September 8th, 2010
08:54 PM ET

Live blog: Imam behind NYC Islamic center speaks

Editor's note: The imam who plans to build an Islamic center and mosque a few blocks from New York's ground zero spoke to CNN's Soledad O'Brien on "Larry King Live" Wednesday night. The following is a running log of what Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf discussed.

[Updated, 10:04 p.m.] O'Brien's last question was whether Rauf could unequivocally say that the center would be built at the currently planned location, a few blocks from ground zero.

"We certainly hope to build a Cordoba House vision of a multifaith center that will build relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims," he said.

[Updated, 9:59 p.m.] Rauf was asked about the pastor in Florida who plans to burn Qurans this weekend, on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

"I would plead with him to seriously consider what he is doing. It is going to feed into the radicals in the Muslim world," Rauf said.

He noted that U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus has warned that the burning would endanger U.S. troops overseas.

"It's something which is not right to do on [those] grounds," Rauf said.

"We have freedom of speech, but with freedom comes responsibility. ... This is dangerous for our national security, but also it is the un-Christian thing to do," he added.

[Updated, 9:48 p.m.] When asked if the State Department was correct in saying Hamas is a terrorist organization, Rauf said: "I condemn everyone and anyone who commits acts of terrorism, and Hamas has committed acts of terrorism."

When asked what he thought about the 9/11 hijackers claiming they were doing what they did in the name of Islam, he said:

"That is a travesty. Just as the inquisitors in Spain were committing a travesty [against] the teachings of Jesus Christ. We do have people in our communities who [commit travesties] against Islam."

[Updated, 9:40 p.m.] O'Brien asked about his interview with CBS's "60 Minutes," shortly after the 9/11 attacks, in which he said the United States' policies "were an accessory to the crime."

O'Brien asked twice, but Rauf deflected the question.

"The work we have to do now is not about pointing fingers," he said, as part of his response.

[Updated, 9:32 p.m.] Rauf, the imam at the center of the controversial proposed Islamic community center and mosque in New York, said that "nothing is off the table" when asked whether he would consider moving the site.

"We are consulting ... various people about how to do this so that we negotiate the best and safest option."

[Updated, 9:28 p.m.] Rauf reiterated that the issue about what to do with the center going forward is important for national security.

"If we don't do this right, anger will explode in the Muslim world," Rauf said. "... If we don't handle this crisis correctly, it could become something very dangerous indeed."

He said moving the project to another location would strengthen Islamist radicals' ability to recruit followers and will increase violence against Americans.

He said again that if he knew ahead of time the controversy this would create, he wouldn't have made the plans to build the center at the currently planned site.

[Updated, 9:21 p.m.] Rauf said that if he knew how controversial the project would be, he "never would have done this - not have done something that would create more divisiveness."

However, he said he is convinced he shouldn't move the center now because "our national security now hinges on how we negotiate this, how we speak about it and what we do."

By that, he said, he means that if the controversy forces a move, "it means the radicals … will shape the discourse on both sides."

[Updated, 9:15 p.m.] Asked whether he was surprised by the controversy, Rauf said he was.

He pointed out that news of the plans to build the Islamic center and mosque was published in The New York Times in December, and "no one objected" at the time. He said the issue was politicized later.

[Updated, 9:13 p.m.] Asked why he wanted to build the center on the planned spot, Rauf noted he's already run a mosque about 10 blocks from ground zero for many years.

When asked about the feelings of families of 9/11 victims - such as those who might claim that their relative's remains have yet to be found at the site, Rauf said: "This is not that spot. This is not ground zero proper. No one's body is in that location."

"I'm very sensitive to those feelings," he said. "As an imam - as any religious person does - we have to minister to the pain and hurt ... in our communities. This is part of our intention."

He said he intends to put a 9/11 memorial in the center.

[Updated, 9:07 p.m.] O'Brien asked why Rauf was quiet during the recent uproar while he was overseas. He said wanted to wait until he got back to his home country, America.

"I didn’t think is was appropriate for me to speak about this while I was overseas," he said.

He said people in the Middle East "have been very concerned about this" issue.

"The concerns of people there are about both what this means in the United States, but what this means also for them, because the United States is the only global superpower today, and what happens here has an enormous impact over the rest of the world," he said.

[Original post, 8:54 p.m.] The imam who plans to build a community center and mosque within blocks of New York's ground zero will be interviewed live at 9 p.m. ET on CNN's "Larry King Live."

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf will talk with CNN's Soledad O'Brien about his decision to move ahead with the plan. As the interview happens, this blog post will be updated with portions of what Rauf says.

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. Backers cite, among other things, First Amendment rights and the need to express religious tolerance.

Post by: ,
Filed under: Islam • New York • Religion
soundoff (1,302 Responses)
  1. iraqi girl

    why is it that the media would not ask the muslims about building a church in muslim country

    September 8, 2010 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Marilyn

    WHY CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG!!!! Why can't this center be built by multi-donators to be a center for the belief of all religions, education in the ways of peace, and education about each other; why can't it be a place where all faiths can worship and follow the ideas of freedom of speech and freedom of religion??? We are just bound and determined to tare each other apart because each of us is different. We need to begin to hang together, or hang apart!

    September 8, 2010 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave Thompson

      That's just not what Islam is about. Educate yourself, the media is doing a crappy job at it.

      September 8, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sahameza

    I very much appreciated the comments made by Imam Rauf. Just to be clear the propsed location of the centre is near ground zero not actually on ground zero. But the real question or discussion is not about the location of the Islamic or inter-faith center; the real issue is the blatant relgious discrimination

    September 8, 2010 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • InsertPictureofMohammadHere

      I picked up body parts from the proposed location while helping with the cleanup. Does that make location a more valid argument? No one's saying they're barred from building it. There's a large part of America asking them to consider a different location to demonstrate the sensitivity they claim they have toward America. How could location not be a part of it?

      September 8, 2010 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dave Thompson

    If moderate Islam exists, now would be a great time for "it" to speak up against this mosque, because if Rauf is an example of "moderate", I don't want either the moderates or the real thing.

    September 8, 2010 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • InsertPictureofMohammadHere

      Moderate muslims are covert radical muslims that are waiting to see how things play out.

      September 8, 2010 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jim Fincher

    Why would they do it in the first place? Why would they open it on the 10th anniversary of 9-11 ?

    Are you folks blind and cannot see the forest for the trees? You think these are good guys that want to build this? Open your eyes and read a bit about the Muslim flaunting their conquests...and clearly these thugs view 9-11 a conquest.

    Read abou the selection of the name "Cordoba" relationship to their tradition of conquering their adversary...

    September 8, 2010 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • SID

      71% of AMericans thinck SOLE HER DAD should quit working as an actor PLAYING A REPORTER...........

      September 8, 2010 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. clem

    Women in the Arab culture are for breeding boys are for fun!

    September 8, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Alienative

    If they want freedom of worship in the US, why don't they allow the Jewish community rebuild their temple on the Temple Mountain?

    September 8, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jenn

      Who is "they"? This Imam's family is from Egypt, not Palestine.
      Do you think YOU could tell Canada what to do, just because it's a border state that speaks the same language and has the same religion?

      September 8, 2010 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Patrick Burke

    Again I ask. Why. What are the chances or challenges of me building a Catholic Church in most places of the Middle East. From what I understand those odds are low. In fact displaying a Christ Cross is not permitted. I do agree in freedom of religion. But it must be equal. Build your Mosque I would respect that. Let me speak of my Christain faith in your land. Give me the same Freedom. It is insane that I can not have the same freedoms in Muslim countries to worship as I please. Why can't I bring a Bible and preach it in Iran, Irag, or Saudi. THat is not tolerated. Please do not burn a Quran, but also let me at least speak of the Christain Bible in an Arab town. Freedom. Our worlds may be better for it. Love to All.

    September 8, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jenn

      You seem to be totally confused about how power works and about how governments govern.
      Let me help clear it up for you – your average practicing Muslims in Manhattan – doctors, dentists, cab drivers, storekeepers – have no sway in deciding how some Arab governments deal with Christianity.
      And there are Christians in the Arab world. Maybe you should go visit them and read the bible together...their people have been Christian for a hell of a lot longer than yours probably – since many are actually FROM where Jesus LIVED.
      Please go read some books and buy some plane tickets.

      September 8, 2010 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      I have gone to mass in Catholic Churches in several countries in the middle east. They are very open and not in hiding. Very few countries are exclusively Islamic. Even Iran and Iraq have Churches and Synagogues.

      September 8, 2010 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Superduty

    Islam is not a religion; it's a way of life. "Islamic law covers all aspects of life, from matters of state, like governance and foreign relations, to issues of daily living. They see Western cultural values as a threat, and promote Islam as a comprehensive solution to every public and private question of importance." The more mosques being built means more power of Islam and it will spread over time. Islam is the second largest (religion) in the world and by far the fastest growing. Wake up you oblivious sympathizers, and see what is taking place! And for those that say there are only a few radical Muslims that want Americans to die, wake up and smell the roses and watch the news. I believe there are only a few Muslims in the US that are peaceful compared to the billions that call for our destruction.

    September 8, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Richard Brown

    Ironic that radical muslims and muslim countries can show bodies of Americans slaughtered and hanging from bridges, the muslim news channels displaying this for the world to watch, and most of the muslim nations cheering the death to Americans...yet we oppose a mosque that is entirely too close to the sacred ground the radical muslims created by killing 3000 people in the World Trade Center. Move the Mosque. This is not political for most Americans. It is a slap in the face of all Americans that the liberal media is even allowing people to discuss this issue.

    September 8, 2010 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • InsertPictureofMohammadHere

      I demand you stop being a bigot with your rational thinking! /sarcasm

      September 8, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. SID

    sole her dad .go home and DVR the Rachel Maddow show........REALLY SHE IS THAT GOOD

    September 8, 2010 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Greg

    It always amaze me that America never learns from our past. I hear over and over again about the 71% of Americans appose the Islamic center. How many more times will we allow others to suffer or be persecuted because it will make the majority uncomfortable even when we know it's the right. Just in case you wonder I'm a christian and in that minority...

    September 8, 2010 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • InsertPictureofMohammadHere

      I suppose it's similar to no one learning from Islam's past.

      September 8, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Gautam

    We in America are Americans, we should live like Americans..... the Majority of people do not want a Mosque near ground zero in NY, so the sentiments of the majority should be respected, why religion should be so important to Muslims, where as every one should be American First and then a Muslim or Christian or a Hindu or a Jew. If any American muslim thinks that the mosque should be built at the said site then they need to re-think with an open mind that will this be good for their country ( America ) and for their fellow citizens. Building a mosque will not win hearts, it will create more rift and hate...Rather than building a Mosque why not Musims propose for building an ALL RELIGION temple.

    September 8, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jenn

    Iraqi women can vote and drive...Egyptian women can vote and just about all Muslim countries this is true. Stop going to the extreme here. You need to realize that even a lot of Sunni Muslims living in the Arab world don't want to be associated – politically or religiously – with the interpretation practiced in Saudi Arabia. The Arab and Muslim world has a lot of diversity and a lot of different practices and interpretations – even within Sunni Islam.

    September 8, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Steve

    The Quran burning in that church in Florida is wrong. What would Christians feel if they were burning the Bible. What would our Jewish Brothers feel if they were burning the Torah. If this act is done by these radical Christians it will anger our Islamic brothers and I would not blame them. The burning of any book of God/Allah is just wrong.

    BTW.... Remember that a lot of people are currently judging all of Islam based on the actions of a radical Islamic Group. Would we like it if all of Christianity was judged based on the actions of the KKK who uses the Bible to justify their actions.

    September 8, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54