Fox News
May 23, 2012

'Ground Zero mosque' imam sets the record straight on 'Hannity'

Guests: Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," May 23, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Tonight, I will be joined in just a moment by a man who's often referred to us the "Ground Zero imam," right here on our studio.

But first, let's review the controversy for our viewers. Now, the Cordoba Initiative Founder and Chairman Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf became a household name back in 2010 when he was the lead supporter of the then-proposed mosque at Ground Zero.

Now, the Islamic Center -- which has been renamed Park 51 -- is just steps away from where the World Trade Center towers once stood. Now, Park 51 developers are still fund-raising to help complete the 15-floor center, but the doors are open to the community as their plan.

And even though Imam Rauf is no longer associated with the project, he still stands by it and he now joins me in studio to explain why. He has a brand-new book, it's called "Moving the Mountain: Beyond Ground Zero to a New Vision of Islam in America," it's out in stores now, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.

I didn't think you'd ever come to this program. Because you know, I have been very critical of you. You know that?

IMAM FEISAL ABDUL RAUF, CORDOBA INITIATIVE FOUNDER: Well, I'm here to straighten the record.

HANNITY: OK. Look, I'm glad you are. I have read in a recent interview that you said, and you said, Americans have -- on the question of Americans treating Muslims, you went on to praise them. You said, look, I go out, the way Americans have treated the Muslim community is amazing.

RAUF: Indeed. Indeed. That's what I say whenever I travel to the Muslim world and speak, which I have done on many, many occasions. Our enemy is not Islam. Islam is not the enemy of America --

HANNITY: I agree with you.

RAUF: -- and Americans are not the enemy of Islam. Our real enemy is extremism and radicalism. This is the common enemy. The battlefront, Sean, is not between the Muslims and Americans. The real battlefront is between the moderates of all faith traditions against the extremists of all faith traditions.

HANNITY: All right. Here's where I run into a problem with you then. And how could you possibly have gone on "60 Minutes" after the slaughter of 3,000 Americans and say, the United States and their policies were an accessory to what happened? I've got the tape. I'm going to show you the tape. Let's roll it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "60 MINUTES," SEPT. 20, 2001)

RAUF: I wouldn't say that the United States deserved what happened. But the United States' policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You're saying that we're an accessory?

RAUF: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: How?

RAUF: Because we have been accessory to a lot of innocent lives, dying in the world. In fact, in the most direct sense, Usama bin Laden is made in the USA.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Usama bin Laden -- you are blaming us with that statement! You are blaming America for the 3,000 dead Americans!

RAUF: Sean, it was an insensitive thing to say, I regret saying that. And you know, we need to -- I ask forgiveness and ask to be forgiven.

HANNITY: Why have you never said that before?

RAUF: Wait a minute, I have.

HANNITY: I've never heard you say it.

RAUF: I have said that when I was interviewed at the heart of the crisis on CNN. I did say that was an insensitive thing to say and I am sorry and I regret having said that.

HANNITY: I appreciate that.

RAUF: But again, the thing that has caused this is our common enemy, which is extremism. And we have to combat extremism. And we can combat it. I've a whole chapter in my book. The fact of the matter is that 60 people, 60 Muslims died on 9/11. I've been an Imam of a small mosque, a dozen blocks from Ground Zero, for almost 30 years since 1983. This neighborhood, Sean, is my neighborhood. That community is my community. And I've always felt as part of that community.

HANNITY: But you talk in your book, and this is where I am having a conflict with you, you talk in your book about bringing everybody together. I separate radical Islamist, I separate Hamas and Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda. I separate that from people that want to pursue their faith. I'm a Christian. They're Muslim. There are peaceful Muslims. Here's the problem, though. You have been given multiple opportunities to condemn Hamas. You've never done it.

RAUF: I have.

HANNITY: No. You were in a radio interview with Aaron Cline on my flagship station and you wouldn't do it.

RAUF: After that, I did.

HANNITY: After that?

RAUF: Yes. I did.

HANNITY: Why are you changing then? Because all of a sudden now you're changing?

RAUF: Well, look, again any -- any organization or any individual that targets civilians and kills them for political agenda is a terrorist --

HANNITY: Hamas is a terrorist organization?

RAUF: Yes, it is a terrorist organization.

HANNITY: And Hezbollah is a terrorist organization?

RAUF: Yes.

HANNITY: And the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist organization.

RAUF: To the extent that any of these, and look --

HANNITY: "Yes" or "no."

RAUF: No, no, no. Sean?

HANNITY: That's important.

RAUF: In the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. My parents are from Egypt. In Egypt today, there are different wings of the Muslim Brotherhood.

HANNITY: Muslim Brotherhood is now elected to parliament. Their first act was to declare Israel their enemy.

RAUF: But there are different strand within the Muslim Brotherhood. There is a young group of the Muslim Brotherhood coming up today that has a very different opinion as to how they have engaged. Within any community, just like within Republicans or Democrats, there are right wings, there are middle of the roads, there are people who are more liberal. Any group. And we have to engage with those who are in power because we have to create the change.

HANNITY: Look.

RAUF: You create the change by engaging with people.

HANNITY: First of all -- how do you possibly -- this is important. How do you possibly engage with, let's say Hamas? Because you know, I look at the United States very differently. This is what frustrated me about your comments that you are now apologizing for in "60 Minutes," because America liberated Kuwait. We lost American lives, we helped in Kosovo, we helped in Indonesia, we helped in Iraq, we helped in Afghanistan. You know, America -- blood, sweat, tears, the financial burden. We offer financial assistance to Egypt for all of their years that they were at peace with Israel. We have facilitated peace. And we don't get credit. And you say, well, Usama Bin Laden was made in the USA -- that angers me.

RAUF: I'm sorry it angered you. And I am sorry I said it. I said I'm sorry.

But again, we have to solve the problem of extremism. And there are good stories to say, there are important stories to say about how Americans and Muslims have and will and have cooperated successfully.

Let me tell you a story, Sean, at the height of the crisis two years ago, when the Florida Pastor threatened to burn the Koran, was a very volatile situation. Who was the one who came up and stepped in? My friend Jim Wallis, Reverend Jim Wallis who is an evangelical Christian, who was a friend and close friend, said to me, we will intervene because we are evangelical, he's part of our community. So, he (INAUDIBLE) helped --

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: He was horrible.

RAUF: But a good story came out of it. Muslims and Indians, Kashmir heard about this and said this is what American Christians have done. They went and volunteered to create a neighborhood church. So my point is that the extremists fuel each other. We have to get -- we have to find a way, Sean, you and I have to find a way to get those of us who are moderates, who are peace loving to work together to build those coalitions--

HANNITY: Let me tell you --

RAUF: -- and we can do that.

HANNITY: But you talk about the Muslim Brotherhood. And I want you to say, acknowledge that they are extremists. They said, while this Arab Spring was going on, quote, "Prepare for war with Israel." That's what they were saying. Secondly, we saw the violence in Tahrir Square. I knew what was going to happen. You can ask our mutual friend Michael Gouse about that. He was wrong, I was right.

But more importantly, their first act of parliament to say that Israel is their enemy, cutting off their energy supplies to Israel, saying that the Peace Treaty, the Camp David Accords, are dead, gone and buried. And now, they are going to have an extremist that wants to apply Sharia law. And I don't think -- I would argue that it will be an extreme version in Egypt. That's going to be -- that's the rise of radical Islamists.

RAUF: Well, the good news is that for the first time in 5,000 years, Egyptians today are voting for their president.

HANNITY: They're voting for a radical Islamist.

RAUF: And the Muslim Brotherhood candidate is apparently not in the lead for a very important reasons which will be analyzed --

HANNITY: The person in the lead is even more extreme.

RAUF: But the point is, this is a democracy. And we know that building a democracy, Sean, is messy. But the fact is that there are many important trends happening right now in the Arab and Muslim world. And Sharia is basically -- all of Sharia is about protecting and furthering six objectives.

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