the right of Muslim men and women to live as equals in this country. He distanced himself from this issue completely.
Usama Abu Irshaid, Editor of US-based Al-Meezan newspaper: These are some of the problems that we are facing in America, and Islam has become the fuel of this campaign for some of these demagogues. I'm referring to Satans like [Newt] Gingrich, regarding incitement against Islam.
Let's be frank – Obama has failed miserably. Obama speaks a lot, and his discourse is positive, but when it comes to politics Obama is the same candidate whose campaign staff removed two hijab-clad women from the frame, during his elections campaign.
It was Obama who invited Muslim homosexuals to Iftar last year, but did not invite the real leaders of the Muslim community. Who attended this year's Iftar? Many Muslim leaders did not attend. There is an effort to reshape the perception of Islam throughout the US.
One final thing, Muhammad. I am not afraid of the issue of the Islamic Center, whether or not it is built. What I fear most is that the pressure exerted on us, as a Muslim community, will make us change many of our principles.
Only a few weeks ago, some Muslim community representatives – considered "leaders" merely because they are welcome at the White House – visited Poland and went to one of the Holocaust sites there. Now they talk about the Holocaust and what happened in the 1930's and 1940's, but we don't hear them talk about what happened in Gaza.