U.S. election-year politics are interfering with the plan to build an Islamic centre near the site of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Muslim cleric leading the project said in comments published on Monday.
Kuwait-born Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has been tight-lipped on the planned cultural centre, said he felt the uproar was linked to the U.S. congressional elections in November.
"There is no doubt that the election season has had a major impact upon the nature of the discourse," Abdul Rauf said in an interview with Abu Dhabi's The National newspaper.
The proposed Islamic centre in lower Manhattan has generated fierce opposition from conservative politicians and people who see the project as an offence to the approximately 2,750 people killed in Sept. 11 attacks.
Controversy grew earlier this month when the State Department confirmed it was financing Abdul Rauf, a Sufi Muslim scholar, to travel the Middle East for a U.S.-backed educational and cultural programme, calling him a "distinguished cleric".
The imam said he planned to speak directly on the issue of the Islamic centre, which has been backed by leaders of several faiths, when he returned to the United States later this week.
ReutersLast Mod: 31 Ağustos 2010, 10:25