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. fofo

    Choice between his beloved religion and his country. Okay which one you think a religious man will choose?

    September 21, 2010 at 1:13 pm |
  2. bobby wire

    Is sharia law representative of religous freedom? Freedom to die if you don't subscribe...what a joke..

    September 21, 2010 at 1:11 pm |
  3. John

    He' afraid and needs security. I hope they charge him for it like they are charging the pastor for HIS religious freedom.

    September 21, 2010 at 1:09 pm |
  4. DPL

    The difference here is that the Imam is worried about the "crazies".
    If you are the average freedom loving American you have to be concerned about the regular guy on the street if you visit any Muslim country.

    September 21, 2010 at 1:07 pm |
    • darren

      Really, DPL? Have you been to even one Muslim country? I've been to SEVERAL of them, and I am a lot more concerned about safety here in America than anywhere else in the world. If you ever bother to check street crime statistics, you'll be wondering why the U.S. government hasn't slapped a travel warning on itself.

      September 21, 2010 at 8:35 pm |
  5. DPL

    The difference here is that the Imam is worried about the "crazies".
    If you are the average freedom loving American you have to be concerned about the regular guy on the street if you visit any Muslim country.

    September 21, 2010 at 1:04 pm |
  6. Paras

    Stastical Facts about Islamization: Adapted from Dr. Peter Hammond's book: Slavery, Terrorism and Islam: The Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat

    Islam is not a religion, nor is it a cult. In its fullest form, it is a complete, total, 100% system of life.

    Islam has religious, legal, political, economic, social, and military components. The religious component is a beard for all of the other components.

    Islamization begins when there are sufficient Muslims in a country to agitate for their religious privileges.

    When politically correct, tolerant, and culturally diverse societies agree to Muslim demands for their religious privileges, some of the other components tend to creep in as well..

    Here's how it works:-

    As long as the Muslim population remains around or under 2% in any given country, they will be for the most part be regarded as a peace-loving minority, and not as a threat to other citizens. This is the case in:

    United States - Muslim 0.7%
    Australia - Muslim 1.5%
    Canada - Muslim 1.9%
    China - Muslim 1.8%
    Italy - Muslim 1.5%
    Norway - Muslim 1.8%

    At 2% to 5%, they begin to proselytize from other ethnic minorities and disaffected groups, often with major recruiting from the jails and among street gangs. This is happening in:

    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. For example, 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 halal on their shelves, along with threats for failure to comply. This is occurring in:

    France - Muslim 8%
    Philippines - 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 (within their ghettos) under Sharia, the Islamic Law. The ultimate goal of Islamists is to establish Sharia law over the entire world.

    When Muslims approach 10% of the population, they tend to increase lawlessness as a means of complaint about their conditions. In Paris, we are already seeing car-burnings. Any non-Muslim action offends Islam, and results in uprisings and threats, such as in Amsterdam, with opposition to Mohammed cartoons and films about Islam. Such tensions are seen daily, particularly in Muslim sections, in:

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

    After reaching 20%, nations can expect hair-trigger rioting, jihad militia formations, sporadic killings, and the burnings of Christian churches and Jewish synagogues, such as in:

    Ethiopia - Muslim 32.8%

    At 40%, nations experience widespread massacres, chronic terror attacks, and ongoing militia warfare, such as in:

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

    From 60%, nations experience unfettered persecution of nonbelievers of all other religions (including nonconforming Muslims), sporadic ethnic cleansing (genocide), use of Sharia Law as a weapon, and Jizya, the tax placed on infidels, such as in:

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

    After 80%, expect daily intimidation and violent jihad, some State-run ethnic cleansing, and even some genocide, as these nations drive out the infidels, and move toward 100% Muslim, such as has been experienced and in some ways is ongoing in:

    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' being the Islamic House of Peace. Here there's supposed to be peace, because everybody is a Muslim, the Madrasses are the only schools, and the Koran is the only word, such as in:-

    Afghanistan - Muslim 100%
    Saudi Arabia - Muslim 100%
    Somalia - Muslim 100%
    Yemen - Muslim 100%

    Unfortunately, peace is never achieved, as in these 100% states the most radical Muslims intimidate and spew hatred, and satisfy their blood lust by killing less radical Muslims, for a variety of reasons.

    'Before I was nine I had learned the basic canon of Arab life. It was me against my brother; me and my brother against our father; my family against my cousins and the clan; the clan against the tribe; the tribe against the world, and all of us against the infidel.’ – Leon Uris, 'The Haj'

    It is important to understand that in some countries, with well under 100% Muslim populations, such as France, the minority Muslim populations live in ghettos, within which they are 100% Muslim, and within which they live by Sharia Law. The national police do not even enter these ghettos. There are no national courts, nor schools, nor non-Muslim religious facilities. In such situations, Muslims do not integrate into the community at large. The children attend madrasses. They learn only the Koran. To even associate with an infidel is a crime punishable with death. Therefore, in some areas of certain nations, Muslim Imams and extremists exercise more power than the national average would indicate.

    Today's 1.5 billion Muslims make up 22% of the world's population. But their birth rates dwarf the birth rates of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, and all other believers.. Muslims will exceed 50% of the world's population by the end of this century.

    September 21, 2010 at 1:04 pm |
  7. Alireza

    BTW, If you hate Islam, you are not a racist! Since ISLAM is not a race, idiots!

    September 21, 2010 at 1:02 pm |
  8. aubrie

    What did this bozo expect? YOu thumb your nose at an entire nation and insult them, and refuse to be sensitive to their feelings, you can't expect a warm welcome. I don't doubt this at all. My question is what is he going to do to protect the members of the supposed Mosque/Activity Center? He never considered their safety now did he...... Dumb. His stubborn pride and aggressive hatred of Americans will cause a huge problem, and all he had to do was move it a bit.... Not difficult. Such a lack of respect!!!

    September 21, 2010 at 1:02 pm |
  9. Lee Oates

    He is a wise man to be careful. America has a long history of killing the best the country produces....remember John Kennedy, Bob Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Abraham Lincoln. To all appearances, this Imam is one of the best. I hope he lives a long and fruitful life.

    September 21, 2010 at 1:02 pm |
  10. Alireza

    Islam is the religion of hate and there is no question about it! I experienced it, I lived under the barbaric sharia law for 21 years, I have seen the aggression! Islam is aggressive, it is suffocating, it doesn't believe in freedom of choice, it doesn't believe and recognize the ability of people to decide for themselves, it doesn't believe the human has the brain capacity to make decision, it doesn't like democracy and will aggressively pushes for incorporation of sharia into laws and supports Islamic dictatorship, in Islam women are second class citizen and this reflected in the sharia laws, Quran and Hadith, ....ect
    I know it, since I LIVED IT FOR 21 years!

    September 21, 2010 at 1:00 pm |
  11. JC

    Brandon, you are an idiot........

    September 21, 2010 at 12:57 pm |
  12. Alireza

    Damn! Do I have to see the face this barbaric leader of the religion of hate everyday!

    September 21, 2010 at 12:52 pm |
  13. hoss

    this is more proof that american leadership is evil, he gets protection for free?....he should be charged for security just like the man who threatened to burn qurans.....as a results.....i will soon be burning as many qurans i can get my hands on and im gonna put it on youtube......fu$$ muslims.......i don't care if i die.....come to my house ill make beheading videos of YOU......i would rather kick start the apocolypse than live in a muslim nation....to 1000 years of peace!!!!

    September 21, 2010 at 12:52 pm |
  14. Robert W.

    It is a shame that he has to be afraid here in America. If only those radicals who share his religion had not murdered all those innocent people that day, this controversy would not even exist. Those people caused this fear to be upon their own brother. Shameful.

    September 21, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
  15. Pastor Evans

    As we can see all this major spiritual warfare taking place we know this is not the way of the only true and living God. Satan has so many who don't really know God saying a lot of nothing and he's happy about that because a kingdom divided against itself can't stand. All these different beliefs systems, personal interpretations, false gods, etc...The only way an idividual can really know God is by spiritual revelation that has been imparted to them. So I ask the question which of you really know your God personally?

    September 21, 2010 at 12:47 pm |
  16. Steven

    This pig better stay away from our city !

    September 21, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
  17. trashie

    I would love to see CNN do story on what happened with the Muslims that gently came into the Bahamas. It went from gentle to very pushy and the Bahamian took matters into their own hands and push the Muslims faith out. Lots of bloody situations once they figured out who the infidel was.

    September 21, 2010 at 12:44 pm |
  18. InsertImageofMohammadHere

    The imam and his mosque will be sent a bill for that protection that the taxpayers are paying for, right? Because it would be outrageous to send the bill to the pastor in FL, but not to this guy. Yeah, right.

    September 21, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
  19. Yeah I'm Muslim

    Anyone wanting to understand Islam can down load free books here


    September 21, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
  20. Holy Irony

    Does he fear some religious fundamental radicals will try to harm him just for the way he chooses to live, even though his actions are partly to blame? Yeah, it sucks don't it?

    September 21, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
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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.