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Controversial Imam speaks at UNC

Posted March 16, 2011
Updated March 17, 2011

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— The man behind a proposal to build an Islamic community center just blocks from the site of the World Trade Center in New York City spoke at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Wednesday night while groups opposed to that plan met outside.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf was paid $20,000 in private funds to deliver the 2011 Weil Lecture on American Citizenship. 

He talked about the importance of Americans engaging with the Muslim community and said a community center is one way to help do that.

Abdul Rauf, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was born in Kuwait. He founded and chairs the Cordoba Movement, which seeks to improve understanding among people of all cultures and faiths.

He has been promoting the Cordoba House, a center to encourage multi-faith understanding at Park51, near the site of the World Trade Center tragedy. His project has been labeled the "Ground Zero Mosque" by those who point out that the Sept. 11 attackers were Muslim. 

"I'm committed to bridging relations between the country that I love and the religion that I love," Abdul Rauf told a packed auditorium. 

In a meeting nearby, the Christian Action Network played a film about the families of those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. 

Some of the people in attendance Wednesday night were in New York City when the attacks occurred. 

"I think this mosque at ground zero is a mistake, and I'm here to challenge it," said Iario Pantano, who worked near the World Trade Center. 

Firefighter Tim Brown was a first responder on Sept. 11. He said he lost 93 friends in the tragedy. 

"It's about how hurtful this proposed mosque at ground zero is to the families of 9/11," Brown said. 

Man behind ground zero mosque visits UNC Man behind ground zero mosque visits UNC

While Abdul Rauf was speaking, the group lit candles outside the talk.They were greeted by a group who supports Cordoba House.

University officials said Abdul Rauf is not raising funds for the center during his public speaking engagements across the country. He is scheduled to speak at Duke University on Thursday.

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  • lovethesouth1 Mar 18, 2011

    dlkster: ...Actually, I think he is, by virtue of the fact that he's speaking to a predominately Christian (or at least, non-Muslim) crowd at UNC.

    I mean, you could argue that he's doing a poor job of it, but he's at least out there, speaking to American Christians. If that's not "engaging the public," then what is?

    What the heck are you talking about? You assume he was speaking to Christians? By talking to a group of people at a public university, he wasn't engaging the Christian community. Your comment above was absolutely backwards. Get a clue.

  • NCSU2311 Mar 18, 2011

    a "monument" to the 9/11 attackers

    FOX News drivel. What sheep.

  • NCSU2311 Mar 18, 2011

    "...Beteer yet go to the mother land because my son has been over their hunting down those peaceful people."

    If I translate this properly, your son (as is my daughter) is serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Think about this. For every person trying to kill our young military members over there, there are a thousand native Muslims who welcome and are grateful for the protection, construction and restoration they're receiving. If it were otherwise, our young military men and women would be dropping faster than Custer's 7th Cavalry.

    Not every Muslim wants to destroy America any more than every Christian wants to nuke Mecca.
    genralwayne

    There are over 1 BILLION Mulsims in the world. If they ALL wanted us dead GOLO wouldnt exist. I love sheep. Use YOUR OWN brain.

  • surfnturf27 Mar 17, 2011

    Sometimes your posting guidelines are NOT middle of the road!

  • surfnturf27 Mar 17, 2011

    Moderator... Thanks for not showing my post. It was not offensive or obusive in any way... and it was and still is (by the way) my opinion

  • genralwayne Mar 17, 2011

    "...Beteer yet go to the mother land because my son has been over their hunting down those peaceful people."

    If I translate this properly, your son (as is my daughter) is serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Think about this. For every person trying to kill our young military members over there, there are a thousand native Muslims who welcome and are grateful for the protection, construction and restoration they're receiving. If it were otherwise, our young military men and women would be dropping faster than Custer's 7th Cavalry.

    Not every Muslim wants to destroy America any more than every Christian wants to nuke Mecca.

  • WooHoo2You Mar 17, 2011

    Sometimes, it's pathetic what these moderators won't post.-ConcernedNCC

    I agree.

  • pat7 Mar 17, 2011

    Last Comment if you want peace with them ,Ask them why they hate us so much, And why they want to strap peaceful destructive devises on themself and do us harm .Freedom of speech is wonderful

  • pat7 Mar 17, 2011

    Yes Carrboroyouth
    Tell that the the victim of 9/11 Beteer yet go to the mother land because my son has been over their hunting down those peaceful people. Yes its sad that they cant raise above thing but honeslty i think they love their life

  • ConcernedNCC Mar 17, 2011

    Sometimes, it's pathetic what these moderators won't post.

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