Rupert Murdoch (L) and Prince Alwaleed bin Talal (R)Amid the howls of outrage over the proposed Islamic community center and mosque near Ground Zero, some political pundits on Fox News, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's media conglomerate News Corp. (NWS), have been particularly vocal in their opposition to the project.

Last Thursday, popular Fox News host Sean Hannity said the proposed center's leader, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, a U.S. citizen who has spent 25 years working to improve relations between the Muslim world and the U.S., wants to "shred our Constitution" and install "Sharia law as the law of the land in America." Sharia is a body of law derived from the Koran and Islamic teachings.

In fact, in his book What's Right With Islam, Rauf writes that "many Muslims regard the form of government that the American founders established a little over two centuries ago as the form of governance that best expresses Islam's original values and principles." (Page 81.) He has never publicly advocated "shredding" the U.S. Constitution or replacing it with Sharia law.

A Major Backer From the Muslim World

The stridency with which Fox News personalities attack the downtown Islamic center -- red meat for the millions who tune in each night -- is an example of the often uneasy relationship and occasionally diverging interests between many of News Corp.'s properties, in this case Fox News and its parent corporation.

Prince Alwaleed bin TalalFor example, News Corp.'s second-largest shareholder, after the Murdoch family, is Prince Alwaleed bin Talal (pictured at left, and above right), the nephew of Saudi Arabian King Abdullah, and one of the world's richest men.

Through his Kingdom Holding Co., Alwaleed owns about 7% of News Corp., or about $3 billion of the media giant. He also owns 6% of Citigroup -- to which he was introduced by the Carlyle Group -- or about $10 billion of the giant bank. He's a part-owner of the famed Plaza Hotel in New York and has invested in many other prominent companies. (At one point he invested in AOL (AOL), the parent company of DailyFinance.)

Earlier this year, News Corp. invested $70 million for a 9% stake in Alwaleed's Middle Eastern media and entertainment company, Rotana, which "owns the Arab world's largest record label and about 40% of the region's movies -- most of which are Egyptian -- and operates 11 free-to-air television channels, two of which are through a partnership with News Corp.," according to Reuters. (Rotana broadcasts Fox movies and TV shows throughout the Middle East.) News Corp. has an option to double its stake in Rotana for another $70 million within 18 months.

"We Look Forward to Working Together"

Alwaleed has announced his intention to take Rotana public within the next two years, a move that could earn News Corp. a handsome return. In News Corp.'s 2010 annual report recently filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Alwaleed is referred to only as, "A significant stockholder of the Company, who owns approximately 7% of the Company's Class B Common Stock." (Page 44.)

A News Corp. spokesman in New York declined to discuss the company's investment into Rotana and referred inquires to a colleague in London, who declined to comment. Attempts to reach Prince Alwaleed or a representative of his conglomerate, Riyadh-based Kingdom Holding Co., for comment, were not immediately returned.

But presumed News Corp. heir James Murdoch has publicly touted the company's investment in Rotana. James Murdoch, who's the chairman and CEO of News Corp.'s European and Asian operation, has said: "A stake in Rotana expands our presence in a region with a young and growing population, where [economic] growth is set to outstrip that of more developed economies in the years ahead. Rotana is a leading player in the Middle East, and we look forward to working together."

As usual with Murdoch, money trumps ideology. "News Corp. is a big company, and Murdoch makes decisions based on money and business," says Robert Thompson, a professor of TV and popular culture at Syracuse University. "This isn't a conspiracy of the right or the left. It's a conspiracy of money."

The Warren Buffett of Saudi Arabia

Routinely listed as one of the top 10 or 20 richest men in the world, Alwaleed has long cultivated deep personal and financial ties with the U.S., especially among powerful business and government officials. Just consider that in 2002, he donated $500,000 to help fund the George Herbert Walker Bush Scholarship at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. Above all, Alwaleed is a businessman and a philanthropist, not an ideologue. He has been very generous to Islamic charities and other humanitarian efforts. Alwaleed is such an influential figure that he's been referred to as the Warren Buffett of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia, which is ruled by Alwaleed's uncle King Abdullah, is, of course, an authoritarian petro-monarchy that actually is governed by Sharia law and is known as one of the top global sponsors of terrorism. A spokesperson for the Saudi embassy in Washington says that while Alwaleed is part of the royal family, he isn't a member of the government, but rather a private citizen.

Imam Feisal Abdul RaufAlwaleed, like Iman Rauf (pictured at right), professes a desire to build bridges of peace and understanding between the Islamic world and the West. One man is a multibillionaire, with far-flung investments around the world, and the other is a religious cleric, whose congregation happens to be in downtown Manhattan.

Many Fox News pundits seem to have a big problem with the idea that a foreign government or entity with ties to terrorism could help sponsor a mosque in lower Manhattan -- a legitimate concern. But as viewers listen to Fox News pundits rail against Rauf -- and question his center's funding -- they should keep in mind that Fox News is part of a company, News Corp., that has extensive business ties with the Muslim world.

It's just part of running a multinational media giant in today's global, interconnected economy, where alliances and business relationships are more nuanced than the black and white -- good and evil -- viewpoint that many Fox News pundits espouse.

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@ SegersBest, (1:35 AM Aug 18, 2010), you wrote: Unfortunately they won't tolerate a person even owning a Bible there. It might cost you your head.

Since I'm an American and lived in Saudi Arabia as an ex-pat worker for several years, Christians could take a personal bible for their personal use. When you sign a contract to work there, you are told you cannot proselytize, regardless of the faith. If you sign the contract, then you do not preach. They would not have your head, they would deport you immediately, and ship your things back to you within a certain period of time.

Saudi is not the USA. I find it disingenuous for Americans to demand other governments/countries to adhere to our standards, while at the same time, the US continues to have many issues it refuses to resolve, for example, sexism, racism, economic discrepancies, poverty, lack of quality education, and so forth. If US standards are higher, we cannot induce change to a higher UNHR standard when a person knowingly agrees to terms in a contract. It's another example of misdirected emotions overruling commonsense.

August 18 2010 at 7:28 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to tangdayi's comment

Hmm...So, tangdayi, you stated (in part) that you fnd it 'disingenuous for Americans to demand other governments/countries to adhere to our standards?' I agree! Obama should never tell Israel how many 'settlements' they are allowed to build. Obama was concerned about the 'insensitivity' it may cause to Palestinians!' Americans should show more 'sensitivity' towards a religion whose actions on 9/11 constituted a 'hate crime' against America, as far as I'm concerned. The construction of any Muslim mosques should have been banned in this country afer 9/11! Where's Harry Truman when you need him? There would have been approximately 6 less Muslim countries in the world on 9/12/2001, if myself or Harry would have been President! The argument could be made that: Freedom of Religion should have its restrictions, just as the First Amendment has; especially when any religion openly vows to destroy the United States' infidels, starting with levelling real estate in this country. This argument is made on the fact that: The First Amendment, Freedom of Speech, restricts you from yelling 'Fire' in a crowded theatre. Any future mosque-building in our country is nothing more than ignoring the existing 'Hate-Crime' bill, which should include American's abuse at the hands of Muslims within our own country. By not doing so, it only opens the opportunity for all those 'insulted' Muslims living in our country to become the newest 'minority'...which is what they are attempting to do. The next great cause and case for the ACLU? Respect for Muslims! Additionally, the mosques which still do exist in this country, should be subjected to on-site inspections/raids as deemed necessary for our national security. I believe this '13' floor mosque just might prove to be 'unlucky' for Muslims in downtown New York City. Too many 'low' flying aircraft around! Especially, that close to 'ground zero.' Maybe Muslims don't know the significance of 'Friday the 13th?' They should ask a Catholic, like myself!

August 18 2010 at 9:41 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

fox is a nazi outlet for news...josef gopples would be proud of murdoch and his
hateful ilk

August 18 2010 at 6:49 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

fox is a nazi outlet for news...josef gopples would be proud of murdoch and his
hateful ilk

August 18 2010 at 6:49 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to vegasmark60's comment

Vega, Great handle on history

August 18 2010 at 5:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Build a baptist OR catholic church in saudi kingdom first! NEVER FORGET!

August 18 2010 at 1:23 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

Watch, remember, and listen.

I don't care what the Saudi Prince thinks, what this reporter thinks, and I definetly do not care what Iman Rauf who stated America was an accessory to this attack thinks.

It is cruel, tasteless and shows litte compassion for America and the loved ones of 9/11.

I believe this damn mosque has been the biggest divide of America and the America's government in years. Follow the money, oil, and self gratification. I do not see Obama as a leader nor a hero. He is a coward. And, Bloomberg can meet his 72 virgins in hell.

August 17 2010 at 11:25 PM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply

Linda, Why would you ban Christian churches from the area of the Oklahoma city bombing? Timothy McVeigh didn't blow up the Murray building out of any religious conviction at all, he set that bomb off revenging the federal goverments decision to set women and children on fire killing them down in Waco Texas.

August 17 2010 at 10:48 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Butcher a 1000 pigs and pour there blood and guts over the whole area.Then tell them to build there sacred temple.Use the meat to build a Sonney`s BBQ ON THE SPOT.

August 17 2010 at 10:16 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply


August 17 2010 at 9:09 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

I am really bothered by this story. I believe in Jesus Christ; I believe he died for my sins. I really have a problem when people judge Muslims for what a small radical sect of the Islam faith did to Americans. Not everyone who is Muslim believes in jihad. Those that do are called radicals. When people start shouting things like “Jesus hates Muslims” and “All Muslims are terrorists,” it really hurts me. I wouldn’t want people shouting “Muhammad hates Christians.” The Jews crucified Jesus; maybe we should stand outside synagogues and heckle them too. How about Shinto sand Buddhists: the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor; let’s go to Asian town and scream at them too. If people are true Christians, then they would forgive, BUT NOT FORGET. History will judge this Mosque “controversy” and it will not look good on America.

August 17 2010 at 8:46 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Gabe's comment

Gabe, this is not about religion. It is about the insensitive nature of putting up a mosque so close to the site of a massacre of over 3000 Americans. Do you remember the carnage? People having to choose from being burning alive or falling 100's of feet to their death? The rescuers that went into the building and never came out? 16 Islamic Muslims did this. They want to build a tribute to this right around the corner. Not just a little site, $100,000,000 site lead by a leader who thinks America was an accessory to 9-11. Jesus said "let he who had not sinned cast the first stone"....he did not say build a tribute to it. The mosque is insensitive, demeaning, and uncaring. If Muslims want to be compassionate, move to a property that is not controversial and try to mend tolerance with us. BTW, we are not trying to build a site in Japan, just as they are not trying to build a site at Pearl Harbor.

August 17 2010 at 11:38 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Gabe, don't you see that the Bible demonstrates Jesus died for the sins of all men? Yes, a FRACTION of Jews wanted Him crucified. But certainly not all, the entire early Church was made up of Jews. What do you think the apostles, disciples, the 5,000 on the Mount were? They were Jews! Yes, some Jews wanted Him dead. But it was a Roman, Pilate, who refused to save Jesus and it was Romans who drove the nails through his hands after nearly beating Him to death. The lesson here is that both JEWS AND GENTILES were responsible for the death of Jesus. Scripturally, that represents ALL MEN, as all men are sinners.

August 18 2010 at 1:18 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

I don't give a rip who owns what when it comes to wanting to build a mosque anywhere near the twin towers. Anybody who has an ounce of compassion for the friends and loved ones of those killed -- or should I say murdered -- by the Muslims would never even think of doing such an inconsiderate thing. It IS an in-your-face thing and if it is allowed to proceed, the Muslims will be laughing in the faces of the rest of us because they will see how weak our government leaders are when they "give in". I still say if the Muslims want a mosque built, go back where they came from the build all of them they want to build. They are meant to intimidate -- to show the presence of the Muslims in our country -- and not for any other reason. I say NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! and a million more NOS!

August 17 2010 at 7:28 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mamoseley3's comment

mamoseley3 > the peaceful muslims are reaching out to you, they want to be your friends, and they have posted this message to explain>

August 18 2010 at 5:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply