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By Barry Rubin

I’ve pointed out months ago my view of the “Ground Zero” mosque controversy that I thought it was more of a con job than an Islamist offensive. The developer and the imam seemed to be shady people who were trying to promote their careers and seemed to believe they were going to collect a lot of Saudi money.

I also predicted that the mosque/community center tower would never be built. Now, one of the project’s backers has launched a law suit full of detailed allegations, including a claim that the imam spent $3 million of the money raised on a good time for himself. I don’t know if these claims are true but presumably a lot more will come out in the law suit about the story behind this controversial project.

Ironically, the mosque/community center project generated too much publicity, after being rushed through a city council willing to do anything to prove it wasn’t Islamophobic, including observe the city’s own regulations and procedures. This brought criticism and public attention.

In other words, this wasn’t really an issue of religious freedom versus bigotry or a choice between “Islamophobia” and jihad but a cautionary lesson about how the fear of seeming to be a “racist” or “Islamophobe” can be manipulated to fool people into forgetting law and logic.

If the whole issue would have been kept quiet, the likely outcome wouldn’t have been jihad next to the World Trade Center ruins but the enrichment of those involved. At any rate, let’s see what evidence is provided in the court case.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest book, Israel: An Introduction, has just been published by Yale University Press. Other recent books include The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center and of his blog, Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.

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