NEW YORK (CBS 2/AP) — The imam leading an effort to build an Islamic center near the World Trade Center site said the raging debate on whether it should be moved has stoked anti-Muslim feelings.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said in an interview that aired Sunday that the controversy over the mosque site has heightened concerns among Muslims of rising Islamophobia, and fear of Islam is possibly greater than it was immediately after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

Rauf spoke on ABC News’ “This Week with Christiane Amanpour.” He also said that the project made the front page of papers when it was approved last December and was not questioned, and that it has become a debate for political reasons.

The interview aired one day after the anniversary of the attacks.

After the 9/11 ceremony in Lower Manhattan, quiet and respectful rally in peaceful opposition to the Ground Zero mosque was held, with one victim’s mother, Nellie Braginsky, asking a simple question: “Mr. Bloomberg, tells us, do you sleep well? Do you have a bad dream?”

She was one of many to highlight the mayor’s staunch support of the Islamic cultural center, formerly called the Cordoba House and now renamed Park51.

The flag waving, anti-mosque crowd stretched two blocks over three lanes of traffic. The estimated 3,000 people from across the country was led by their main speaker, Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician noted for his opposition to both Islamic terrorism and Islamic immigrants’ refusal to assimilate.

“A tolerant society like New York must defend itself against the forces of darkness,” he said.

Although mostly peaceful, one protester at the rally was taken away by police after burning pages of what appeared to be a copy of the Koran.

Meanwhile, a dueling, pro-mosque crowd gathered at City Hall Park, then marched through Lower Manhattan. Their message was it’s possible to be a Muslim and a patriotic American, and the proposed mosque would prove it.

“These people who attack this country are not belonging to us, who are American-Muslims who live here, have the right to get equality,” said Mahmoud Ali of Staten Island.

The counter-rally was smaller, about 2,000.

And many said the terrorists who struck on 9/11 were extremists who by their very actions, surrendered any claim to true Islamic beliefs. “Theologically, in the sight of God being the follower of God, that’s correct,” said Shamshad Ahmed of Masjid As-Salam.

Comments (14)
  1. col says:

    This Mosque idea is a bad one. this Imam guy has basically threatened America with more attacks if the Islamic community DOES NOT get their way by building this Victory Mosque. which is BS to New Yorkers and The true Americans of this country.
    If this is the way things are going to be ran in our Government then we should just tuck our tails between our legs and run every time one of our soldiers finds themselves lost in Iraq from poor navigational skills and in the hands of terrorist enemies.
    But we are better than that!!!1 We need to fight this tooth and nail til it gets resolved for the American people.
    Kinda reminds me of Braveheart

  2. Take action today against the Ground Zero Mosque! Go to:

  3. Dave says:

    ’nuff, did you know the Taliban agreed to hand Bin Laden over to America? A crime is a crime, and they agreed to try him under Sharia law (The same Sharia law that Americans believe is evil (because they know nothing about it)). The Taliban asked America to provide the evidence that Bin Laden committed the crime and they’ll hand him over. America said no.

    1. Dan Te says:

      Only one thing to say about Sharia “laws”:

      Allah’s Ma Licks ‘Em

  4. 'nuff already says:

    Has anyone else noticed that whenever islam or muslims are involved, be it an attack committed by muslims somewhere or a muslim response to some perceived affront (e.g., the mohammad cartoons) , American Muslim Groups usually issue press releases or go on record with the news media with nothing more to say than please don’t blame all muslims. Never do you hear them condemn the muslims who are doing whatever…it’s always about fear of reprisal.

    What’s that about?

  5. jp says:

    “Dan” you’re an atheist right? It’s pretty obvious to see that you don’t follow any religion because of your hatred-filled soul….you can visit park51’s website to see what they have listed.

    1. Dan Te says:

      To jp: You bet I hate Murderers. So would any sane person without air bubbles in it’s head.

  6. Dan Te says:

    And I ask you “jp” where did you get your info from? So far none of it is true. Just nice nice words from mu-slimes known to say nice nice words than kill kill kill.

    But I guess remembering even last month’s events are too much for you air heads.

  7. jp says:

    Do you truly believe terrorists are funding this place? First I’d like to ask, where’s your evidence. Secondly, this place is going to have an interfaith section, basketball courts, cooking lessons…all open to the community. Why would extremist, anti-American, terrorists provide funding for that?

  8. Does it matter? says:

    Where do people think these ” M asks” oare getting their funding from? If they say other than terrorists they are liars. Just like the 1 being funded here. The truth is begining to come out. Just like these other “Masks” going up all over the country. Its all terrorist funding. If people think other they are in complete denial

  9. Dan Te says:

    Islmaphobia: is that code for people finally waking up to what a bunch of murdering bastids mu-slimes are? Or is that code for humans not wanting to be killed by this disease?

    Mu-slimes: talks real good. Slime goes down real great – especially in an air head idealist’s throat. But their ACTIONS are all consistently murderous.

  10. Tommy NYC 9/11/01 Never Forget says:

    Here’s your “American” Muslim

  11. Jon says:

    Not all to sure of your background as you did not even leave a name. But in our past, the very same has been said about Jews, Blacks, Asians, Irish, Germans, French, Native-American,
    and about other religious and national groups.
    Have to wonder if you fit into any of those groups.
    And FYI: Anyone who claims/believes that their blood live goes back to the 16-17 hundreds in America, should check their DNA before saying they are pure Americans.
    And what is your hate based on? The actions of 19 men who followed the orders and teachings, not of “their” religion, but of one extremist, criminal.
    And that being the case, you should hate every religion and every person.

    1. Dan Te says:

      If you’re going to pretend to be historically knowledgeable, at least try to check your summations in a Wiki somewhere.

      Fact is, no race in the past has ever deliberately try to kill civilians for no reason other than a crazed need to kill. All had killed in terms of a military action in which both sides is well aware that they are in harms way. And these actions were generally for economic reasons of their citizens’ well being.

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