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A portrait of the NYC mosque imam

by Brad A. Greenberg

August 31, 2010 | 9:34 am

And now for your daily dose of Near Ground Zero Mosque stories. This installment, from the AP, concerns Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the leader of the Park51 Islamic center project:

“He is one of the really important Muslim leaders in America, working for and working with other religions,” said the Rev. James Parks Morton, the former dean of the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine who has known Rauf and his family for more than 30 years. “He’s a very, very conciliatory, intellectual guy.”

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Rauf rarely deviates in his interviews, speeches and books from a core message of the need for interfaith dialogue to resolve religious conflicts. What emerges is a portrait of a man who has passionately argued that Islam is inherently compatible with American life, and that each is enriched by the other.

He has strongly opposed acts of violence in the name of Islam.

Despite this softball opening and the fact that Rauf wouldn’t speak with the AP, reporter Christian Salazar does a good job of investigating Rauf’s past statements to a handful of less visible media outlets.

Overall, Salazar paints a portrait of a moderate Muslim getting a raw deal. I’m not really sure how that jives with the quote Salazar includes in which Rauf refuses to call Hamas a terrorist organization. He concludes with Rauf talking about the purpose of the Islamic center:

“Our stated objective is to establish this as a launching point, as a headquarters if you want, of a global understanding, of a moderate Islam that is true to its fundamental principles,” he told the New York-based Intersections International, a group that has endorsed the Islamic center. “And to accuse us as being the opposite of that flies in the face off our stated vision, our mission, my track record and everything I’ve ever done or stood for.”

Read the rest here.

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