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ABU DHABI: N.Y. Islamic center imam calls opponents 'small, vociferous' group


The leader of the proposed Manhattan Islamic cultural center near the site of the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks told a Persian Gulf newspaper that there was no conflict between Islam and America and dismissed the opponents of the Park51 project as being led by "very small, vociferous voices."

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's interview with the Abu Dhabi-based daily newspaper the National, which was published Monday, provided the first extensive comments he'd made about the controversy over the community center, which will include a prayer room, in the weeks since a New York City planning board gave it final approval.  

He's currently in the Middle East on a U.S. State Department-sponsored tour of Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, where he is speaking to groups of Muslims in an attempt to boost relations between America and Islam.

Last week, several hundred activists protested the placement of the proposed center so close to ground zero as insensitive to the victims. Cable-news channels have been giving the issue extensive coverage, with some guests accusing Abdul Rauf of harboring sympathies for radical Islam. Some worry the heated rhetoric is harming America's reputation in the Muslim world.

But Abdul Rauf said the clash over the proposed center, formerly called the Cordoba House, is not "between Muslims and non-Muslims, but between moderates of all the faith traditions and the radicals of all the faith traditions."

He said there were "very small, loud and vociferous voices who are beating the drum for the opposite kind of discourse."

The scholar attributed part of the opposition to election-year grandstanding over a local issue. “The fact of the matter is the local community board recognizes and understands the vision, the politicians in New York understand the vision, and there is broad-based support for these objectives,”  he said. 

He said he planned to speak out more about the controversy when he's back home. “As it is, my trust and conviction in the wisdom of the American people and political leadership and the American people at large is that they will act in accordance with the highest principles of our Constitution and the fundamental American belief in justice and protection of everybody’s rights,” he said.

Read the entire article in the National here.

-- Borzou Daragahi in Beirut

Photo: Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf at a hotel in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. Credit: Reuters

Comments () | Archives (19)

A "small group" of opponents? LOL...

The most recent poll by Quinnapiac University shows 71% of New Yorkers AGAINST locating the mosque to Ground Zero...that is the highest number yet & opposition will continue to grow.

Obviously they don't need a "proper" mosque to pray otherwise the building to be torn down could never have been used in the first place. They still have their right to worship, they still have their right to assemble but they should never have the right to convert an American city skyline to domes and minarets. If this were to happen, then what would be next?? Calls to prayer over loud speakers??? Give me a break, they're bullying the citizens of NYC and Bloomberg obviously likes it. They still have Mecca, don't forget, if they're that needy.

A hot dog stand doesn't behead people because the Qur'an commands it to. Neither does Christianity or Judaism. Islam is different. We are at war with Islam, not the people of Middle East, Islam is the enemy. The problem is that Islam is the source of Al Qaida's beliefs and the beliefs of most terrorists.

The Fort Hood gunman was an American, converted to Islam, then had the brilliant idea that America should be attacked. I wonder if Islam's hateful teachings and sanctioning of murder had anything to do with that?

Rauf will be VERY careful what he says on THIS trip, but he has frequently said pro-Sharia, pro-Hamas statements overseas in the past & his leanings are clearly toward RADICAL Islam.



The Islamic Cultural Center is one block up one street, around the corner, and one block down that street from the edge of the property on which the WTC stood. It is a big piece of property. It is not across from Ground Zero. That's nuts! There is a MacDonalds and strip club there. Shouldn't we close them down too? With the Cultural Center will come families, and ordinary stores, and will make the neighborhood safer for people who will come to the new WTC and Memorial to visit. We want people in the neighborhoods around there, not a slum of strip clubs, boarded up buildings, and homeless people sleeping in doorways and garbage strewn alleys. The building the Muslims bought, was a deserted clothing store, destroyed on 9/11. Who wants to buy it and build a monument? Do you? No, but you would keep someone else from buying it to build a cultural center for the neighborhood, with a restaurant and sports area for the area's children. You would deny the owner the right to sell it to someone, and force them to keep it forever, because nobody else wants it.
The height of culture and knowledge in Spain, was during the time of the Moorish conquest. After 1492, when the Jews and Moors were forced out of Spain, there was a drop to the bottom, ending in Franco. El Greco wasn't Spanish.
Islam is foreign to Christianity, but so is Judaism. You read our Book, so you think you understand what we believe, but you don't. You don't believe in their Allah; we don't believe in your Jesus.
The Imam who leads this group of Muslims, Imam Rauf, is a personal friend of George W Bush. That should be good enough. He was sent on several missions by Bush during his administration. What more do you want? How dare any of you question him!

There is only one religion in America "Christanity" and our crusaders are Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin. I hope that they will become the next President and VP in 2012 and save us.

The United States is not an Islamic nation and the 80% of Americans who oppose the GZ mosque do not constitute a small, vociferous group.





I am against the mosque. I am not religious. I like some things about each religion, but you know...there's a type of programming of the followers of Islam that seems a little bit more dangerous than the programming that goes on in other religions.

Any Imam who preaches for Sharia Law is preaching for the overthrow of the USA, which is treason. Any Imam doing this should be flogged by the US Army and kicked out of the USA.

It's 70% of the American people. They will NEVER build this mosque at GZ.

Newscorp's second highest shareholder supports Rauf and probably the Cordoba House.

It's a local issue, and most New Yorkers are fine with it. 2 blocks in Manhattan is a lot farther than in other parts of the country. People here don't consider it near Ground Zero.

Rauf is right, many (not all) of the people who are against the Cordoba house are religious extremists, like Bin Laden. The last thing he wants is peaceful relations with America.

Stop calling it "Park51." It's the Cordoba Mosque, as in Cordoba, Spain, (the Muslim seat of power in the Western World before the Moors were kicked out of Spain.). The planners of this thing gave it that name because they intend it to be a monument to Islam's Conquest of the West. And BTW, they still call it the "Cordoba Initiative."

There is something called good taste and taking the moral high ground. I only hope that when the Mosque opens up, that hot dog and sausage vendors fill the street. I hope that Smithfield Ham, Farmer John, Hickory Farms and an Italian deli, are their new neighbors.

I have no ill will towards Islam, but when a radical Imam is receiving funding from US taxpayers and foreign governments to build this mosque, especially in this location, the line in the sand has been crossed.

Shame on Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the rest of the New York City Council.

"very small, vociferous voices." Call them what makes you happy and make good sound bites in the Arab World, but the truth is 'It Will Not Be Built in the Current Planned Location.'

More than 60% of the country is not small. Nor is it limited to hardcore teabags and rethugs. There are many of us who don't dispute the legality of this 'project'. It's a matter of cultural sensitivity. Like newspapers refraining from printing 'offensive' cartoons---it's not a legal mandate but done in the interests of peace and cooperation.

Sounds about right

A "'small, vociferous' group". He must be talking about the 60% plus (according to polls), that are against the 9/11 mosque.


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