Muslims around world monitor mosque debate

August 19, 2010

By Ashish Kumar Sen-The Washington Times

Muslims around the world see the ground zero mosque debate raging in the U.S. as a litmus test of American tolerance, and generally appreciate President Obama‘s involvement.

In Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population, Mr. Obama has won praise from commentators for his support for Muslims’ right to build a place of worship where they like.

Endy M. Bayuni, a former editor-in-chief of the Jakarta Post, even jokingly suggested trading Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for Mr. Obama, who spent part of his childhood in Indonesia.

Obama could have refrained from making any statement, directly or indirectly, to the mosque controversy and help his Democrat congressmen face the November election. But he did what any decent democratically elected leader and statesman would do, which is to uphold the Constitution and defend the right of minority Muslims,” Mr. Bayuni wrote.

Yet not all Muslims think the Islamic center should be built near ground zero.

Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed, general manager of Al-Arabiya television, wrote in the Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that Mr. Obama adopted “an unnecessary and unimportant stance, even as far as Muslims are concerned,” by supporting the construction of the center.

“The mosque is not an issue for Muslims, and they are not bothered by its construction,” Mr. Al-Rashed said. “Muslims do not aspire for a mosque next to the 11 September cemetery.”

In the U.S., the issue continues to leave politicians twisting, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat.

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