Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf

Feisal Abdul Rauf was out of the country when a firestorm of controversy erupted over his plans for an Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan, so the moderate imam must have been puzzled when his so-called Ground Zero mosque suddenly became a rallying cry for conservatives. Before he gained a national spotlight for Park51, a planned center that critics claimed was an insult to the memory of those who died on Sept. 11, he had stood for everything the radical Muslims who flew planes into the World Trade Center would oppose. He had founded two nonprofits dedicated to building bridges between the Muslim world and the U.S. and was a leader in efforts to promote interfaith dialogue with Christian and Jewish leaders. For his part, Rauf has said Park51 will promote an interfaith agenda and argues that locating it near (but not, as many falsely claimed, on) Ground Zero is essential to the center's message of healing the wounds of 9/11 and promoting moderate Islam in the U.S.