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Imam warns against retreat on mosque near Ground Zero mosque

Any move to shift the location of the planned mosque near Ground Zero in New York would strengthen radicals in the Muslim world, a cleric behind the construction of the Islamic Cultural Centre warned on Sunday.

Updated: Sep 12, 2010, 23:59 PM IST

Washington: Any move to shift the
location of the planned mosque near Ground Zero in New York
would strengthen radicals in the Muslim world, a cleric behind
the construction of the Islamic Cultural Centre warned on Sunday.

"My major concern with moving it is that the headline
in the Muslim world will be Islam is under attack in America,"
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf told the ABC news in an interview when
asked about a survey in which more than 70 per cent New
Yorkers want the mosque to be moved from the ground zero site.
"This will strengthen the radicals in the Muslim
world, help their recruitment. This will put our people -- our
soldiers, our troops, our embassies, our citizens -- under
attack in the Muslim world, and we have expanded and given and
fuelled terrorism," he said.

"It is an extremely important consideration (in
deciding not to move the site)," Rauf said in response to a
question.

The Imam said the project has been used by political
parties and its leaders by political purposes.

"This project was front page news in `The New York
Times` last December. No one objected. What has happened is
that since May -- five, six months later, for political
reasons, certain politicians decided that this project would
be very useful for their political ambitions," he said.

"The fact of the matter is, A, this has been used for
political purposes. And there`s growing Islamophobia in this
country. How else would you describe the fact that mosques
around the country are now being attacked? We are Americans,
too. We are treated and talked about today as if American
Muslims are not Americans," he argued.

"We are Americans. We are are doctors. We are
investment bankers. We are taxi drivers. We are store keepers.

We are lawyers. We are -- we are part of the fabric of
America. The way that America today treats its Muslims is
being watched by over a billion Muslims worldwide," he said.

"The battleground today is not between Islam and the
West. The battleground has been moderates of all faith
traditions in all the countries of the world against the
radicals of all faith traditions in all parts of the world,"
the Imam said.

PTI