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The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground. —THOMAS JEFFERSON, 1788

‘Ground Zero’ mosque imam sued for stealing donations to live large

You can keep your 70 virgins. They just don’t cut it in the material world of the here-and-now where pricy vacations are to be had, sumptuous meals to be eaten, opulent houses bought, fast cars driven.

That’s the message one might reasonably take away from the newly publicized actions of Feisel Abdul Rauf, the one-time imam of the controversial “Ground Zero” mosque. The outwardly pious cleric, who once asked “Can’t we all just get along?” is being sued for embezzlement, according to the Daily News.

Papers filed today in Manhattan Supreme Court accuse Rauf of diverting $3 million from the Malaysian government and another $167,000 from private donations toward bankrolling his own lavish lifestyle.

The money — intended to fund The Shariah Index Project — was used by Rauf and his wife Daisy to buy real estate, lavish trips and vacations, entertainment and a luxury sports car, the suit charged.

The plans for mosque cum cultural center created an uproar in 2010 when, of all the available real estate sites in New York City’s 300-mile area, the only one that Rauf found suitable was an abandoned coat factory on Park Place in downtown Manhattan. The building, which stood in the shadows of the World Trade Center before it was razed by terrorists acting in the name of Islam, was so close to the Ground Zero that it was actually struck with a piece of the fuselage of the one of the planes.

Yet, complaints from families who lost loved ones in the attack fell on deaf ears. Rauf was adamant that building the mosque on that spot was a teachable moment for people of all persuasions. He continued to preach that gospel right up until he ousted as the planned leader of the center in January 2011. And all the while he was robbing them blind. Maybe there’s a teachable moment in all of this after all.

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Howard Portnoy has written for HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, and The George Espenlaub Show.

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