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(NY1) thanks to DP111
Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam behind an effort to build a controversial Islamic center near the World Trade Center site, reaffirmed today that his goal for a peaceful project â€“ with an eye toward reaching out to Muslims around the world and expressing a love for America.
In a speech this morning before the Council on Foreign Relations, the imam said that building the Islamic center will bring honor to the city and send a message that Americans are tolerant and live up to their ideals.
“In recent days some people have asked, ‘is there really a need for an Islamic Community Center in Lower Manhattan? Is it worth all this firestorm? The answer is a categorical yes!” Rauf said.
The imam returned many times to his American roots as he spoke, even defining himself as a New York Giants fan.
He says the story of Muslim Americans is the same immigrant story as the founders of the nation, and that every religion has radicals.
“Every religion in the world has extremists, sadly Islam is among them,” said Rauf. “All faiths have among their members those who distort and twist the core values for their own agendas. They advocate positions that we here and decent people all over the world and I assure you 99-point-whatever percent of Muslims in this world totally find this abhorrent.”
The imam says the real battle is not between Muslims and those of different faiths, and instead asked a coalition of moderates be formed to fight the extremists.
He said continuing the contentious debates and political fodder is only fueling an anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world.
Meanwhile, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani yesterday said there are two sides to Rauf.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Giuliani said that while Rauf preaches about reconciliation, he has also made candid remarks about the U.S. being an accessory to the September 11th attacks.
“He seems to be more interested in confrontation than in healing,” Giuliani said. “Those are very, very strong words and to enter into a suggestion of a threat, I worry about this as the kind of tactics he pursues.”
Giuliani says common sense and a dedication to healing should be reason enough to move the Islamic center to another location — adding that the families of victims deserve the utmost consideration.
Its not over before the fat lady sings.
- In the meantime, read this fromÂ Fitzgerald: Feisal Abdul Rauf Makes A Big Mistake