‘Ground Zero’ imam on Mideast tour to make Islam ‘Americanized’

Geoff Earle and Charles Hurt
NY Post

WASHINGTON — The imam behind the plan to build a mosque near Ground Zero surfaced yesterday far from the controversy — in Bahrain, where he’s on a taxpayer-funded trip to the Middle East to spread good will.

Appearing in public for the first time in weeks, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, speaking at a mosque near Bahrain’s capital of Manama, said he wants to “Americanize” Islam — but dodged questions about the uproar over his planned mosque and community center.

Rauf spoke against fanaticism, saying, “This issue of extremism is something that has been a national-security issue — not only for the United States but also for many countries and nations in the Muslim world.”

“This is why this particular trip has a great importance because all countries in the Muslim world — as well as the Western world — are facing this . . . major security challenge,” Rauf told Associated Press Television News in a brief interview.

The cleric also said he was working on a way to “Americanize Islam,” but didn’t offer any details…

…”I think there is no place for this,” said the Rev. Franklin Graham, who is the son of evangelist Billy Graham and opposes the Ground Zero mosque.

“Can you imagine if the State Department paid to send me on a trip anywhere? The separation of church and state — the critics would have been howling.”

US officials have said they instructed Rauf not to fund-raise for the mosque during his trip…

Read the whole thing at the NY Post.

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