September 8th, 2010
11:20 PM ET

5 surprises from Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s CNN interview

Five big surprises from Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s interview with CNN’s Soledad O’Brien on Wednesday night:

1. Rauf regrets locating the Islamic center near ground zero. “If I knew that this would happen, cause this kind of pain,” he said Wednesday night, “I wouldn’t have done it.”

2. Rauf says the reason he can’t move the Islamic center now is because of national security concerns, saying parts of the Muslim world would be violently inflamed at the news of the center’s relocation.

“The headlines in the Muslim world will be that Islam is under attack… (there’s) the danger of the radicals in the Muslim world to our national security, to the national security of our troops,” he said.

“If we do move,” Rauf continued, “it will strengthen the argument of the radicals to recruit, their ability to recruit, and their increasing aggression and violence against our country.”

"If this is not handled correctly, this crisis could become much bigger than the Danish cartoon crisis, which resulted in attacks on Danish embassies in various parts of the Muslim world,” Rauf said later. “…. If we don't handle this crisis correctly it could become something which could really become very, very, very dangerous indeed.”

It's a novel argument and was Rauf's central point tonight. Will most Americans buy it?

3. When news first broke about the proposed Islamic center near ground zero last December, there was no controversy around it.

“It was a front-page article in New York Times," Rauf told CNN, “and no one objected. This controversy only began in May, and it began as a result of some politicians who decided to use this for certain political purposes.”

I didn't know that.

4. The New York Islamic Center will include a memorial for those killed in the 9/11 attacks.

The Islamic center had announced this earlier, but I doubt most Americans knew about it.

5. Despite the raging controversy, Rauf sees the current moment as a historic opportunity for Muslims to think about their place in the United States and for the country to think about religious freedom.

There’s “a silver lining here,” he said. “It gives us an opportunity to speak about this subject in a manner that is sober, in a manner that is coherent. To look at what we are all about as Americans, to look at what it means to be Muslim in America. To look at how we are going to put back this genie of clash between the West and the Muslim world back into the bottle.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

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

soundoff (583 Responses)
  1. steve

    i'm really getting tired of these smiling terrorists !

    September 9, 2010 at 7:41 am |
  2. The Seventy Percent

    The MAJORITY of the Americans who oppose the "ground zero mosque" also admit to prejudice against Muslims, say Muslims should not sit on the Supreme Court, and would oppose a mosque being built two blocks from their home. The 70% figure that keeps getting quoted is meaningless. Normally one expects a poll to sample enogh people that they will balance out each other's biases. These polls are biased samples. Their results are not surprising. They are predictable. The only surprise is how many Americans are prejudiced against Muslims / Islam.

    September 9, 2010 at 7:37 am |
  3. LiberalNN

    This imam is a lying terrorist loving sack of crap.

    September 9, 2010 at 7:32 am |
  4. katheen

    does the majority rule here?
    i'm sensitive!

    September 9, 2010 at 7:28 am |
  5. katheen

    excuse me
    i am sensitive

    September 9, 2010 at 7:26 am |
  6. Scot

    I would like to make two points.

    1. Most people keep taking about the mosque, a building. Who remembers what the Imam said about our freedoms and the Constitution?

    2. Solidad was doing her job, creating controversy. Emphasizing anomalies (small, unusual, radical occurrences) is the bread and butter of the media. They don't write about the millions of drivers who have an accident free day. They only write about the accidents and sorrow. Why? You figure it out. The media, American and foreign, are radical. They create disharmony to create profit. Does Hamas fund our media?

    September 9, 2010 at 7:24 am |
  7. Men and their egos

    Soledad did a great job. She is just being insulted by bloggers because she is not a male! Of course all the bloggers are critical of her because they are men and testosterone driven and Muslim? She just beat him at his own game. HA

    September 9, 2010 at 7:24 am |
  8. worriedtx

    I'm damn tired to accommodating Muslims in America. What the hell are we thinking allowing them to call the shots? They're going to try and screw us with our own laws.

    September 9, 2010 at 7:13 am |
  9. Religion = Out of control Egos

    While everyone gets worked into a frenzy and lathered up in the emotional fight of us and them...the powers that be (bildenbergs, or whomever) are setting the stage for a nice little nuke drop...somewhere....because we all know what this is truly about, too many people and too few resources. That's all. The banks were kept afloat just like everything else, just to keep a lid on this powder keg. They need a little time because they are still getting the logistics down. After it's done, a big sigh of relief will go up because everyone that is left will be happy because they are still here. The tipping point of our little orb arrived before the powers that be could devise a way of targeting specific peoples. It just became way too complicated and so I guess it is just "to h- with it." I still haven't figured out what the heck Bush and Cheney were up to since they had to know where this was all headed. Just know I won't be one of the 77 virgins greeting any whacky, dog haters on the other side.

    September 9, 2010 at 7:06 am |
  10. dave Richman

    I was very interested to see the Imam speak. The whole problem for Americans is based on fear and mistrust. After listening to him speak, I am less fearful and less distrustful.

    September 9, 2010 at 7:04 am |
    • John

      You're a fool. He has succeeded in deceiving you. That is how they slowly integrate themselves into societies, by lying about their true intentions. Learn more here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lUhlvFjXOQ

      September 9, 2010 at 7:16 am |
  11. Dimitri Synchovic

    Two Wars, Worldwide Economic Disasters. A billion people starving or Malnourished. And the issue in hot debate is regarding the building of a religious center – and its location. Welcome to Polarization, where the only issue's discussed are the ones that rally you around your base. Where Keith Blbermann and Bill O'Reilly make millions by having you detest your Neighbor. Where the News consists of a few minutes of top stories... Bank disaster here, Pakistan flood there, followed by 30 minutes on who the latest blond attractive missing person is..... Welcome to our Idiocracy.

    September 9, 2010 at 7:01 am |
  12. Americans have become wussies

    You americans are stupid. How long will we be intimdated by cave dwelling low lifes that destroy our lives and existance?
    How long we will let these animals get away with what theyget away with? They know nothing about peace and harmony and neverhave known anything about peace and harmony. It is not part of their lifestyle; because that violence has always been imbreaded and programmed into them. Are we going to stand up and fight for our justice? I don't pledge allegiance anymore or sing god bless america. How can god bless america with all the sin running rampant?

    September 9, 2010 at 7:00 am |
  13. John

    These ragheads are moving in everywhere. In no time they will control more of the landscape; more and more are getting into politics. Soon they will control everything, and when they do, BEWARE infidels. You will then learn that there are no moderate muslims. You see it in their countries today; everyone says the radicals make all the noise, yet in their countries you NEVER hear of a "moderate" muslim trying to tame the radicals. How come not everyone understands that???

    September 9, 2010 at 6:59 am |
  14. Cleveland Steve

    Nuke Em. Nuke All of Them! Now!

    September 9, 2010 at 6:56 am |
  15. I am disgusted, discouraged and fed up with th wussies of the usa

    Us americans are stupid wimps; letting us get intimidated and pressured by cave dwelling smelly sucking turds. How long will we be pushed around. I say make a statement here. Our men and women are over there for a cause that they shouldn't be. So, burn burn burn baby burn the koran bigtime. Let us tell the world we have had it with the b.s. that is constantly going on.
    The slime sucking animals know nothing about peace and harmony and never will. Their goal is to destroy americans and the world and the takeover of it. They have inbreaded, programmed, and trained violence into their offspring as young as 3 months old and older. They can't stop. It is a sickness that spreads like cancer never stopping.

    We have to do things for our country and in vain so be it, knowing we fought the good fight of faith and justice. We will not take it anymore.

    September 9, 2010 at 6:55 am |
  16. alien

    Seriously the muslims are the ones who need a lesson on tolerance. This imam would do a lot of good if he campaigned for the rights of Christians in Islamic world. As we speak be found with a bible in Saudi Arabia is a crime. How about building a church in Mecca and see how tolerant the muslims really are

    September 9, 2010 at 6:54 am |
  17. Regularguy

    After hearing all the talk and media-hype about how peace-loving Muslims are; I am confused as to why the Imam is worried about violence if the center is moved. Thisis the typical doudle talk I have gotten so sick of.

    September 9, 2010 at 6:51 am |
  18. worriedtx

    The Muslin world would be violently inflamed due to a relocation? How insensitive of them! They would be violently inflamed because they would lose their CONQUEST!

    September 9, 2010 at 6:49 am |
  19. I am disgusted, discouraged and fed up with th wussies of the usa

    You slime sucking animal pigs. You live, breathe, exist caves. You have never known or know nothing about peace and harmony. You never have and never will. You co-exist with violence all your lives. You were born, nutured, and programmed into it. And us stupid americans sit bck and let you intimidate us, and do nothing. You manipulate, walk over and bribe us with your lying, slmy ways. You get away with things in airports that us americans can't, you get away with things at the local walmart that us americans can't. Why aren't us americans fighting, sticking up, and defending oursleves?

    Can I do that to to you american people. That should be easy, since you let these pieces of garbage do that to you. What is it going to take.

    I refuse to sing god bless america, or pledge allegiance any more. God willnot bless america with all the sin running rampant. Plus, our men and women should not be over there in a country full of hatred. So, since they are let it be known that they will have to suffer for us stupid americans who didn't do what they should have done a long t ime ago. Nuke the whole country of Iran and their offspring and we wouldn't be looking at what we are looking at today.

    Burn the Koran and keep on burning it, maybe theyw ill get the point that you can't push us around anymore and we will do what we have to do.

    September 9, 2010 at 6:48 am |
  20. Religion = Out of control Egos

    My god's bigger than your god. My god's bigger than your god. God is only on my side. God doesn't even recognize you because he only talks to me. God is mine, all mine and only mine. No one else counts because God told me so.

    September 9, 2010 at 6:37 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.