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'Ground Zero Mosque' moving forward
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said the 'Ground Zero Mosque' is moving forward at Interfaith event on Friday.
September 10th, 2011
10:41 AM ET

'Ground Zero Mosque' moving forward

By Heather M. Higgins, CNN

New York (CNN) – While all eyes are on lower Manhattan, nearly 200 people gathered more than 100 blocks north of Ground Zero on Friday night to honor 9/11 families and to recognize a decade of interfaith work at the Interchurch Center.

"Tonight we want to commemorate the event and we are going to honor 10 families who lost victims on 9/11. Five are Muslim, five are not Muslim, to show that we share the pain, we share the hope, we share the prayer," said Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.

He hosted the event, In Good Faith: Stories of Hope and Resilience, along with the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA) and the Interchurch Center.

September 11 raised the profile of Islam in the U.S. and, according to Rauf, it caused the Western world to pay attention in a way that made Muslims the subject of intense suspicion. His goal is to build an American Muslim identity and enhance multi-faith dialogue.

The event highlighted bridge-building projects and began with a harmonic recitation from the Quran by Ali Karjoovary.

"We need a national healing around 9/11 and our hope is that we can achieve it," Rauf said. "And no matter how you slice it, I believe this healing will require the help of religious voices and American Muslims."

Rauf, the founder of the Cordoba Initiative, an organization dedicated to improving understanding among people of all cultures and faiths, fell under intense scrutiny when plans to build an Islamic community center adjacent to Ground Zero were unveiled.

According to Julie Menin, chairwoman of community board 1 in lower Manhattan, the community center, called Cordoba House, was approved by the local community in a vote of 29 to 1 in May 2010. Nonetheless, it provoked vocal opposition from some families of 9/11 victims and other groups.

Rauf dispelled rumors that the project is now on hold. "It is always being moved forward," he said.

"I've had this vision for over 20 years. The dream of establishing Cordoba House in New York is very much alive and we are actively pursuing the methods by which we can have such an institution."

The project, intended to bring people together, has done more to tear them apart. But Rauf is optimistic about the future, in a nation that was built on the principle of religious freedom. He sees Cordoba House as something that can be replicated both in the United States and around the world.

The 10th anniversary of 9/11 has been bittersweet for Rauf. While there are signs of progress, the healing process and building of ties between Muslims and non-Muslims is far from complete.

His hope for the 20th anniversary of 9/11? "To bring all people together," he said succinctly.

"The battlefront that I see is not between Islam and the West or Muslims and America but between all of the moderates and all of the extremists. We have to band together to combat the extremists of all religions," said Rauf.

Up until last summer, Rauf was invited by the State Department to engage in public diplomacy work and to share his experience as an American Muslim, making four trips abroad in 10 years. However, his visit to the Gulf countries during the summer of 2010 was his last.

"The controversy has changed my life in some ways," he said.

The spirit of the evening was captured in the knotted rainbow ribbons that cascaded over the steps inside the chapel. The giant tapestry was a gift from the people of Norway during the height of the controversy one year ago.

Rauf and his wife, Daisy Khan, ASMA executive director and co-founder, see it is a symbol of connectedness.

Among those attending the event were Bobby Ghosh, TIME Magazine's world editor, veterans Fahad Khan and Matt Gallagher, and Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr., of the Healing of the Nations Foundation, who delivered a healing prayer before inviting all interfaith leaders to the front of the chapel to link hands as a sign of solidarity.

Russell Simmons, media mogul and philanthropist, took part in honoring the memory of 9/11 victims, by presenting plaques to 10 families.

One woman, who lost her husband, John Patrick Salamone, choked back tears while speaking about her children and the absence of their father.

"I lived on the other side of hate," MaryEllen Salamone said, "And peace is a better alternative."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • 9/11 • Belief

soundoff (197 Responses)
  1. The Church Of Lord Obama in Washington, D.C. in Dupont Circle

    Please read this article because our church in Washington, D.C. is uriging Americans to worship and praise president Obama because He is our personal Lord and Messiah and will protect us from insurgents overseas. Satan caused the kidnapping of journalists like Daniel Pearl and others but Obama is the new Jesus Christ of the world! For info, call us at 240–344-1323 or 202–895-3000. Thank you for your service!

    ISLAMABAD (AP) – A 72-year-old American development worker who was kidnapped in Pakistan by al-Qaida more than two years ago appealed to President Obama in a video released Thursday to negotiate his release, saying he feels "totally abandoned and forgotten."

    The video of Warren Weinstein of Rockville, Md., was the first since two videos released in September 2012. Weinstein, the country director in Pakistan for J.E. Austin Associates, a U.S.-based firm that advises a range of Pakistani business and government sectors, was abducted from his house in the eastern city of Lahore in August 2011.

    In the video sent Thursday to reporters in Pakistan including The Associated Press, Weinstein called on the U.S. government to negotiate his release.

    "Nine years ago I came to Pakistan to help my government, and I did so at a time when most Americans would not come here, and now when I need my government it seems that I have been totally abandoned and forgotten," Weinstein said during the 13-minute video. "And so I again appeal to you to instruct your appropriate officials to negotiate my release."

    It was impossible to tell how much Weinstein's statement, made under the duress of captivity, was scripted by his captors.

    The video and an accompanying letter purported to be from Weinstein was emailed anonymously to reporters in Pakistan. The video was labelled "As-Sahab," which is al-Qaida's media wing, but its authenticity could not be independently verified. The letter was dated Oct. 3, 2013 and in the video Weinstein said he had been in captivity for two years.

    In the video, Weinstein wore a grey track suit jacket and what appeared to be a black knit hat on his head. His face was partially covered with a beard.

    Al-Qaida has said Weinstein would be released if the U.S. halted airstrikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen and also demanded the release of all al-Qaida and Taliban suspects around the world.

    The White House has called for Weinstein's immediate release but has said it won't negotiate with al-Qaida.

    The videos last year showed Weinstein appealing for help from the Jewish community and Israel's prime minister.

    December 26, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
  2. o momma

    we should help them build it. what's the problem?

    November 3, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
  3. Janene Lanton

    Good read, I just passed this onto a pal who was undertaking somewhat study on that. And he really bought me lunch as I found it for him smile As a result let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch!

    November 3, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
  4. Science

    Update :

    See for yourself below.................The fairy in the sky did NOT create us !

    Monkey Math: Baboons Show Brain's Ability to Understand Numbers ..........E = mc2..............(U-Pb) numbers do not lie !

    May 3, 2013 — Opposing thumbs, expressive faces, complex social systems: it's hard to miss the similarities between apes and humans. Now a new study with a troop of zoo baboons and lots of peanuts shows that a less obvious trait – the ability to understand numbers – also is shared by humans and their primate cousins.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130503132719.htm

    OR.........take a ride on a DINO.

    Fossil records are better to read than the nasty bible..................no god(s) required !

    Oldest? New 'Bone-Head' Dinosaur Hints at Higher Diversity of Small Dinosaurs

    May 7, 2013 — Scientists have named a new species of bone-headed dinosaur (pachycephalosaur) from Alberta, Canada. Acrotholus audeti (Ack-RHO-tho-LUS) was identified from both recently discovered and historically collected fossils. Approximately six feet long and weighing about 40 kilograms in life, the newly identified plant-eating dinosaur represents the oldest bone-headed dinosaur in North America, and possibly the world.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130507124800.htm

    The Science Guy takes on creationism

    CNN|Added on November 24, 2012

    http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2012/11/24/intv-nye-creationism.cnn

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/05/when-christians-become-a-hated-minority/comment-page-95/#comments

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/07/biden-urges-faith-leaders-to-pressure-lawmakers-on-background-checks/#comments

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/06/richard-dawkins-evolution-is-not-a-controversial-issue/comment-page-14/#comment-2333546

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/05/when-christians-become-a-hated-minority/#comments

    And

    ..NO ANGELS with PITCH FORKS the old pope KICKED them in OFF the TEAM last year !

    From Soup to Cells—the Origin of Life

    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIE2aOriginoflife.shtml

    Pope's book on Jesus challenges Christmas traditions

    By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN

    updated 10:56 AM EST, Fri November 23, 2012

    http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/22/world/europe/vatican-pope-jesus-book/index.html?iref=allsearch

    All these years there are suppose to be angels.......................then poof go the angels according to the old pope;.......

    where are the morals there ?

    Hey James Madison................religion has none it looks like.............with the comments on this blog.

    The Big question is ETHICS ! does religion have any ?

    The Ethics of Resurrecting Extinct Species

    Apr. 8, 2013 — At some point, scientists may be able to bring back extinct animals, and perhaps early humans, raising questions of ethics and environmental disruption.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130408165955.htm

    OR

    and it only takes minutes now..............to simple for them maybe ?

    For all creationists and ID believers...............IT only takes minutes to figure IT out. No fairy in the sky needed !

    New Device Can Extract Human DNA With Full Genetic Data in Minutes

    May 6, 2013 — Take a swab of saliva from your mouth and within minutes your DNA could be ready for analysis and genome sequencing with the help of a new device.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130506132100.htm

    May 10, 2013 at 11:28 am |
  5. Patines

    That mosque is an insult not only to the American people, but also to those who are not muslims.

    April 26, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • Tom

      Way to stay current on an article from nearly two years ago...

      April 26, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
  6. clarity

    God will not be mocked. I live in America where we have freedom to practice our religions. Let the mosque be built.

    April 26, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
  7. .?

    .
    < :>

    B'H

    NEWS RELEASE: JERUSLAEM, ISRAEL
    18:16
    ReportedNews Brief
    9/3/2012, Elul 16, 5772

    MKs to Discuss 'Deterioration' of Relations With US

    MKs will meet next week to discuss Israel's current relationship with the United States. The special session will be held next Wednesday, and was called by Kadima MKs, to discuss “the drastic deterioration of relations between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Barack H. Obama

    THANK YOU FOR KEEPING MY NAME IN YOUR PLATORM.

    B"H

    PLEASE ASK THE CANDIDATE THE FOLLOWING QUESTION.

    JONATHAN POLLARD HAS SPENT ENOUGH TIME IN PRISON.

    IT IS TIME THAT HE IS PARDONED.

    WILL THE PRESIDENT PARDON JONTATHAN POLLARD ON

    THE PLATFORM OF HUMANITARIANISM

    WILL THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AGREE TO LET
    JONATHAN POLLARD GO BACK TO ISRAEL
    WITH HIS WIFE ESTER AND LIVE THEIR LIVES IN
    ISRAEL ONCE IF POSSIBLE THE PRESIDENT
    AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AGREE TO THIS.
    LET MY PEOPLE GO. PLEASE PARDON JONATHAN POLLARD
    MR. PRESIDENT.

    THE SPEECH THAT WAS MADE IN CAIRO
    THAT THE CURRENT PRESIDENT
    HUSSEIN OBAMA MADE IN EGYPT.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyBZhTaf1oU&w=640&h=390]

    DOES THE CURRENT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

    DOES HE AND THE REST OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE

    WANT THE TORAH?

    DO THEY WANT THE ISRAELITES, THE LEVIHIM AND THE KOHANIM AND DOES THE WORLD AND WILL YOU PLEASE
    ASK MR. ROMNEY, AND HIS CONVENTION THE FOLLOWING QUESTION.

    WE THE ISRAELITES, THE LEVIHIM AND THE KOHANIM
    WE WANT TO GET PERMISSION FROM THE WORLD TO
    BUILD THE 3RD TEMPLE.

    WE WANT TO ADVANCE THE EDUCATION TO THE WORLD
    THROUGH THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

    THE TEMPLE INSITUTE IN JERSUSALEM WILL HELP THE
    MINISTRY OF EDUCATION IN THE UNITED STATES WITH
    PERMISSION.

    MR. ROMNEY THE FOLLOWING QUESTION IS DIRECTED TO YOU.

    DO YOU MOURN THE DESTRUCTION OF THE SECOND TEMPLE AND WILL YOU ALLOW THE ISRAELITES, THE LEVIHIM AND THE KOHANIM TO SERVE HASHEM IN THE LAND

    B"H

    IMMEDIATE NEWS RELEASE

    PLEASE ASK THE CANDIDATE THE FOLLOWING QUESTION.
    JONATHAN POLLARD HAS SPENT ENOUGH TIME IN PRISON.
    IT IS TIME THAT HE IS PARDONED

    LET MY PEOPLE GO SENETOR HILLIARY CLINTON AND hussein OBAMA. LET JONATHAN POLLARD GO NOW
    LET MY PEOLE GO

    Rabbi Chaim Richman answers President Obama's Cairo speech

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyBZhTaf1oU&w=640&h=390]

    WORLD VS ISRAEL. HILLARY CLINTON-THIS IS A MESSAGE FOR YOU – LET MY PEOPLE GO. FREE JONATHAN POLLARD NOW. LET MY PEOPLE GO BARRAK HUSSEIN OBAMA – NOW!
    The Land of Israel is the Promised Land given to our forefathers Abraham Isaac and Jacob and is given to us, their seed, as an everlasting Inheritance.

    MAZEL TOV.

    MR. ROMNEY, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

    LET MY PEOPLE GO SENETOR HILLIARY CLINTON
    AND PRESIDENT OBAMA. LET JONATHAN POLLARD GO NOW
    LET JONATHAN POLLARD GO NOW.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyBZhTaf1oU&w=640&h=390]

    http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2012/07/29/sot-romney-blitzer-irsael.cnn

    NEWS RELEASE: JERUSLAEM, ISRAEL
    18:16
    ReportedNews Brief
    9/3/2012, Elul 16, 5772

    MKs to Discuss 'Deterioration' of Relations With US

    MKs will meet next week to discuss Israel's current relationship with the United States. The special session will be held next Wednesday, and was called by Kadima MKs, to discuss “the drastic deterioration of relations between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Barack H. Obama

    @Wolf Blitzer
    http://www.cnn.com
    http://www.cnn.com
    ....

    September 10, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  8. Joe Derringer

    This site is pure propaganda. Typical Muslim censored propaganda. Free speach does not exist when you have censord media like this.You are telling us you are special and know what is best for us. Clearly you do not! Your attempt to force your will on others will keep war a never ending dilema. People mistrust you now. Build your mosque and they will hate you!

    July 3, 2012 at 10:56 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.