September 10th, 2011
10:41 AM ET
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.
March 30th, 2011
02:11 PM ET
By Allan Chernoff, CNN Senior Correspondent
New York (CNN) – The wife of the former imam for a controversial Islamic cultural center says she and her husband are considering creating an interfaith cultural center in that facility, a surprising announcement in light of the recent rift between the center's owners and the activist couple.
Daisy Khan discussed the idea at a More Magazine luncheon Tuesday, saying the interfaith center could be housed at the Park51 site - controversial because of its proximity to ground zero, where the twin towers of the World Trade Center fell in the terrorist attacks of 9/11 - or at another location.
March 7th, 2011
01:00 PM ET
Editor's Note: CNN’s Soledad O’Brien chronicles the dramatic fight over the construction of a mosque in the heart of the Bible belt. “Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door”, airs Sunday, March 27 at 8 p.m. E.T.
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
Every day this week, American Muslim activists are working overtime to prepare for congressional hearings on "the radicalization of American Muslims" that open Thursday.
Sunday saw Muslim demonstrators gather in New York's rain-drenched Times Square to protest the hearings, standing with celebrities like Russell Simmons and other non-Muslims who held signs declaring "I am Muslim, too."
On Monday, representatives from the Council on American-Islamic Relations - a national Muslim advocacy group - met will sympathetic Capitol Hill staffers to discuss communications strategy and grassroots organizing to counter Islamophia.
On Tuesday, a coalition of major Muslim, interfaith and civil rights groups will announce a new campaign and website to push back against politicians and others they say are trafficking in anti-Muslim rhetoric.
And that's before the hearings even begin.
February 4th, 2011
04:06 PM ET
By Allan Chernoff, CNN
A Park51 imam announced his resignation Friday, just three weeks after being appointed to his post at the embattled Islamic community center in New York, according to a written statement Friday.
"I wish the project leaders well," said Imam Adhami, saying he needed more time to complete a book meant to assist English readers in understanding the Quran.
His resignation comes on the heels of a controversial post on his website, sakeenah.org, in which he claimed that "an enormously overwhelming percentage of people struggle with homosexual feeling because of some form of violent emotional or sexual abuse at some point in their life."
January 24th, 2011
05:00 AM ET
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
When the Anti-Defamation League - a leading Jewish group devoted to fighting anti-Semitism and "all forms of bigotry" - came out against the construction of an Islamic center and mosque near New York's ground zero last year, some critics alleged that the organization had lost its way.
"I would have expected the ADL to support the building of this Muslim community center," wrote Alan Dershowitz, an influential legal and Jewish voice. "...At the very least I would have expected it to remain silent and not to lend its powerful and distinguished voice to an opposition that includes many bigots."
Stephen Prothero, a prominent religion professor and CNN Belief Blog contributor, said the ADL's opposition to the Lower Manhattan Islamic center showed that the group and its leader, Abraham L. Foxman, "no longer occupy a moral high ground."
CNN host and Newsweek columnist Fareed Zakaria returned an award and honorarium he'd received a few years earlier from the ADL, saying he hoped the move would "spur them to... return to their historic, robust defense of freedom of religion in America."
But several months after the controversy over the New York Islamic center has died down, the Anti-Defamation League has quietly emerged as a leading advocate for mosque construction projects that have run into local opposition across the country.
December 26th, 2010
10:26 AM ET
The imam behind the controversial Islamic community center and mosque planned near the site of the September 11 attacks in New York will begin a nationwide speaking tour next month to promote the project and encourage interfaith dialogue, a spokeswoman said Friday.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has been at the center of a national firestorm over his proposal to build a high-rise community center and mosque two blocks north of ground zero, when the World Trade Center's twin towers stood before the 2001 airliner attacks.
"His speaking tour commences on January 15 in Detroit, and he will continue speaking throughout the year in about 12 different markets," Leyla Turkkan, the imam's spokeswoman, told CNN.
December 8th, 2010
03:04 PM ET
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.
November 22nd, 2010
02:40 PM ET
Editor's Note: By CNN Senior Correspondent Allan Chernoff in New York.
The developer behind the controversial Islamic community center and mosque planned for Lower Manhattan has requested federal funding through the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to support the project known as Park51.
The funding would come from money the Department of Housing and Urban Development allocated to help rebuild the neighborhood after the 9/11 attacks. "Park51 has applied for a Lower Manhattan Development Corporation grant," said Sharif El-Gamal, CEO of SOHO Properties, the developer behind the Islamic center.
In a statement, El-Gamal said the money would "in part fund social service programs such as domestic violence programs, Arabic and other foreign language classes, programs and services for homeless veterans, two multi-cultural art exhibits and immigration services."
November 9th, 2010
09:00 AM ET
Editor's Note: CNN's Ed Payne brings us this report.
American Christians, Muslims and those of other faiths are divided over what to do about a proposed Islamic community center near ground zero in New York, a new poll shows.
While some six in 10 Catholics and Mormons think another location should be found, less than a third of Muslims, other non-Christians and non-religious Americans feel the same way, according to the Gallup survey. Jewish Americans, Protestants and other Christians fell more in the middle.
No majority exists in any of the groups for building the center on the proposed location.
November 4th, 2010
05:09 PM ET
Retired Justice John Paul Stevens expressed support Thursday for a planned Islamic community center near the site of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York, urging religious and ethnic tolerance.
"American Muslims should enjoy the freedom to build their places of worship wherever permitted by local zoning laws," the retired Supreme Court jurist said at a luncheon where he was honored by the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation.
The 90-year-old said his experiences as a veteran of World War II, when the United States was fighting Japan, have given him insight over the years into the need to combat "invidious prejudice."
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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.