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August 24, 2010

State Department's Latest Great Idea: Let's Send Daisy Khan to the Middle East for a 'Public Diplomacy' Tour at Taxpayer Expense

Topics: Political News and commentaries, Understanding Islam

First it was Ground Zero Mosque imam Feisal Abdul Rauf that our State Department gave $16,000 worth of taxpayer money to tour the Middle East on a "public diplomacy" tour, supposedly not to raise money for his mosque (yeah, right!). Now, as though that didn't raise enough hackles from American taxpayers, our State Department has another great idea - spend $12,000 more for his wife to join him on his taxpayer-funded "public diplomacy tour" to the "marble halls of Abu Dhabi and Dubai"

Claudia Rosett: Cashing In On Ground Zero;: A test of tolerance, or a grating exercise in self-promotion?:

Among the prime planners of a $100 million Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero, it's not just Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf who is visiting the Middle East this summer at U.S. taxpayer expense. The State Department is also about to send Rauf's wife and Cordoba Initiative fellow director, Daisy Khan, on her own taxpayer-funded "public diplomacy" trip to the United Arab Emirates. Khan is scheduled to visit the UAE from Aug. 29 to Sept. 2, overlapping there with Rauf, for whom it will be the final leg of a three-country trip including Bahrain and Qatar.

The U.S. Embassy in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi has posted on its website an announcement of the impending visit by this husband-wife team. Rauf and Khan will be there, the announcement says, "to engage foreign audiences and build people-to-people ties" and to "discuss their experiences as Muslims living and working in the United States."

What might their discussions entail? Rauf, since his Cordoba Initiative's Ground Zero mosque project triggered a national uproar, has spent the summer as an enigma. Before embarking on his State-sponsored tour, he walled himself off for weeks in Malaysia, where he has longstanding ties and keeps an office. His Cordoba website now features a note that Rauf could not be available (apparently not even by phone) to explain himself to the people of New York because "he travels the world in his life-long endeavor to bring the message of moderation, peace and understanding to both Western and Islamic countries."

In Rauf's absence, Daisy Khan has been speaking prolifically from New York about the Cordoba House mega-mosque project (which the developer recently re-dubbed Park 51, and the Cordoba House is now describing as a "community center"). Her message, like the name of the project, has been morphing at speed. When Rauf and Khan won approval for their 15-story mosque-topped Cordoba House from a Manhattan community board this spring, they advertised their project as all about doing their part for harmony and healing near the site of the Sept. 11 attacks.

When it turned out that a majority of New Yorkers, and Americans generally, think this project is more like rubbing salt in a wound, Khan shifted focus. She's now talking about the Cordoba project as a test of American religious tolerance. If a majority of Americans--cognizant that the Sept. 11 attacks were carried out by Muslims, in the name of Islam--think it's inappropriate to stage that test near the edge of Ground Zero, Khan's retort is that they must be bigots. In an interview last week with the Washington Post's Sally Quinn, she lamented: "When will Muslims be accepted as plain old Americans?"

On Sunday, interviewed on ABC TV's This Week by Christiane Amanpour, Khan ratcheted up her complaints. Amanpour asked, "Is America Islamophobic?"

Khan replied, "It's not even Islamophobia, it's beyond Islamophobia. It's hate of Muslims."

For the State Department to spend thousands of taxpayer dollars sending someone with those views on a "public diplomacy" trip to the Middle East is a curious exercise. Rauf's trip is costing $16,000. Khan's will cost $12,000. If Khan will be collecting the same $496 per diem that Rauf will be getting in Abu Dhabi, this will include a joint $982 per day for creature comforts, as Khan spreads her opinions about Muslim life in America-and builds people-to-people ties in an Islamic state loaded with billions in oil wealth. State has told Rauf and Khan to refrain from conducting "personal business" while rubbing shoulders on the taxpayer dime, but how they follow up on any of those ties is presumably up to them.

Take the time to read it all ...

It's jaw-dropping, mind boggling, acts like this that make one wonder it anyone at our State Department has one iota of common sense.

Related: GZ Imam: US Worse Than Al Qaeda, Killed Half-Million Iraqi Children

Posted by Richard at August 24, 2010 2:34 PM

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