September 1st, 2010
12:44 PM ET

Imam behind Islamic center project returning to New York

The imam behind the controversial Park51 Islamic community center project is returning home after a State Department-sponsored tour in the Middle East, department spokesman Mark Toner said Wednesday.

Toner said Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf will leave the region on Thursday and be back in New York the same day.

This was his fourth outreach trip overseas for the State Department. In 2007, he made two similar trips to the Middle East for the Bush administration, and in January this year he traveled to Egypt, his first trip for the Obama administration.

Rauf needs about $100 million to build an Islamic community center and mosque two blocks from ground zero in Manhattan, where al Qaeda, the Islamist militant group, attacked the World Trade Center in 2001.

The project has stirred a national controversy over religious freedom, with opponents of the project saying it would be inappropriate to erect an Islamic center and mosque so close to an area where the attack took place. The imam and supporters of the facility say Park51 would counter al Qaeda and promote the kind of religious tolerance the radicals abhor.

The State Department said the 15-day trip, which included rabbis, priests and other religious figures, focused on outreach to Muslim countries.

State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley said last month that the imam would be in the region "to promote a kind of international dialogue" and has been told not to get involved in personal business, such as fund-raising - a fear many of his critics have. Crowley said he agreed to that.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Houses of worship • Islam • Leaders • Mosque • Muslim

soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Ferdinand of Castille

    Poor Westerners! They think they can compromise with Islam. Feel sorry for you guys. I am glad Tony Blair has at least realized that the danger is not terrorism but radical islam. This Rauf guy is taking all the religious leaders in his retinue for a ride. Poor Westerners!!

    September 4, 2010 at 3:48 am |
    • Kate

      That would be the same Tony Blair who decided that going into Iraq was God's Will while he pretended to be a protestant while in office but really was converting to Catholicism which he did officially the moment he was replaced as Prime Minister?

      The same Tony Blair who led the UK into becoming the biggest surveillance state on the planet where local councils could spy on you using anti-terrorism laws to see if you were letting your dog mess in the park and not clean it up?

      Way to go on role models!

      Just sayin'

      September 4, 2010 at 3:52 am |
    • Jibril

      Yes Kate, very same guy. Why are you people so scared of surveillance ? I mean, if you're not upto shady stuff, why the guilt and the fear ?

      Just observin'

      September 6, 2010 at 2:45 pm |
    • Kate


      If you don't know what the fourth and fifth amendments are about, that's your problem.

      You're one of those control freaks who thinks everyone is guilty, and has to prove their innocence. Thankfully, in a free country, the opposite holds true – innocent unless proven guilty.

      September 6, 2010 at 9:12 pm |
  2. freedomyes

    One of the things that everyone should be aware of is that islam is actually political. When this imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said this mosque issue is made political in the US he is only pulling wool over the citizens eyes. Look at all the places that islam is prominent in this world saudi a, qatar, uae, pakistan etc there is no difference between islam the religion & islam the politics, its the same. So we should beware and deal with it like we dealt with the nazi & communism. islam was started in the deserts of the arabia & was originated to bring law between different clans & tribes. Which is still followed to this day, sharia law.

    September 4, 2010 at 3:36 am |
  3. C.L.

    I'm don't mind them building their mosque near ground zero, if they don't mind us putting a fence around it complete with military guards and a sign reading "Ground Zero Internment Camp #1! Think of it as a living monument to those who were murdered my muslims on 9/11.

    September 4, 2010 at 12:04 am |
  4. Drspiderman

    The imam behind the proposed Islamic center near ground zero visits the Middle East-T.here are more than a million Hindus working in SAUDI ARABIA. Do you allow us to build a HINDU TEMBLE near MAKKAH. i do not think so. if muslims are tolerant let them build a hindu temble in saudi arabia for the hindus working there .( i know it is never going to happen.) let muslims treat others in the same way they wanted to be treated...

    September 3, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
    • Kate


      This is America, not KSA. Your theory is that because other parts of the world don't have a first amendment, we shouldn't either until they do? How peculiar – the American way is to be as bad as everyone else. Who'da thunk it?

      Just wonderin'

      September 3, 2010 at 7:02 pm |
    • freedomyes

      >Kate, I totally agree with you on the first amendment. But its being abused by some people like the some muslims. So, its important to protect it & stand up for it cause its a privilege. If not, our children will be under KSA rules.

      September 4, 2010 at 3:28 am |
  5. lore mae lacida-andong

    i am a news reporter in the philippines, particularly in cotabato city, a moslem-dominated part of the country. opposing the erection of a mosque near ground-zero is just simply saying that people against it are violating the four essentials of human freedom, initiated by former u.s. president franklyn roosevelt and that is the freedom of a person to exercise his/her religion or beliefs anywhere around the world.

    September 3, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
    • Jibril

      What if the "freedom of religion" for some people involves "freedom to do terrorism" ? How much would you like to tolerate that ?

      September 6, 2010 at 2:41 pm |
  6. BALDWIN203

    Quite frankly, it disgusts me to think of a mosque almost next-door to ground zero. One can argue "American" muslims are not like the extremist born and raised in the middle east...which is very true. I believe that muslim, jews, christians and perhaps even athiests died September 11th....if the government and the state wants the mosque there, it shall be done, point blank period. There will be many un-happy people either way this one goes...and we can't do a damn thing about it, but deal with it when it comes. GOD BLESS AMERICA.

    September 3, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
    • Jibril

      They smirk at your disgust. They exult at your despair. Such is the religion of peace.

      September 6, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
  7. c8h12n4o3

    What about all the Jewish places of worship around the U.S.??? They killed jesus? Oh...and all the other christain religions that murder people because they didn't believe....and don't get me started on the Mormons...They dressed up like American Indians, slaughtered a wagon train headed to California, blaimed in on the Indians and then had the U.S. government slaughter the accused tribe. Isalm is the least of our worries.

    September 2, 2010 at 12:51 pm |
    • Jibril

      Those were big worries, I don't know, hundreds of years ago ! Right now we all know what the biggest worry is – just read the latest headdlines for suicide bombing/beheading/stoning.

      September 6, 2010 at 2:38 pm |
  8. rob s

    so? what. No muslims died in that tower? Skinheads must love this.

    September 2, 2010 at 1:56 am |
  9. AGA


    Please visit this site to get a better understanding of what Islam really is.

    Cheers! 🙂

    September 2, 2010 at 1:00 am |
    • Jibril

      I found another site called http://www.stopislam.org and it refutes everything in your site – so which are we to believe ?

      September 6, 2010 at 2:36 pm |
  10. JD

    The issue with Mosque should not be so great. Let us not forget the muslins have let the christians, catholics and jews back into muslim holy cities even after the crusades to worship. Why should we tell them know they can't have a mosque near the trade center.... it is very probable they lost people in 9/11. Remember do unto others as they do unto you.... this is the land of the free... why did we come in the first place?? Makes you think.

    September 1, 2010 at 11:31 pm |
    • Kate


      Therein lies the rub and the old saw – you can lead a fundamentalist to water, but you can't make him think.

      Just sayin'

      September 2, 2010 at 12:33 pm |
    • Jibril

      Wow, "JD" and "Kate" are lecturing us about "fundamentalists"

      Just takin' the cakin' 😉

      September 6, 2010 at 2:35 pm |
  11. Fizzbomb

    For those Christians opposed to Park51, some have apparently forgotten how to "Do unto others..."

    September 1, 2010 at 11:02 pm |
    • Reality

      The Golden Rule applies to all, not just Christians.

      Some history:

      The Golden Rule or ethic of reciprocity is an ethical code, or a morality[2], that states (in any of four forms, see table below) the following:

      1.One should treat others according to how one would like others to treat one's self (positive, passive form)
      2.Treat others as you would like to be treated (positive, active form)
      3.One should not treat others in ways one would not like to be treated (prohibitive, passive form)
      4.Do not treat others in ways you would not like to be treated (prohibitive, active form. Also called the Silver Rule)

      The Golden Rule has a long history, and a great number of prominent religious figures and philosophers have restated the above four forms of the Rule in various ways.

      The Golden Rule is arguably the most essential basis for the modern concept of human rights, in which each individual has a right to just treatment, and a responsibility to ensure justice for others.[3] A key element of the Golden Rule is that a person attempting to live by this rule treats all people, not just members of his or her in-group, with consideration. The Golden Rule has its roots in a wide range of world cultures, and is a standard which different cultures use to resolve conflicts.[4]

      The Golden Rule, as a concept, has a history that long predates the term "Golden Rule" (or "Golden law," as it was called from the 1670s[5]). The concept was present in certain forms in the philosophies of ancient Babylon, Egypt, India, Greece, Judea, and China. Principal philosophers and religious figures have stated it in different ways, but its most common Modern English phrasing first appeared in a Catholic catechism around 1567 (certainly in the reprint of 1583[6]): That English phrasing is a translation of ancient Greek manuscripts; and in the original Greek it is attributed to Jesus of Nazareth in the Biblical book of Matthew: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." (Matthew 7:12, Matthew 22:39, Luke 6:31)

      September 1, 2010 at 11:33 pm |
    • Mike

      Christians do not, or at least should not, follow the prohibited golden rule but the positive pro-active one. Matthew 7:12

      September 2, 2010 at 8:33 am |
    • Jibril

      Let me translate Fizzy's remarks for you : " If you won't turn the other cheek like your religion says, how can I behead you ? This is unfair"

      September 6, 2010 at 2:33 pm |
  12. Don't need it

    If this Mosque takes place, Obama is looking at more then thousands of riots starting, which could and might leave to a civil war. Yes, it is a very deadly theory but think about it, it's like a stab to the people who lost a loved one on that tragic day.

    September 1, 2010 at 10:36 pm |
    • AGA

      My friend you are highly mistaken and frankly I feel sorry for your thoughts on the matter. Muslims were struck on 9/11 just like all other Americans.

      September 2, 2010 at 1:03 am |
    • Fast Eddie

      @Don't need it
      It's not a stab that I'd like to give all those clueless tucks that think civil war is justifiable because of a PERCEIVED rudeness.
      You need a serious A55-kickin to dislodge your head from where it has become stuck.

      September 2, 2010 at 11:46 am |
    • Jibril

      Fast Eddie wants to start the violence right away – three cheers for the religion of peace

      September 6, 2010 at 2:32 pm |
    • Kate


      Don't you have a bridge to crawl under, oh troll? Fast Eddie's an atheist, you moron.

      So much for the religion of IQ 😛

      September 6, 2010 at 9:13 pm |
  13. Mami

    When he travels away, we hear about it. When he comes back, we hear about it. If he says something we hear about it.
    Now he will meet with someone and we will hear about that, too. What's not to like?

    September 1, 2010 at 8:06 pm |
    • Jibril

      The only thing we won't hear is where the blood money to build the Ground Zero mosque is coming from

      September 6, 2010 at 2:30 pm |
  14. Reality

    Mosques are simply cr-ack houses for dispensing the dru-gs of hate and ho-rror
    from the passages in the Koran that demand male Muslim control of the world
    by any method. There is no US Consti-tution amendment that gives protection
    to anyone or any structure dispensing illegal drugs in any form.

    This mosque-dispensing hate is highlighted by testimony before Congress that
    80% of mosques in the USA have been radicalized. Added proof is the recent
    closing of the mosque in Germany where the horror of 9/11 was planned as
    recent evidence showed that this terror den was still harboring Muslims
    planning added attacks against all infidels.

    September 1, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
  15. Reality

    Mosques are simply crack houses for dispensing the drugs of hate and horror
    from the passages in the koran that demand male Muslim control of the world
    by any method. There is no US Constitution amendment that gives protection
    to anyone or any structure dispensing illegal drugs in any form.

    This mosque-dispensing hate is highlighted by testimony before Congress that
    80% of mosques in the USA have been radicalized. Added proof is the recent
    closing of the mosque in Germany where the horror of 9/11 was planned as
    recent evidence showed that this terror den was still harboring Muslims
    planning added attacks against all infidels.

    September 1, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
  16. steve

    If only Rauf would denounce Hamas and other orgs as terrorist orgs. He refuses to do that. He is backed by CAIR, which was created by the Muslim brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood is dedicated to the overthrow of the US government and making Sharia the law of the land in the US. Google the Muslim Brotherhood and you'll see. It's all there.

    September 1, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
    • Erky

      Dude, the United States has a 0.6% muslim population. Put down the cool-aid the media is feeding you, Sharia law isn't coming any time soon. With a population that small, how the hell would they enforce it. What nonsense.

      September 1, 2010 at 4:53 pm |
  17. TigardTom

    If this Islamic center is needed by the State Department for some diplomatic thingy, then we might as well lay back and let it happen. I support our State Department, even though I might look askance at some of the things they do.

    September 1, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
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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.