September 8th, 2010
07:36 PM ET

Imam behind NYC Islamic center on CNN tonight

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf will talk with CNN's Soledad O'Brien on Wednesday night about his decision to move ahead with plans to build a community center and mosque within blocks of New York's ground zero.

The interview, which will be shown at 9 p.m. ET, comes after he wrote an New York Times editorial addressing the controversy about the plan. Opponents of the plan say the center would be too close to the site of the 2001 terror attacks and is an affront to the memory of those who died in the al Qaeda strike.

Below is a round-up of CNN's other coverage on the issue published in the past 24 hours:

- Who is Rauf? CNN's Eliott McLaughlin reports that he has stepped into controversial issues before, but with words of temperance.

- Akbar Ahmed, professor and Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, offers an opinion on how Rauf and Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who plans a Quran burning in Florida on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, can live their faiths.

- Hamid Dabashi, professor of Iranian studies and comparative literature at Columbia University in New York, writes that the Islamic center is a historic mark of freedom in the U.S.

- Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar, writes that Rauf is not just a Muslim, but a Sufi as well.

- Eboo Patel, founder and president of a Chicago-based organization building interfaith cooperation, writes about the Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf that he knows.

After Rauf's interview on CNN, go to iReport to tell us whether it changed your mind about the Islamic center or reinforced your opinion.

Filed under: New York • Religion
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. good!

    those killed on 911 are resting in peace they have paid for their sins i am sure they not appreciate the rest of us to continue fuss over them and carry on this way. would you rather wish it was you instead of them on 911? we are so hypocritical in this country, we should let the dead bury their dead and let the living keep living and better yet move on with our lives.

    September 8, 2010 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maya

      I don't buy any part of this guy's argument. I think he is threatening that there is a National Security issue from radicals. He does not want to take into account the sentiments of his fellow americans(assuming he is a true american as he says he is). I just cannot trust him and his motives.

      September 8, 2010 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. markglicken

    It is unusual and not coincidental that the Imam would announce plans to go ahead with the Mosque only a few days before the anniversary of 9-11.

    September 8, 2010 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jj

    Would the Imam support building a Christian church three blocks from mecca or some other major Muslim site?

    If feel it is your right to build the mosque but I find it interesting the same thing would never fly in other countries.

    September 8, 2010 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fernando F.

      The difference is that the US is proud of their Liberty of Religion and the Mecca country doesn't have that liberty. That's why. Now some Americans want to move the US close to Saudi Arabia style of Governing. That's ridiculous.

      September 8, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Harold Bissonette (pronounced Bissonay)

      Quite a difference in building a community center in New York and a church next to a Mosque. Your analogy is bad. And inflammatory and reactionary.

      September 8, 2010 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Fernando F.

    Soledad O'Brien is not listening the answers. Like 3 times she is insisting why not moved the Community Centre, and the Imam keeps telling her that right now it will be more dangerous because of the radical Muslims around the World. Is very embarrassing to come back to point zero of the discussion when the answer is already on the table (National Security). Moving the Community now is too late.

    September 8, 2010 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • polknole

      Absolutely! Look at her body language, listen to her. Its outrageous. Has Fox taken over CNN now too?

      September 8, 2010 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Merl10

      I thought so as well for a while until I realized that she wanted the interview to be challenging, not just a nice-to-have-you-visit chat. It also seems that he welcomed the real engagement because he called for it many times, asking that moderates of all faiths speak out their truth and their feelings on the topics. She was bit combative and sometimes acting as if she did not listen but all in all, she was doing her job.
      Let's hope we moderates can continue this dialog and reclaim the discourse for the sake of our world.

      September 8, 2010 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mick

      yeah, appallingly bad journalistic work

      September 9, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Harold Bissonette (pronounced Bissonay)

    When in Manhattan, stop by to the center and introduce yourself. Shake hands and wish them peace and good luck. This could be the healing that New York needs. Set an example for the rest of the world to see. After all, we are a Christian nation. What?...aren't we?

    September 8, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Merl10

      Well said. We need examples of good relations between all faiths more than ever. The world is watching and everybody agrees on that !!

      September 8, 2010 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Maria

    Somebody should ask the Imam if the radicals as well as the moderates will be allowed in the mosque after it is built.. and then – is it not possible that a radical vs moderate discourse may take place - and is it not possible also that the radicals can gain greater support over the more submissive moderates in their condemnation of americans (the infidels) and what an ideal location to do this from. It sounds like the Imam – in his kind voice – is making a threat (for the radicals) that there would be a problem if they are not allowed to build there.

    September 8, 2010 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fernando F.

      you miss something the Imam said: he wants to take the conversation away from the radicals, from both sides. No radical from any group is good. Radicals are fanatics. They don't care about anything except their own agenda.

      September 8, 2010 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Merl10

      Rauf revealed a very interesting goal for the islamic center (not a mosque by the way): the center will include specific prayer spaces for not only muslims but also christians and jews who visit and use the center. By doing so, the center would make it easier for moderates to talk and much harder for radicals to penetrate.

      September 8, 2010 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Fernando F.

    I watch a video of the Imam from Dec 2009 talking in FOX NEWS about this Community Centre .... and nobody had a problem with it. Of course, nobody was running for Government at the time. As usual, Republicans are ready to tell people who to be fearful of.

    September 8, 2010 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mick

      True, and I bet that in a few months, after the elections no one will discuss this issue.

      September 9, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Gener

    I'm a bit disappointed in Soledad's behavior and I dare say lack of professionalism during this interview. I'm a fan of Soledad, but tonight, quite frankly I'm embarrassed for her. I'm not sure if she's actually listening to his answers or actually cares to. She repeats questions that he has answered in a different angle as if to try to trap him. She seems to be more focused on getting response that can be spun. For one, she rudely does not allow him to complete his responses especially as soon as she realizes that his answers to her seemingly loaded questions are direct and poignant. Perhaps someone should give her a lesson on interviewing. Unfortunately she's neglected the role of neutral and objective journalism and instead, she asks questions in such a manner as to force a specific answer, one that could possibly be a headline for CNN or any news channel to do use. I think the interview was informative, from his perspective.

    September 8, 2010 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. polknole

    Solidad is in the Imam's face on every answer. This is shameful and disrespectful.

    September 8, 2010 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fernando F.

      agree completely. what a bad and incendiary interview. She asked 5 times "why don't you move the Centre?". answer: National Security.

      September 8, 2010 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rafael DiCristina

    Why is Soledad so biased and why does she keep pressing the Imam to move the Islamic Center? Why is it so difficult for her to understand that the Imam is right when he states that by moving the Center the radicals on both sides will have won? Soledad, you are implicitly ascribing collective guilt to a religious group because of the actions of a delusional minority. You disappoint me due to your lack of impartiality. In addition, you lack the basic skills required of people in your profession.

    September 8, 2010 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mick

      Yeah, I wish Larry would have done the interview.

      September 9, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. krn

    This imam is a fraud.He and his team were earlier saying that it would be a Islamic culture centre with a praying area – means MOSQUE.Now he is saying it will be a multi-faith centre seeing the protests.Worse he is giving a vieled threat that if HIS wish is not full-filled there will be VIOLENCE.This is MAFIASO style of pressuring people into accepting demands – completely FRAUD.

    September 9, 2010 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
  12. Leonard B

    Religion should be very private and personal for the practioner. The less the places of worship the better. God is suppposed to be everywhere!!! There is no difference between the bible burning pastor and Imam Rauf. Both are looking for cheap publicity.The media is playing into their hands. Please ignore them.

    September 9, 2010 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  13. nasser

    Sir about building a mosque has no support from the people of america i think we should not have a problem but sir statements made by the priest of burning the holy book without realising the contents of the book and how holy it is to a muslim is not a right statement to be making as talking about tolerance when the american troops entered iraq telling the world that it has weapons of mass restruction the muslim world did critisize the leaders decision along with the rest of the world but we as proud muslims did not bring an offer of burning the bible as not all christians r responsible for it, sir i request the father to refrain from doing such a thing as it would hurt a lot of muslims around the world pls do understand the meaning of religion weather its islam ,christanity ,hinduism or any other religion lets not bring HUMAN EGO in talking about each others religions, Sir if the people wish not to have a mosque let us not make an issue lets not fight over something which is going to spread hatred as for a muslim , i would request the american govt to pls not let religion come in the 9/11 attack as we also condem this evil act which is not a part of islam .

    September 9, 2010 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |