Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) on Sunday strongly criticized Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam seeking to build an Islamic community center and mosque near Ground Zero.
“He seems by his actions to be more interested in confrontation than in healing,” Giuliani said on NBC’s "Meet the Press."
The former mayor alleged that the plan is hurtful to the vast majority of family members of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
Giuliani also said the imam has not been transparent about the project’s financing, and cited Rauf’s 2001 comment on CBS’s 60 Minutes that “United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.”
Giuliani also compared the imam to Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who had threatened to burn copies of the Quran on Sept. 11 but backed off in recent days.
“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 Quran. The same amendment to the constitution gives him that right,” Giuliani said.
“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 are hurting too many people,” he added.
In the 2001 interview, Rauf said, “We have been an accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA.”
Rauf addressed the nine-year-old “accessory” comment – which he says has been taken out of context – in an interview on CNN’s Larry King Live that aired last week.
“I was describing the fact that United States had actually worked with the Taliban, cooperated with the Mujahadin. The Mujahadin were VIPs in the Reagan White House administration. And Osama bin Laden was something that we -- the United States cooperated with in fighting the Soviet Union,” he said in the Sept. 8, 2010 interview, according to a CNN transcript.
“However, looking back at it right now, I realize it was not a very compassionate thing to say and I regret having used those words,” he added.