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'Ground Zero mosque' Imam to undertake 'speaking tour' of US next month

By Manoj Kumar Ramesh

New York, Dec 24 (ANI): Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Imam behind the proposed community centre and mosque near Ground Zero, would reportedly undertake a nationwide tour in the United States next month to promote the project and to discuss about life of Muslims in America.

The New York Times quoted Rauf as saying that last summer's controversy has helped "initiate a discourse that has been very good for the country".

"I'm an American, and I believe that Americans are problem solvers. So I believe further discussion can only be good," he added.

The tour would reportedly begin in Detroit, the city with the largest Muslim population in the United States, and include stops in Chicago, Washington, San Antonio and several college campuses, starting with Harvard, Yale, Georgetown and the University of North Carolina.

However, because of death threats he has received, none of his addresses would be open to the general public, but he would convey his messages through the media, Rauf said.

Meanwhile, some of the project's most outspoken opponents have welcomed the imam's plan for a speaking tour.

"I think this will help to revive the opposition, not only from Americans in general but from Muslims in this country, who don't want this thing built," the paper quoted Ryan Mauro, a conservative blogger and the producer of a documentary about the planned community center, as saying.

His film, "Sacrificed Survivors: The Untold Story of the Ground Zero Mega-Mosque," focuses on opposition to the mosque by some families of 9/11 victims. (ANI)

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