Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Kuwait-born imam at the center of the Burlington Coat Factory Community Center controversy, landed in Bahrain Thursday to begin a short tour of Persian Gulf countries.
He's on a trip funded by the State Department, whose ostensible purpose is to educate Muslims abroad about how great it is to be a Muslim in the United States of America. He's even written a book about the subject, titled What's Right With Islam, which the State Department has distributed in the past (one edition is called What's Right With Islam Is What's Right With America).
In other words ... the cleric's mission is to tell Middle Easterners how the United States is a bastion of tolerance, even as he's subject to an increasingly vicious campaign back home -- when he's not being compared to Nazis, he's being called a terrorist sympathizer, or worse. This is a guy who stood before a synagogue audience in 2003 and declared, "I am a Jew." Gotta love the irony.
UPDATE: I got a call earlier this afternoon from a representative of the Burlington Coat Factory, who politely asked me to change the title of this post and the reference to the company, since it no longer owned the site where the Cordoba Initiative is planning to build its community center. I declined, explaining that I was making a joke (one that has been widely shared on the Internets). She then told me that the Associated Press had issued guidelines to its reporters telling them to refer to it as an "NYC mosque." I told her I don't work for the AP.
Anyway, Jon Stewart, as usual, says it best:
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