PARK 51

Cordoba House Imam Breaks Silence

Hasan Jamali / AP Photo

The chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, the group behind the building of an Islamic cultural center and mosque in downtown Manhattan, broke his silence Tuesday with an op-ed in The New York Times. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf promises that he is going ahead with the planned center, which is meant to help build bridges between Muslims, Christians, and Jews and will cultivate understanding between all religions and cultures. Of President Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Rauf writes, "It was striking: a Christian president and a Jewish mayor of New York supporting the rights of Muslims. Their statements sent a powerful message about what America stands for, and will be remembered as a milestone in improving American-Muslim relations." As for the controversy of the location of the proposed cultural center, Rauf writes he is “very sensitive to the families of victims of 9/11,” and that he calls on Americans to commemorate the upcoming 9/11 anniversary by embracing the center and showing radicals how tolerate the U.S. can be of all faiths. Rauf will also appear on Larry King Live on Wednesday evening.