Imam Warns Of ‘Global Ramifications’ If Mosque Is Moved

NEW YORK (CBS 2/WCBS 880/1010 WINS) — The imam behind the proposed mosque and Islamic center near ground zero said Wednesday night that he is simply stunned over the firestorm that has erupted over the project, adding that he never would have picked the location, two blocks from the World Trade Center site, had he known the controversy it would spark.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said he’s not changing locations.

The imam told CNN that the discourse surrounding the center has become so politicized that moving it could strengthen the ability of extremists abroad to recruit and wage attacks against Americans, including troops fighting in the Middle East.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane reports on the Imam’s comments
LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ John Montone reports from Park Place

“The headlines in the Muslim world will be that Islam is under attack,” he said, but he added that he was open to the idea of moving the planned location of the center, currently two blocks north of the World Trade Center site.

“But if you don’t do this right, anger will explode in the Muslim world,” he later said, predicting that the reaction could be more furious than the eruption of violence following the 2005 publication of Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Opponents say the center, which would include a Sept. 11 memorial and a Muslim prayer space, should be moved farther away from where Islamic extremists destroyed the World Trade Center and killed nearly 2,800 people. Supporters say religious freedom should be protected.

Rauf, 61, has largely been absent since the debate over the center erupted earlier this year. He has been traveling abroad, including taking a State Department-funded 15-day trip to the Middle East to promote religious tolerance.

In the interview with CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, his first since returning to the U.S. on Sunday, Rauf responded to a number of questions that have been raised about the project.

He said money to develop the center would be raised domestically for the most part.

“And we’ll be very transparent on how we raise money,” he said, adding that no funds would be accepted from sources linked to extremists.

Rauf said that, in retrospect, he might have chosen a different location for what he described as a multifaith community center.

“If I knew this would happen, if it would cause this kind of pain, I wouldn’t have done it,” he said.

Watching the imam were two 9/11 loved ones touched by the same tragedy, but who have very different takes on the appropriateness of the mosque.

When asked if he supported what the imam had said up to that point, Charles Wolf said, “this genie is out of the bottle.”

Wolf lost his wife and was never able to bury any parts of her body. Still, he said he supports the mosque location and what the imam spoke about Wednesday night.

“I believe they have overstepped our bounds because there was already a mosque there for a year, over a year and they didn’t have any problem with it. Someone decided to create a problem with this,” Wolf said.

On Long Island, Rosemary Cain watched with frustration. She lost her firefighting son, George, and never heard an answer to the question she needed.

“Why can’t the site be moved? If he really wanted to build bridges he would start right there,” Cain said.

During the interview, the imam admitted that there was a slight chance the site might be moved.

“Nothing is off the table,” Rauf said.

Watching intently was Cain.

“Everyone knows how wide an area ground zero is and I would not be surprised if human remains are on top of one of those buildings,” she said.

For his part, the imam returned to his principle of not backing down in the face of the anger that has enveloped this site for months.

“The more that the radicals are able to shape the discourse, the more it strengthens the other side,” Rauf said.

“I don’t know what the outcome will be but he sounds like he’s pretty dug in,” Cain said.

In the meantime, a widower said the imam is doing the right thing.

“I think this is one that feel this way are going to have to set aside, and understand and that there is a big difference between the different ends of Islam,” Wolf said.

The imam said he wants to continue the conversation with families of 9/11 victims, saying if the mosque moves, the chance for healing moves with it.

Gov. David Paterson said Thursday he saw Rauf’s comments as a move “in the right direction.”

Paterson declined to comment on Rauf’s remarks that the mosque issue has become so politicized that moving it could endanger national security.

Paterson spoke on WOR radio.

  • Rodin

    No religion , NO PROBLEM.

    Religion is god sanctioned hatred.
    Hatred is a faith based initiative.


  • Hans Jacobs

    And another thing: In Switzerland the goverment did forbid the building of more mosques all togerher. And? What happened? Did the world stop rotating? No. Nothing happened. The only to deal with muslims is to not give in. If you give them one finger, they wil take your whole hand. Remember that, you brave, but naive Americans.

  • Hans Jacobs

    Build a muslim mosque on a grave of thousands of muslim victims. Then call it Islam is under Attack’if people dont want that. So, instead of ‘America under Attack’ its now ‘islam under attack’ on the very same spot.
    Muslim logic

  • Maria P

    You’re in America now Ahmed, we don’t stone people!!!!!

  • Ahmed Muhammad

    Those who opposes the building of the mosque and Islamic center near ground zero should be stoned to death!

  • Maria P

    Oh Daniel! The US is DONE with trying to appease the Muslims. They threaten us and then they want us to be more tolerant of them. I say “you go first!” Let’s see how tolerant the Muslims can be.

  • daniel

    First off Christians have churches in Muslim lands including Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and many others. The most oppressive Muslim country out there are our friends the Saudis. Aside from that, we are America. We don’t take moral direction from other countries we take it from our constitution. This is the US, not Saudi Arabia, so stop comparing NYC to other intolerant places in the world as a basis for not allowing this center. Someone has to be the grown up.

  • daniel

    What religion where the IRA? I guess I have to hate all catholics now too because they are OBVIOUSLY .

  • daniel

    Oh yeah, and lets not forget that the terrorist organization that has killed more Americans than any other is still the KKK albeit over more time. They were also the first organization labled a terrorist group by the US government. What religion where they? I think that pretty clear by their favorite form of terrorism. No one owns terrorism and I wish the McVey Tea-party would realize how similar they are to uneducated radical muslims.

    • Nick

      And yes, we stopped the KKK from building their “churches” and we’ve investigated their funding. But for some reason, murderous muslims is exempt from the same treatment by you folks.

  • Karina

    The aim of Islam is to control the world. Pro-mosque people make note!

  • JFK

    This IMAM just incited a riot. He could be arrested under NYC law.

    Why is he not sitting in jail?

  • BS Meter

    He’s using this argument, to make HIS real estate choice/proximity a more widespread issue — which he doubtless just spread across the Mideast (on the taxpayer’s dime). He’s using the debate, and pretending like he was and is “outside” of it — when he’s been at its core, for years. Now, we see more of his act revealed — but he’s got what he wanted, already. Which is the stage.



  • Cecil Seepersaud

    Why is it that Christians cannot build churches in muslim land or muslim nations? Why is it that Christians are persecuted and killed in muslim lands? You say muslim is a religion of peace, that is something that still needs to be proven. The muslim people are very violent and it’s their assignment to convert the whole world into islam. Why ground zero? Is it because you have conquered that area so now it’s only logical to build a mosque in that same area to show your victory according to the laws of islam? Sir there is a GOD above who looks down upon us. He is not a GOD of religion neither is he a GOD of murder. He is a GOD of love and of mercy and of peace. One day you all will stand before him and give an account of all of your lives and all the deeds that you have done in the name of religion.

  • Patrick

    Rauf’s remarks that the mosque issue has become so politicized that moving it could endanger national security, We are already endangered for our national security. Is the Imam saying that we are already not endangered by the hostile Muslim fanatics? Is the Imam saying that we should appease the Muslim fanatics because of the portentious hostilities that they may bring to Americans? It is quite obvious that this Imam is either not too intelligent or that his intelligence has choreographed a well orchestrated plan to undermine the pinnings of America. Take your choice whether the Imam is untilligent or genius? Sorry to say this Imam got himself between a rock and a hardplace in the pickle jar.

  • Marino

    So you’re telling me mr Iman we should allow your muslin people to build a mosque at ground zero or else will there be consequences?. Muslins are using the constitution of many nations to force their way into societies. Systematically, they are forcing their religion at any cost, who dares to confront them is threatened. How come Christian churches are not be allowed there. I see Islamic –muslins are specials and therefore we have to bend over and take it the way you want it.
    Question Mr. Iman would you oppose to Christians building churches in your muslin land? Picture the other way around, if Christians of the world would threaten the Islamic-extremists as a result will you have the reaction? NOOOO. So shut up and stop showing us that religion down our thoats….

  • Ed Anger

    I got yer ‘global ramifications’ right here (raises middle finger towards Mecca).

  • Maria P

    Don’t upset the muslems. I think it’s time to show them who not to upset! Don’t upset the Americans! We will kick your collected butts!

  • Dan Te

    Careful funkysk8r, “nathan” will be coming along and censoring everything that doesn’t agree with him. He’s the kind of Jew that support Hitler’s rights too. They never learn.

  • funkysk8r

    It’s not going his way, so here come the threates of violence. This is bridge building? How predictable.

  • Dan Te

    Oh, please don’t anger the muslimes.

    Yeah right. What are they going to do? Fit another bombing into their already busy murderous schedule?

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