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. Anna 1953

    "They", "they", "they", "they", "they" - I am SO SICK of that word!!!
    The billion Moslems in the world are a billion different individual human beings!!!!!

    September 9, 2010 at 8:39 am |
  2. DounSouthAmericanBoy

    It is popular to use half a statement nowdays... The full statement is "One Nation, Under """GOD""", Indivisible, With Liberty & Justice For All" No where does it say "One nation under ahlla (or however you spell it... I don' t care)"... I hope someone runs a herd of pigs through the whole 9/11 site... that will put an end to all of this nonsense!!!! Oink!

    September 9, 2010 at 8:33 am |
  3. logan

    this Imam is saying he won't move this center because it will threaten national security? someone should tell this so-called American that the United States of America does NOT negotiate with terrorists......this guy is a nut job – the more he talks, the more he proves he is wacked.

    September 9, 2010 at 8:33 am |
  4. foryouropinion

    i did not watch the interview. . . the reason being that I am not sensitive to the Muslim viewpoint. I don't know anyone who feels that a mosque should be built near the 9/11 site. It is a sacred area for Americans. Who cares if it makes Muslims angry? I am far more concerned about Americans who lost loved ones in the massacre. And I am also far more concerned about my country not becoming so homogenized that I don't recognize where I am living anymore. The melting pot is boiling over with the addition of a culture that clashes with our Judeo/Christian beliefs. They should relocate out of America and Europe as they are too different.

    September 9, 2010 at 8:33 am |
  5. Anna 1953

    To "Both Sides":
    You are referring to the OLD TESTAMENT - re killing adulterers.
    The NEW TESTAMENT (Christian) - quotes Jesus saying to a group of men who are preparing to stone a female who had committed adultery: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone!" All the men eventually dropped their stones, and walked away.

    To lots of others:
    I actually turned off the TV after 45 minutes, I was so disgusted with Soledad. I was really surprised by her behavior! She is always so "soft" and "gentle" in her interviews, and her eyes are always shining with compassion. In this interview, when it first began, I saw her eyes were hard as ice, and I wondered, "What the heck is going on?" Larry King should have done the interview (I think).

    At the same time, I thought that the Imam repeatedly referring to "national security" as a reason to keep the Community Center where it is planned was disingeneous. I've been in favor of letting the center be built as planned. But when he brought that up,
    I felt very angry, and thought, "To heck with that! Build it somewhere else, and let's see what happens!"

    September 9, 2010 at 8:31 am |
  6. jhuyzinga

    You are offended by God's house but not by the two strip joints? 9-11 people, your credibility is in the tank. We mourn your loss, but that doesn't excuse your anti-Muslim bias nor does it give you the right to tell anybody where to build their house of worship or how to build it. If God's house offends you, maybe you are the one who needs to relocate. Do ya think?

    September 9, 2010 at 8:31 am |
  7. Mrs. Tiger Woods

    What's the old saying? -

    "Move it or lose it."

    September 9, 2010 at 8:30 am |
  8. Ferd

    This entire thing is nonsense. I live in NY and I can tell you that nobody has asked me or anyone I know about what they think. Nobody I know has a problem with the mosque being near ground zero. Furthermore, although I and the poeple I associate with understand all to well what happened on 9/11, and don't discount it one iota, we do not see it as hallowed ground. It is simply another location, of another tragedy. That's it. And as long as we allow ourselves to be held hostage by some warped sense of oversignificance, Al Quaeda will continue to victimize us every single day.

    Let them build a mosque, church, synagouge or whatever else they want there. I mean lets be serious. The Imam is right. These loudmouths have their nerve to complain about a mosque but the strip club is A OK? The whole opposition to this is politically motivated, pathetic, and shameful. IN MY OPINION.

    September 9, 2010 at 8:29 am |
  9. George Bush

    Mission Accomplished!

    September 9, 2010 at 8:27 am |
  10. John

    We were attacked by the Taliban, not by Muslims. Those Taliban members happened to also be Muslims. Adolf Hitler was a Christian, does that mean all Christians kill Jewish people? Timothy McViegh was from Kansas, does that mean that all people from Kansas blow up federal buildings? We should not feel fear from any religion. However, there are extremists of all religions, just like the idiot in Florida that wants to fight terrorism by acting as a terrorist and burning the valued book of the people that he does not understand. Clansman and skinheads operate under the fact that they seek guidance from the Bible. The LRA in Uganda have practiced rape and slaughter of hundreds of people annually for the past 25 or so years in and around NW Uganda in the name of Christianity. Should we also ban Christian churches? Why do we let fear win?

    September 9, 2010 at 8:25 am |
    • Cheryl in Canada

      I like what you have to say. It seems from the news reports we see up here that there always has to be an enemy against America. It used to be the Russians/Communists, prior to that it was the blacks, its now the Muslims. Keep us posted on the next enemy of America.

      September 10, 2010 at 11:04 am |
  11. Terry G

    It's amazing how some retards here dont have a problem with these clowns building a mosque on ground zero. Let some American dream of building a church right in the heart of one of their countries and see how they react to that. This is a slap right on the face of America and they are telling us we can do nothing about it. Dont tell me some bull crap that this Imam never knew the kind of storm all these would have generated......again one of their lies. The bottom line is they can't be trusted, people seem to forget that so soon. Get it into your thick skulls you morons supporting these mosques, especially the Christians, this will not STOP them or their radicals from carrying out another attack on Americans if they have the chance. So stop being so scared!!!!!!

    September 9, 2010 at 8:25 am |
  12. logan

    this Imam is saying he won't move this center because it will threaten national security? someone should tell this so-called American that the United States of America does NOT negotiate with terrorists......this guy is a nut job – the more he talks, the more he proves he is wacked.

    September 9, 2010 at 8:24 am |
  13. peacemaker

    How about a trade? Move the Ground Zero mosque and the Holy Korans will not be moved.

    September 9, 2010 at 8:21 am |
  14. Paul A. Sudduth II

    If I may make a prediction for you...

    If the Islamic center is built at the proposed site... someone WILL blow it up.

    I pray to God this does not escalate further.

    September 9, 2010 at 8:18 am |
  15. frogman

    One problem here in America is that we have a lot of stupid uniformed people who believe that their ignorant uniformed opinion is a valid as the opinion of a reasoned informed person. Take the jerk who wrote here recently that the United States has killed "millions' of innocent Iraqis". Millions? This guy is totally uniformed and has whipped himself up into a fit of indignation based on his failure to do his homework. If he had he would know that we have killed thousands of Iraqis not millions and that most of the innocent Iraqis killed have been killed by other muslims. He would also know that when muslims aren't busy killing innocent Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and other "unbelievers" they kill each other. Killing is the muslim international sport. Killing the innocent only outrages muslims if it isn't done by another muslim.

    September 9, 2010 at 8:16 am |
  16. Libralee

    OMG! This sounds more like a threat than anything else! He's afraid there will be "global ramifications" from Muslims if he doesn't build the mosque in that particular spot??????????????? He doesn't care how he has upset the majority of Americans by building on this spot but WE should be afraid of ramifications from Muslims if he doesn't build on this spot??????? And there are actually Americans supporting this radical????????????????? Unbelievable!

    September 9, 2010 at 8:06 am |
  17. 2xIraq_Vet

    Moving the mosque would inflame the Muslim world? The Muslim world is already inflamed. That's why 9/11 happened in the first place. Allahu Akbar was on the lips of these villians, and now we want to build a mosque at the crime scene so they can say allahu akbar and other jihad oldies with impunity? America–grow a backbone and tell the Imam to build his mosque elsewhere. Try Alaska, now that Sarah Palin quit her job up there.

    September 9, 2010 at 8:05 am |
  18. medicwhite

    So what is Rauf's view of the FL pastor planning to burn the Quran? Does he stand up for his legal right to do so, no matter how distasteful? I think the Christian has the same rights as the Muslim in this country. Rauf threatens the US with uprising from the Muslims if the mosque is moved to apease the Americans, but Islam expects the American to give up his rights to apease the Muslims.
    He wants to "look at what it means to be Muslim in America"? I don't think it means anything more than being a Christian (Jew, Buddist, Hindu, etc).

    September 9, 2010 at 8:04 am |
  19. dyaun

    I am flabbergasted that so many people think Soledad O’Brien's interview was "biased" or question her ability as an interviewer. As a journalist, it is her duty to ask questions that request straight and revealing answers. Otherwise the interview is useless. It's up to us to understand what the response is. Why is so wrong to ask something that is controversial? Is that so bad? I personally think this was a great interview and also very revealing as to what Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s opinions really are. I applaud Soledad for her interview and congratulate her for uncovering the tip of the iceberg of what Abdul is truly thinking. Thank you Soledad. Please keep up the good work.

    To the producers of CNN, please do not let those that disagree with her approach, silence her style.

    September 9, 2010 at 7:50 am |
  20. zoomer

    well let's build a christian church in every city in every Muslim country and then we will let you build your petty little
    mosque. and no retribution to the christians . muslums are nothing but godless heatherns that don't care about
    anybody but themselves.what's next Obama and clinton are we going to make our women wear burques.

    September 9, 2010 at 7:46 am |
    • a guy

      but isn't the point that America is GREATER than those intolerant muslim countries because we DO allow people of any faith to worship as they see fit? shouldn't we hold ourselves to a higher standard than Saudi Arabia and Iran?

      September 9, 2010 at 8:21 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.