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Right now, the imam is traveling, and in his absence, opponents are using past statements to criticize future plans.
Rauf already has a mosque in lower Manhattan. Masjid al-Farah is about 12 blocks from ground zero, and for 15 years the mosque has struggled to accommodate people in its small prayer space. In an interview about his plans for the new building earlier this year, Rauf said having a Muslim presence so close to the site lets him reach out to non-Muslims and counter the terrorists' ideology.
"By participating in lectures, by having sports together, this is how people bond across the religious divides, and this has been a very important factor in bridging relationships between the various factors of the Christian and other Abrahamic faith traditions," Rauf said.