Fareed Zakaria Returns Anti-Defamation League Award Over Ground Zero Mosque (VIDEO)

08/06/2010 07:41 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Danny Shea Editorial Director, The Huffington Post

Update: Zakaria addresses the issue at the top of on his CNN show Sunday.

Zakaria says that the man behind the proposed Ground Zero Islamic community center, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, "has spent years trying to offer a liberal interpretation of Islam" and "argues that America is actually what an ideal Islamic society would look like because is it peaceful, tolerant and pluralistic.

"His vision for Islam, in other words, is Osama Bin Laden's nightmare," Zakaria says.

Zakaria also speaks directly to the Anti-Defamation League:

I have to say I was personally and deeply saddened by the ADL's stand because five years ago, the organization honored me with its Hubert Humphrey Award for First Amendment Freedoms. Given the position that they have taken on a core issue of religious freedom in America, I cannot in good conscience keep that award.

So, this week, I am going to return to the ADL, the handsome medal and the generous honorarium that came with it. I hope this might spur them to see that they have made a mistake and to return to their historic robust defense of freedom of religion in America, something they have subscribed to for decades and which I honor them for.


WATCH:

Original Post: Newsweek writer and CNN host Fareed Zakaria has returned an award he received in 2005 from the Anti-Defamation League over the Jewish group's opposition towards the Ground Zero mosque.

"Five years ago, the ADL honored me with its Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize," Zakaria writes in next week's Newsweek. "I was thrilled to get the award from an organization that I had long admired. But I cannot in good conscience keep it anymore. I have returned both the handsome plaque and the $10,000 honorarium that came with it. I urge the ADL to reverse its decision. Admitting an error is a small price to pay to regain a reputation."

In the column, Zakaria argues in favor of building the Ground Zero mosque, writing:

If there is going to be a reformist movement in Islam, it is going to emerge from places like the proposed institute. We should be encouraging groups like the one behind this project, not demonizing them. Were this mosque being built in a foreign city, chances are that the U.S. government would be funding it.

"I am not only saddened but stunned and somewhat speechless by your decision to return the ADL Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize, you accepted in 2005," ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said in a letter to Zakaria. "As someone I greatly respect for engaging in discussion and dialogue with an open mind I would have expected you to reach out to me before coming to judgment."

Foxman added that the League "did not oppose the right for an Islamic Center or a mosque to be built" but rather "[made] an appeal based solely on the issues of location and sensitivity."

Zakaria described the ADL's decision to oppose the mosque as "bizarre" and asks:

Does Foxman believe that bigotry is OK if people think they're victims? Does the anguish of Palestinians, then, entitle them to be anti-Semitic?

Zakaria is also expected to address the issue on his CNN broadcast Sunday.

The ADL came out against the Ground Zero mosque last week:

Proponents of the Islamic Center may have every right to build at this site, and may even have chosen the site to send a positive message about Islam. The bigotry some have expressed in attacking them is unfair, and wrong. But ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain - unnecessarily - and that is not right.

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