September 20th, 2010
03:54 PM ET

Imam behind NYC Islamic center avoiding New York, getting protection over security concerns

The imam behind the proposed Islamic center and mosque near ground zero is largely avoiding New York City because of security concerns and is receiving protection from the New York Police Department, according to those close to the imam.

Video: Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf explains why his organization has chosen to build an Islamic Center so close to ground zero.

"There's just a lot of crazies and that's why he has police protection from the NYPD," the Rev. James Parks Morton said Monday of his friend Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.

"I know that he's being guarded, that he's not been staying in the usual places, that he's not working from his office and that he's concerned for his safety," said another friend of the imam's, Rabbi J. Rolando Matalon, in an interview Sunday night.

"He's staying in an undisclosed location, as they call it," said Matalon, a rabbi at B'nai Jeshurun on New York's Upper West Side.

The New York City Police Department did not respond to requests for comment.

Asked whether the FBI was investigating threats against Rauf, New York field office spokesman Bob Margolin declined to comment.

A media representative for Rauf, Seth Faison, would not comment on any security concerns.

Morton, former dean of New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine, said the imam was mostly avoiding New York, where he typically works, since returning from a State Department trip to the Middle East two weeks ago.

Morton has known Rauf and his family since the 1960s and works in the same office building as Rauf on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

Rauf did not attend a Monday morning press conference at Park51, the site of the proposed Islamic center. Zaheer Uddin, Executive Director of the Islamic Leadership Council of New York, said security concerns kept the imam away.

Another Rauf associate, the Rev. Chloe Breyer, said the imam skipped a New York board meeting of her group, the Interfaith Center of New York, on Thursday. Rauf is a vice chair on center's board.

"He is laying low," Breyer, an Episcopal priest, said of Rauf Monday. "He isn't coming into New York."

Rauf was traveling in the Middle East on a U.S. State Department sponsored trip for much of August, returning to the U.S. on September 5.

Video: Former President Jimmy Carter says the controversial Islamic center should be built

He appeared at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York last Monday for a speech and question-and-answer session about the controversy over his proposed Islamic center.

Saying America has let extremists "hijack the agenda," the imam said at the forum that he wants to create a platform where the voice of moderate Muslims can be amplified.

"We come together at a time of great crisis and danger," he said. "What began as a dispute over a community center in lower Manhattan has spawned and grown into a much larger controversy about the relationship between my beloved religion and my beloved country, between Islam and America."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Houses of worship • Islam • Mosque • New York • United States

soundoff (784 Responses)
  1. frogman

    I wonder if NYC will send this imam a bill for increased security costs like they did the crazy pastor. Or do we have a double standard in America?

    September 21, 2010 at 8:27 am |
  2. No way Joe

    Anti-American dypshyt.

    September 21, 2010 at 8:23 am |
  3. Historian

    Why is tolerance a one way street? How about a church of synagogue in Mecca or Medina? Korans a plenty here but try and find a bible in Saudi Arabia. Turnabout is fair play.

    September 21, 2010 at 8:22 am |
  4. sameeker

    What is wrong with the posting today?

    September 21, 2010 at 8:20 am |
  5. Shannon

    I guess he didn't take Trumps offer.... And now he's in hiding.... You know where this is going folks... Imam is just a man in disguise and wants muslim to invade America or otherwise it will make the extremist mad...

    OOOOOO!!! Im scared Imam!!!! I have Jesus on my side...

    September 21, 2010 at 8:12 am |
  6. demmiekrat

    Oh, yes, you need protection because precedent has shown that christians are terribly violent towards muslims – IN BIZARRO BACKWARDS WORLD!!

    September 21, 2010 at 7:55 am |
  7. Charlie

    Ahmed says: "The Quran hasn't been touched editorially since it was revealed to prophet Muhammed. Get your facts straight." I say, "Ahmed, your "facts" are all screwd up..! Every Mullah, Maulavi, Imam, since Muhammad, has interpreted Koran in his own way.., with total disregard to the so called "un-edited Koran" since Muhammad". And, that's a fact.

    September 21, 2010 at 7:50 am |
  8. Catie

    This is not about the right to have a friggen Mosque, its about where you are putting it. This Imam is hiding something, we are not idiots. He would have never even suggested a center on this site if it were about religious tolerence. Why has the church been denied a permit for rebuiding but this Imam gets a permit? Something stinks

    September 21, 2010 at 7:49 am |
  9. Jim

    Pumping the propaganda racism hard today. Hey, CNN?

    September 21, 2010 at 7:48 am |
  10. ghostway

    Did Jesus say to persecute people and hate on them? If you are a Christian you have no business hating on anyone. When you do you are persecuting Jesus.

    The last time Christ spoke in the New Testament it was to ask a hater, "Why are you persecuting me?"

    September 21, 2010 at 7:24 am |
  11. Khal

    I remember hearing a Sanskrit prayer: "Ishvarah, Allah tere nam." which roughly translates: "God, God is your name." Allah, Illah, Eli, God same reference [Elohim = gods]. God is God. An attempt to limit God misses the point, i.e., the God of so-and-so. If there is God, God is one. The problem is not "Who is God?" but sociocultural misunderstanding ... and there are multiple angles to that. Whoever makes the decision re: this center's location should have the sociocultural sensitivity to build it in a less socioculturally sensitive place ... so easy to acknowledge. At Ground Zero it will be a magnet for future ongoing trouble.

    September 21, 2010 at 6:58 am |
  12. crabman

    just another moron costing the taxpayers alot of money

    September 21, 2010 at 6:58 am |
  13. Muhamad

    Muslims pretend to be peaceful but have one goal and that is world domination through Islamization. Don't be fooled by their lies. Their religion encourages them to lie to fool the infidels. They are a plague on society.
    Islamization occurs when there are sufficient Muslims in a country to agitate for their so-called ‘religious rights.’
    When politically correct and culturally diverse societies agree to ‘the reasonable’ Muslim demands for their ‘religious rights,’ they also get the other components under the table. Here’s how it works (percentages source CIA: The World Fact Book (2007)).
    As long as the Muslim population remains around 1% of any given country they will be regarded as a peace-loving minority and not as a threat to anyone. In fact, they may be featured in articles and films, stereotyped for their colorful uniqueness:

    United States — Muslim 1.0%
    Australia — Muslim 1.5%
    Canada — Muslim 1.9%
    China — Muslim 1%-2%
    Italy — Muslim 1.5%
    Norway — Muslim 1.8%

    At 2% and 3% they begin to proselytize from other ethnic minorities and disaffected groups with major recruiting from the jails and among street gangs:

    Denmark — Muslim 2%
    Germany — Muslim 3.7%
    United Kingdom — Muslim 2.7%
    Spain — Muslim 4%
    Thailand — Muslim 4.6%

    From 5% on they exercise an inordinate influence in proportion to their percentage of the population.They will push for the introduction of halal (clean by Islamic standards) food, thereby securing food preparation jobs for Muslims. They will increase pressure on supermarket chains to feature it on their shelves — along with threats for failure to comply. ( United States ).

    France — Muslim 8%
    Philippines — Muslim 5%
    Sweden — Muslim 5%
    Switzerland — Muslim 4.3%
    The Netherlands — Muslim 5.5%
    Trinidad &Tobago — Muslim 5.8%

    At this point, they will work to get the ruling government to allow them to rule themselves under Sharia, the Islamic Law. The ultimate goal of Islam is not to convert the world but to establish Sharia law over the entire world.
    When Muslims reach 10% of the population, they will increase lawlessness as a means of complaint about their conditions ( Paris –car-burnings). Any non-Muslim action that offends Islam will result in uprisings and threats ( Amsterdam – Mohammed cartoons).

    Guyana — Muslim 10%
    India — Muslim 13.4%
    Israel — Muslim 16%
    Kenya — Muslim 10%
    Russia — Muslim 10-15%

    After reaching 20% expect hair-trigger rioting, jihad militia formations, sporadic killings and church and synagogue burning:

    Ethiopia — Muslim 32.8%

    At 40% you will find widespread massacres, chronic terror attacks and ongoing militia warfare:

    Bosnia — Muslim 40%
    Chad — Muslim 53.1%
    Lebanon — Muslim 59.7%

    From 60% you may expect unfettered persecution of non-believers and other religions, sporadic ethnic cleansing (genocide), use of Sharia Law as a weapon and Jizya, the tax placed on infidels:

    Albania — Muslim 70%
    Malaysia — Muslim 60.4%
    Qatar — Muslim 77.5%
    Sudan — Muslim 70%

    After 80% expect State run ethnic cleansing and genocide:

    Bangladesh — Muslim 83%
    Egypt — Muslim 90%
    Gaza — Muslim 98.7%
    Indonesia — Muslim 86.1%
    Iran — Muslim 98%
    Iraq — Muslim 97%
    Jordan — Muslim 92%
    Morocco — Muslim 98.7%
    Pakistan — Muslim 97%
    Palestine — Muslim 99%
    Syria — Muslim 90%
    Tajikistan — Muslim 90%
    Turkey — Muslim 99.8%
    United Arab Emirates — Muslim 96%

    100% will usher in the peace of ‘Dar-es-Salaam’ — the Islamic House of Peace — there’s (supposed) to be peace because everybody is a Muslim: we know however that this isnt true is it...?

    Afghanistan — Muslim 100%
    Saudi Arabia — Muslim 100%
    Somalia — Muslim 100%
    Yemen — Muslim 99.9%
    Of course, that’s not the case. To satisfy their blood lust, Muslims then start killing each other...

    September 21, 2010 at 6:32 am |
    • sagebrush shorty

      Excellent posting!
      Thank you.

      September 21, 2010 at 9:54 am |
    • Enigmatic1

      Very good research and nicely put too!!!

      September 21, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
    • darren

      I think you've conveniently forgot to mention the source of the posting – I've seen it several times before without any citations, ripped from some hate website. You are also ignoring the fact that in some countries like Malaysia and Indonesia (85-90% Muslim) there is no Sharia and no state-sanctioned ethnic cleansing. In fact, both of these countries are on investors' top 10 destinations list, with Malaysia currently implementing programs that will help it become a developed country by 2020. Singapore is also conveniently missing from your list, even though it is about 15% Muslim, and no tensions in sight. In Russia, the problem is political (separatist feelings in Chechnya), and both Muslims and Christians have been living side by side for centuries. In fact, one of the most peaceful regions there is Tatarstan, where mosques and churches stand next to each other. Nor could I find any evidence of ethnic cleansing in Bangladesh, India or Turkey (the latter being a member of NATO and a applicant for the European Union).

      September 21, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
    • Muneef

      @ to the can't be Muhamad, the number of Muslims in every nation that you pointed out might be correct, but the question here is, whether these numbers of Muslims are aware well about the teachings of Islam in the right way with out extremism ? Well can tell you that those are working hard in difficult and hard enviroments only to achieve their daily needs for bread and water and not concerned with politics or imposing their views on others. And those who were lucky enough to immigrate looking for a decent life and job as well not concerned with politics. Muslims in general if left alone with out your intervention might end up fighting each other due differences of views in the faith, but now if west keep on applying pressure and starvation, harassment and confrontation against Muslims and their faith will only lead them to leave behind their differences and confront their enemy that wants to deprive them from their rights of faith and belief and the more they are pressed the more they would complain by acts and not words since words and cries does not seem to work or heard now a days being their judges and excuters all non religious atheists, infidels,polytheists who consider vast interest and not humanity!?

      September 26, 2010 at 1:36 pm |
  14. Dennis

    How soon are they going to be allowed to build a church in Mecca? Oh,I forgot,acceptance and tolerance are to be given to Moslems,never received from them.

    September 21, 2010 at 6:28 am |
    • surprised

      Timothy McVeigh is to Catholicism as Terrorism is to Islam. The imam that wants to build the mosque and those who oppose it are on the same side..ie..against terrorists. While I understand the pain of 911 incidents, Mosque had nothing to do with it as Church had nothing to do with Oklahoma City Bombings. It is sad to see some comments here.

      September 21, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
    • Saladin

      Surprised – Sorry but there is a flaw in your logic. How is what Timothy McVeigh did connected to Catholicism? Wasn't his gripe with the government? His motivation, as twisted as it was, was rooted in his disdain for the Federal government and not rooted in trying to impose some religious belief through his actions.

      September 21, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  15. Jeff of Peoria

    The nutjobs have stirred themselves into a frenzy

    September 21, 2010 at 6:28 am |
  16. jhuyzinga

    If you believe yourself to be following Christ and you are persecuting and hating on other people, you took a wrong turn somewhere. Jesus never told us to persecute or hate anyone. He spent his life defending people from Bible-thumpers who despised them. The last time Christ spoke in the Bible was to a man who was making a career of persecuting people. He didn't ask him, Why are you persecuting these people? He said, Why are you persecuting ME?

    September 21, 2010 at 6:10 am |
  17. Brian

    You are in danger in more places than NY.

    September 21, 2010 at 5:21 am |
  18. Jawz

    Run like a little girl because I will EAT YOU 🙂

    September 21, 2010 at 5:08 am |
  19. jhuyzinga

    "The depiction of J.C. in the bible is that he is the son of God or God in the flesh however you wish to say it is fine. That being said the Quaran contracst by sayin J.C. is just another prophet. One of these books is misrepresenting J.C. cause you cannot have it both ways. "

    Your argument is a fail. The Doctrine of The Christ which the church has taught as the orthodox view for nearly 2000 years has it both ways, that he was fully human AND fully divine. Maybe you should know more about the Christian faith before launching an ugly Crusade against people who believe in the same God, including Jews who believe roughly the same thing about Jesus as Muslims do.

    September 21, 2010 at 5:08 am |
  20. jhuyzinga

    The Quran mentions Jesus over 25 times as God's divinely appointed messenger. Remember that the doctrine of the Trinity was not fully worked out till 300 years after the New Testament, and it says Jesus was both fully human AND fully divine. Very difficult concept. Prior to that most Christians just believed that Jesus was the Messiah, which is roughly what the Quran says. What the Quran says about Jesus is roughly what the average person thinks about Jesus today, Christian or non-Christian, including Baptists. The important thing is that you pattern your life on his, whether Jesus or Muhammad.
    It's what you DO that matters to God; not whether your ideas are exactly "correct."

    Besides that, isn't it OK if the man doesn't believe what you believe? Why does he have to fear for his life? Why are people "offended" by a house of worship or people praying to God? This is a shame. We are a sick culture and headed straight to hell.

    September 21, 2010 at 4:53 am |
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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.