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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. Reality

    With the koran it is different. There is no "wiggle" room: (for new members only)

    Mohammed could not have known the size of the world, but several passages in the Koran show that he envisioned Islam dominating all of it, however large it might be: “He it is who sent his messenger . . . that he may cause it [Islam] to prevail over all religions´(Koran 9:33, M.M. Ali; see also 48:28 and 61:9). M.M. Ali designates these three passages as “the prophecy of the ultimate triumph of Islam in the whole world.”

    Mohammed’s successors, the caliphs, quoted passages like these to inspire Muslim armies as they advanced out of Arabia, imposing Islam by the sword upon a peacefully unsuspecting Middle East and North Africa, as I described in the previous chapter.

    Islamic armies, imbued with what Mohammed claimed was divine authorization, imposed Islam by force over vast areas, all the while extorting wealth from subjugated Jews and Christians to fund their ongoing conquests. As I noted, major defeats at Tours, France, in A.D. 732, and again at Vienna, Austria, in A.D. 1683, halted Islam’s attempt to take all of Europe by force. Gradually Islamic forces were forced to retreat from Europe, except for part of the Balkans. But Islam has again set its sights on a conquest of Europe and of European civilization, wherever the latter has spread to North and South America and other regions. Muslim strategists ask their followers, Why do we find in these modern times that Allah has entrusted most of the world’s oil wealth primarily to Muslim nations?

    Their answer: Allah foresaw Islam’s need for funds to finance a final politico-religious victory over what Islam perceives as its ultimate enemy: Christianized Euro-American civilization. So, Islam follows Nazism, fascism and communism as the world’s latest hostile takeover aspirant.

    Nazis, fascists and communists failed. Does Islam have a better chance at success? I believe it will flounder if we awaken to its threat in time; yet, if there is not adequate planned resistance, Islam does have a better chance of succeeding. Communism’s world takeover attempt was guaranteed to fail because its economic policy was naively contrary to human nature. Advocating the rubric What is mine is thine, and what is thine is mine, communism failed to see that human nature will not keep those two balanced propositions in equilibrium. Like a female black widow spider consuming her mate, the latter part of the formula makes a meal of the former, leading to the collapse of any system based upon that formula.

    In contrast, political systems do well if they can persuade people to adhere to What’s mine is mine and What’s thine is thine maxims.

    Only if a strong religious incentive is added does such an idealistic formula have any long-term chance. Even then success will be spotty. But communism (and Nazism, for that matter) excluded religion. And that mistake was the final nail eventually clamping a lid on communism’s coffin. Communism, on a historical scale, perished while still in its childhood.

    Islam is not repeating communism’s mistake. Mating political cunning and incredible wealth with religious zeal, Islam does have a chance to succeed and will succeed unless major parts of the Western world unite to take appropriate countermeasures. But many Western leaders, unable to believe that a mere religion could possible be a serious political threat, keep proclaiming themselves as Islam-friendly, reasoning that all religions are good-aren’t they?

    A Muslim strategist in Beverly Hills, California, declared several years ago, as quoted by a friend of mine: “Now that the struggle between Western democracies and international communism is winding down, it is time for the real and final struggle to begin, and we are going to win!”

    When will people realize that just as there are good doctors and quacks, good cops and rogue cops, there can also be good religions and bad religions?

    September 20, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
    • Ausmadmaxx

      YOU ARE REALISTIC. Hope all Americans get it.

      September 20, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  2. whiteknight

    He's avoiding the city becuase he knows someone will kill his sorry US jihad starting ass which would be a really good thing because he's nothing but a terrorist in disguise and deserves nothing better than a bullet between his deceiving eyes.

    September 20, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  3. M&M

    All you miss-informed people...it's not about the location of the mosque. It's about him wanting to tear down the building and rebuild a mosque there. The muslims are already praying in the building. The people don't want the building torn down because they say it's part of the memorial of their loved ones. The Imam says it is not! So, that's where the fight starts.

    September 20, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  4. agnostic

    well yes i do donimus...i could say someone does not have a birth certificate instead? abdul..the focus should be on everyones tolerance. when the "draw muhammed"woman had to go into hiding i read a post from a proclaimed american muslim that said"dont poke around the hornets nest and you wont get stung" and did not see one comment questioning her "tolerance" it goes both ways, of course he has the right to build it there,fortunately our first amendment also gives the right to freedom of speech eventhough i personally dont agree with alot of whats bein spun. i would say its not the best idea if your aiming for "interfaith relations" this does not seem to help that cause

    September 20, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  5. Scott G

    ahh our tax dollars at work protecting a terrorist

    September 20, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
    • Shhh

      Please explain how is he a terrorist?

      September 20, 2010 at 10:03 pm |
  6. Drake

    To James, the moron- Go educate yourself. The Crusades were a response to the Muslim hords that were terrorizing and conguering the Holy Lands that USED to be Christian and Jewish lands. Idiot.

    September 20, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
    • James

      Drake:
      Thank you for the mature words. I have educated myself and am not as ignorant as you to pretend once side has more fault over the other. History in that time, as they say, is written by the victors and actual motivation or who struck first is difficult to discerne.
      The crusades were in part created by the Holy Roman Empire as well as the Byzantine Empire after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The Muslim holy land was conquered by Syria in the 7th century by Calidus. Jerusalem is very sacred to both Christianity and Islam so it was very natural the two religions would clash however it is mostly agreed by historians that Christianity was the aggressor.
      I'd suggest you take your own advice and educate yourself. Grow up as well.

      September 20, 2010 at 7:11 pm |
  7. Abdul-Haafiz

    They will build the mosque community center at ground zero, that is not the issue. It is going to happen. The issue is do the famously tolerant American people actually show themselves to be bigots, now that the eyes of the world are upon them?

    September 20, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
    • John Doe

      abdul – you might wind up right. And if it does get built, I hope nothing happens to it or to the imam. You all have the RIGHT to build there, but it just should NOT be built there due to many 911 affected folks having a problem with it. But if it does get built, it will tell the average American another perspective on what islam is all about and what how the average muslim thinks regarding respecting their neighbor. Like the largely ABSENT muslim outrage about extremely bad behavior by some muslims (example – NOT A SINGLE ONE on the forum about the draw mohaned gals having to hide from a**holes). WE are NOT judging you all; we are EVALUATING you all, like we did the Irish, the Mexicans, the Germans (my ancestors) before. These groups integrated and became part of us. Some of you are also. That site for the center and no muslim outrage over killings are not good indicators that you all want to become part of us.

      September 20, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
  8. M&M

    Payback is a B!ICH!

    September 20, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  9. M&M

    They should give him police protection in his slum apartment in NJ and make him stay there until all those apartments are fixed to livable conditions. And then send him a bill for the extra protection.

    September 20, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  10. Mike Speakman

    Frankly I wish he'd just decide to avoid the U.S. altogether. He's not wanted at all.

    September 20, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  11. DLewis

    Just wait until they try to build it – I can only imagine how much security he'll need then.

    September 20, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  12. Some Kraut

    So the slimey slug slithered back under his rock. What a useless coward. He'll have to face the public at some point. Anger at his Ground Zero mosque plans will not abate.

    September 20, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  13. Murf

    Prior to the current dust up and regarding the building of a mosque adjacent to Ground Zero, I had never heard of the Imam. Perhaps if Mr. Rauf would like to see a more constructive dialogue and to improve understanding with Joe US Citizen of his muslim faith, then it'd be helpful if he were to be more FRONT and CENTER to rebuke the terrorist acts undertaken by those of this faith. Then and only then will I believe that he loves our country as much as he says he does.

    September 20, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  14. M&M

    Who knows...maybe it's one of his own radical islamist people in America who is threatening him. They might be trying to stir up some mess here. They are good for that. I hope the authorities are looking into that!

    September 20, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  15. M&M

    Imam is the the only person who can put this mess to bed. All he has to do is act peaceful and I'm sure everyone will go away and leave him in peace. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The brute force of his agenda has made anyone who would have accepted him with open arms grow extremely leery of him and what he's about. People don't trust him and unless he change his path, things will not change. This is like a game of chess...it's now his move.

    September 20, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
  16. Abdul-Haafiz

    They will build the mosque community center at ground zero, that is not the issue. It is going to happen. The issue is do the famously tolerant American people actually show themselves to be bigots, now that the eyes of the world are upon them?

    September 20, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
    • M&M

      This will never happen. You can put all the names to it and call Americans all the names you want to. A name means nothing. Freedom means more than all the slimy names you can come up with. Just because you call someone a name does not make them that.

      September 20, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
    • Abdul-Haafiz

      What "freedom" are you speaking of? Do you even know what you are talking about, or are you just recalling something someone with much more brains than you have said on FOX News? The mosque will go up, because that is what the law allows. So the spotlight is on the American people, and how maturely they handle the situation.

      September 20, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  17. HarryBolzak

    Satan laughs at all of you. Your hate is His prize.

    September 20, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
  18. PayAndPay

    I am not an American citizen but I have been observing this nonsense for some time. I hope all you taxpayers get a really really big security bill from this guy. Many of you are so blinded by hatred that you can't separate truth from fiction. Bill baby bill.

    September 20, 2010 at 6:08 pm |
  19. whatever 48

    What happened to the "separation of church and state"? Why isn't the ACLU suing someone for using government personnel and tax payer money to protect a religious leader? The pope has his own security, why are the citizens of New York expected to pay for this guy's security?

    September 20, 2010 at 6:05 pm |
  20. M&M

    He threatened the American people by telling us that if he has to move the Mosque then we would be targeted by the Extremist. Now, who's being threatened. Or maybe this is one of his ploy to stir up mess for the Islamic radicals to start some mess with America. I don't trust this idiot! He talks about peace but ever since he came on the scene it's nothing but problems.

    September 20, 2010 at 6:03 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.