Editor's Note: This report comes from the CNN Wire staff in New York.
The controversial head of a Muslim congregation in New York announced the launch of a "multinational, multifaith movement" meant to improve understanding and build trust between "people of all cultures and faith traditions," according to a statement released Tuesday.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the public face of a recent political firestorm surrounding the construction of an Islamic center in Lower Manhattan, is now spearheading what he calls the Cordoba Movement.
The initiative is meant to broaden his groups' work in promoting religious tolerance and "expand learning among Muslims, Jews, Christians and people of all faiths," the statement said.
"We must retake the discourse among religions and cultures from the hands of the extremists around the world who benefit from hatred and violence," Rauf said in the statement. "We must stop this downward spiral of hatred, mistrust and misunderstanding if our world is to have a peaceful future."
It is unclear how the initiative will work to accomplish that goal.
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