February 28, 2006, - 4:37 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
Pope Benedict XVI has been notable in his recognition and criticism of contemporary Islam for the violence and intolerance that has dominated it. For that alone, aside from his position as a leader of the Christian faith, he has my utmost respect.
Now, however, the Pope has made a mistake. He’s invited Imam Hassan Qazwini, leader of the Islamic Center of America (of Dearborn, Michigan), to the Vatican to meet with him on Wednesday and then spend four days meeting with Catholic leaders.
But, even though he heads the largest mosque in North America, Qazwini is exactly the kind of man who should NOT be invited anywhere near such a holy man or a holy place. In 1998, I went undercover to Mr. Qazwini’s mosque, when he invited Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to speak at a memorial service. I wrote about this experience in The Detroit News. It was one of the two most frightening Islamic events which I’ve attended (and I’ve gone to many in disguise over the years).
I learned that day what my grandparents must have experienced in Nazi Europe just before they were rounded up for years in concentration camps. I watched as Qazwini cheered Farrakhan on when he called for a violent jihad on America, when he called for the destruction of America’s Jews. I shuddered as I watched Qazwini cheer on Farrakhan’s attacks on Jews as “evil” and “forces of Satan.” The introduction of Farrakhan as “our dear brother, a freedom fighter” to Qazwini’s enthusiastic applause, was equally disturbing.
I’ve written about Qazwini and his mosque in the Wall Street Journal. Rolling Stone interviewed and quoted me for a piece on Qazwini after 9/11. In the piece, Qazwini’s congregants forwarded conspiracy theories about “Zionists,” the media, and 9/11. Qazwini’s mosque has been host to celebrations of Hezbollah and a multitude of anti-Semitic speeches.
Pope Benedict, you should be shunning Imam Qazwini, NOT welcoming him. It’s a sad week at the Vatican.
Tags: America, Dearborn, Debbie Schlussel, Europe, Governor, Hizballah, Imam Hassan Qazwini, Islamic Center of America, leader, Louis Farrakhan, Michigan, North America, the Detroit News, the Wall Street Journal, Wall Street Journal