Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani slammed the iman behind the so-called “ground zero mosque” Sunday for saying that Islam would be viewed as being under attack in America if the planned Islamic center two blocks from the site of the World Trade Center attacks is not built.
Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Giuliani said he would have told anybody three years ago that the families of 9/11 victims would be hurt and angered at the idea of erecting a huge Islamic near the site of the terror attacks by Islamic fundamentalists.
Referring to the recent threats of a radical minister in Florida to burn copies of the Koran, Giuliani said, “The imam has a right to put the mosque there. Freedom of religion gives him that right. The minister has the right to burn the Koran. The same amendment to the Constitution gives him that right, the First Amendment. In either case, common sense and a real dedication to healing that these men of God would theoretically have would tell you not to do it because you're hurting too many people."
Then host David Gregory asked him about comments the imam, Faisal Abdul Rauf, made last week on CNN’s Larry King show.
MR. GREGORY: You mention Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, who is imam who wants to build a community center in lower Manhattan. He appeared on CNN this week and, and issued a warning of sorts about this debate moving forward and its impact. Let me play a portion of that.
MR. GIULIANI: Yeah.
Imam FEISAL ABDUL RAUF: If we move from that location, the story will be that the radicals have taken over the discourse. The headlines in the Muslim world will be that Islam is under attack. And I'm less concerned by the radicals in America than I'm concerned about the radicals in the Muslim word.
MR. GREGORY: Are you concerned about that warning?
MR. GIULIANI: I'm concerned about the imam doing that. I think that tactic is not the kind of tactic I would have expected from an imam who's featured as a man of conciliation. You know, I analyzed this imam's history pretty carefully, and I hate to imply it, but it's the only way to do it. There's the good imam and the bad imam. The good imam is about reconciliation. He's about being open and transparent about what he's doing and how he's doing it. Then there's the bad imam who said America is an accessory to September 11. America has more Muslim blood on its hands than vice versa. He can't condemn Hamas as a terrorist group. And he will not be transparent about where he's getting the money, how he's getting the money, and has virtually not been open at all about this. And now we have the imam who tells us if doesn't get his way there could be significant and very dangerous violence. Look, those are very, very strong words, and to enter a sort of a suggestion of a threat into this, I worry about this as the kind of tactics he, he pursues.
MR. GREGORY: You, you talked in rather stark terms, however, about moving forward with this community center and mosque, saying that if you are in fact committed to being a healer, you don't go forward with the project, but if you were a warrior you do. Are you actually suggesting that he's a warrior...
MR. GIULIANI: No. I'm...
MR. GREGORY: ...because of his interest in building this?
MR. GIULIANI: I'm suggesting he's — seems to be — he seems, by his actions to be more interested in confrontation than in healing. Actually, if you go on with the rest of the that quote, I was talking about the pope and the issue that he faced several years ago with a convent outside of Auschwitz. There was a convent there, perfect right to have it. Many people in the Jewish people felt it was insensitive. The pope and the nuns could have said, "We're going to stay there. We have a right to do it. Let's have that confrontation. Bring it on." The pope, being a man of healing, wanting not to make things more painful for people that have already had way too much pain, said, "Let's withdraw. Let's pull it back." I say he has the same kind of choice.
The people he's hurting here most are the families of, of — the families that have lost loved ones down there. And they don't all feel that way, but 80 or 90 percent feel extremely hurt by this. It's making them relive the pain. They should be the ones to get the most consideration, not the imam, not me, not the president, not the mayor. They're the ones that are the most affected by this.
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