Broadcasting today from New York City, Tell Me More's guests included Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the cleric at the center of last year's controversy over whether an Islamic community center (called the "ground zero mosque" by opponents) should be built a few blocks from where the World Trade Center towers stood before the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
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Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. (August 2010 file photo.)
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. (August 2010 file photo.) Hasan Jamali/AFP/Getty Images
Since last November's elections, the controversy has largely faded from front pages. Rauf told TMM host Michel Martin that "the vision [for such a center] is still alive. Whether it will happen [at the controversial site] or another location, we should hopefully have some news for you in the upcoming few months."
Rauf has said in recent weeks that he's open to building the center somewhere else in Manhattan, but that no developers have contacted him to offer such a location. "If someone were to offer a site that is equal or better," and which could accomodate a "multi-faith center ... I'd be very receptive to that," he said.
He also spoke, as he has before, about how Muslims are viewed by many Americans in the post-9/11 world:
"It's very clear that we need a discourse that heals the country around 9/11 and makes it clear to everyone that Islam is not at the root of this [such attacks]," Rauf said. "This is about political issues or other issues in which some people who call themselves Muslims have conducted this heinous act. Muslims across the world have condemned the actions of 9/11 ... and have made it very clear this is not something which should be attributed to any authentic expression of what the faith of Islam and its ethics and principles stand for."
Here is Michel's conversation with Rauf:
As Tell Me More has previously reported, not all Muslims agree with Rauf that the center should be built near ground zero. Last August, Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy told Michel that he believes it would be better to spend the money to build 100 "anti al-Qaida centers" around the nation. And Neda Bolourchi, who lost her mother on 9/11, said that such a center would be "a very harsh reminder for us of what happened that day."