From today’s Independent . . .
While the controversy over plans to build an Islamic center and mosque just two blocks away from Ground Zero continues, other plans have come to light for a monument to shahids or fedayeen – i.e., suicide bombers and ‘martyrs’ – on the very site of their most dastardly act: the World Trade Center.
The Allahu Akbar Foundation wants to erect the memorial – comprising three figures: Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta, together with an “unknown martyr” (with wires hanging out of his clothing and his thumb on a switch) – at the entrance to 1 World Trade Center (due for completion in 2013).
The artist: Fuqn-Youslus, in her Gaza City home
The figures, made from scrap metal garnered from the twisted wreckage of Israeli buses, took the celebrated Palestinian artist, Miwurqs Fuqn-Youslus, over two days to complete.
“It would have taken even less,” said Fuqn-Youslus from her home (or, at least, what’s left of it) in Gaza City, “but there is a shortage of decent quality niqabs (head coverings) in the shuk as a result of the Israeli blockade. My current one is not a good fit, and the slit keeps riding over my eyes while I work! Oh yes, and there is also the matter of my one arm . . .” (Hamas officials amputated Fuqn-Youslus’s right arm at the elbow after she refused her husband sex without good cause).
The initial reaction of New Yorkers, however, to the latest plans – including of families of victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks – has been far from enthusiastic.
“Why don’t they just spit on the graves of the three thousand people who were murdered here?” said the father of one such victim, a New York firefighter.
The founder of The Allahu Akbar Foundation, however, Aamer Zileeh-Qunt, can’t see what all the fuss is about.
“We are hearing a lot of propaganda and lies against Muslims – this monument commemorates good men and is not disrespectful in any way,” said Mr. Zileeh-Qunt from his hideout in a remote region of Pakistan. “And it is not just a memorial to martyrs, but also to those who wanted to be but, for example, were too thick to pass the flying course or who, like my brother Abu Hamza in Belmarsh (prison), could not follow the simple instructions in their jihadi bomb-making manuals.”
Various American Reform rabbis have given their support to the planned monument, as has the Jewish lobbying group J Street.
And the reaction in Britain has also been supportive, with Member of Parliament Gerald Kaufman going so far as to claim that opposition to the memorial constitutes an insult to the memory of his late grandmother.
“As a Jew,” declared Mr. Kaufman from outside his Regent’s Park home (that of the dodgy expenses claim), “I am ashamed that some of my coreligionists are behind this ignoble attempt to derail what is, after all, an entirely innocent monument. My grandmother, who was murdered by the Nazis, died in vain if Manhattanites will not allow this perfectly respectable memorial.”
Gorgeous Bhoy: George Galloway ex-MP
Speaking from his bench outside Kings Cross Station, George Galloway, also once a Member of Parliament, claimed that “the tentacles of Zionism are behind this outrageous opposition. It is a lovely work, and my auld mate Saddam, zichrono livrocha, would have been all for it!”
Meanwhile, artsy UK human rights activists Ken Loach, Alexei Sayle and Annie Lennox, together with career Jew-baiter Ken Livingstone, have organised a rally in support of the proposed monument – and to protest against what they have labelled “an undemocratic, Islamophobic provocation” by its opponents – in Hyde Park, this Sunday.
Following the death of the regular speaker at such rallies, playwright Harold Pinter, the organisers are flying in Hollywood film director Oliver Stone, whose recent remarks, they say, make him the natural heir to Pinter’s rally stage.
American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist and political activist, Noam Chomsky, will also traverse the Atlantic specially for the rally.
“My Jewishness,” said Professor Chomsky from his office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “together with the fact that no one is bright enough to understand a word of what I am on about, makes my opinion on US government policy vis-à-vis Zionism, the Palestinians and Islam practically unimpeachable.”
The reaction of the Islamic world, too, to opposition to the planned monument has been one of anger. Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, between dodging “stray firecrackers”, proclaimed that “the Zionists’ days are numbered”.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was unavailable for comment, but a government spokesman in Ankara, Aylyket Ubdibüm, said that Mr. Erdoğan would “go along with the Iranian response . . . whatever that may be.”
And, emerging from his Beirut bunker in a cunning “bandit” disguise, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah – who denied recent media reports that he and a certain extremist rabbi residing in Stamford Hill may be distant cousins – again threatened Tel Aviv.
“We have missiles capable even of reaching melchett mike,” declared Nasrallah. “This Zionist piss-taker should enjoy his four dogs while Allah allows him.”
Cunning disguise: Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, on a Beirut street