Arun Venugopal is a reporter and the creator of Micropolis, WNYC’s multi-platform series examining race, sexuality, religion, street life and other issues that define New York City. He has been with the station since 2005, and has covered a wide range of stories, including the death of Sean Bell, the controversy over the Park 51 mosque and community center and Occupy Wall Street .
Imam Behind Islamic Cultural Center Speaks Out, but Offers Few Answers
Monday, September 13, 2010
The imam behind the Islamic cultural center and mosque near the World Trade Center site spoke before the Council on Foreign Relations Monday morning. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf rehashed his previous comments without offering any conclusive answers to questions swirling around the proposed project, known as Park51, but he did say he wants to clear up misconceptions about Islamic religion and stereotypes in America.
"We must not let the extremists, whatever their faith, whatever their political persuasion, hijack the discourse, and hijack the media," he said.
Some of this he has already explored in other media appearances and in the Op-Ed he wrote for The New York Times. Rauf says that he's still considering all options, which leaves open the possibility that he could move the location, or that the nature of the project could also be altered.
He did admit that if he had known the project would result in the furor that has played out in the last few weeks, he wouldn't have chosen to build at that site and might have had different stakeholders in this project.
The imam did say the center would be a place for all faiths to come together in mutual respect, which makes it "worth the controversy."