Imam warns against retreat on mosque near Ground Zero

"My major concern with moving it is that the headline in the Muslim world will be Islam is under attack in America," Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf told the ABC news in an interview when asked about a survey in which more than 70 per cent New Yorkers want the mosque to be moved from the ground zero site.

"This will strengthen the radicals in the Muslim world, help their recruitment. This will put our people -- our soldiers, our troops, our embassies, our citizens -- under attack in the Muslim world, and we have expanded and given and fuelled terrorism," he said.

"It is an extremely important consideration (in deciding not to move the site)," Rauf said in response to a question.

The Imam said the project has been used by political parties and its leaders by political purposes.

"This project was front page news in 'The New York Times' last December. No one objected. What has happened is that since May -- five, six months later, for political reasons, certain politicians decided that this project would be very useful for their political ambitions," he said.

"The fact of the matter is, A, this has been used for political purposes. And there's growing Islamophobia in this country. How else would you describe the fact that mosques around the country are now being attacked? We are Americans, too. We are treated and talked about today as if American Muslims are not Americans," he argued.

"We are Americans. We are are doctors. We are investment bankers. We are taxi drivers. We are store keepers. We are lawyers. We are -- we are part of the fabric of America. The way that America today treats its Muslims is being watched by over a billion Muslims worldwide," he said.

"The battleground today is not between Islam and the West. The battleground has been moderates of all faith traditions in all the countries of the world against the radicals of all faith traditions in all parts of the world," the Imam said.

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