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Saturday, October 01, 2005

The imam and the FDNY

Here’s a story that I’d have found hard to take seriously if I hadn’t got it from two reasonably credible sources (here and here).

The Fire Department of New York wants to appoint a Muslim chaplain. They thought they’d found the man for the job, and were on the point of swearing him in, when it emerged that he’d given an interview in which he’d expressed scepticism that the World Trade Center could really have been demolished by a couple of jumbo jets. “Was it 19 hijackers who brought it down, or was it a conspiracy?" inquired Imam Intiqab Habib. The sources don’t say who he thinks did the conspiring, but it’s not hard to guess.

Well, New York firefighters evidently have low tolerance for half-baked conspiracy theories about the events that cost 343 of their comrades their lives. Muslim firefighters say they had no idea that he held these views. So the FDNY is still looking for a Muslim chaplain.

What this says about the state Islam is in is pretty depressing. It’s surely no coincidence that Habib studied in Saudi Arabia, and, as Irshad Manji argues in her manifesto for an Islamic Reformation, the sooner that country’s ideological stranglehold on the faith can be broken the better.

But let’s not dwell on the negative. Contemplate for a moment, if you will, what it says about the nation the rest of the world loves to hate – and which a significant chunk of the world hates particularly because of its friendship with Israel: the Fire Department of New York is looking for a Muslim chaplain.

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