Cleric building an Islamic centre near Ground Zero kicks off a charm offensive to promote coexistence and tolerance, Al Jazeera English reported.
According to the news report published on the Al Jazeera's web page, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Muslim cleric whose proposed Islamic centre near the World Trade Centre site has sparked furore over the summer, has said that he will tour the country in an effort "to inspire interfaith understanding".
The main objective of the tour, which was announced on Friday, is to make people aware of what the United States means as a country that protects the right to freedom of religion.
The Imam believes that US Muslims like himself, "can play an important role as interlocutors between the United States and the Muslim world".
Rauf's first appearance is scheduled for Detroit, the city that hosts North America's largest Muslim population, on January 15.
The imam said that he will continue on to Chicago, Washington, San Antonio and college campuses including Harvard, Georgetown, Yale and the University of North Carolina.
He did not release specific dates for his speeches.
Rauf said he expects the tour to end sometime in April. He is still receiving and considering invitations.
He said that he wants to share his vision with people form different faiths, and that he has been dreaming about the New York project for 20 years.
Imam Rauf said the Islamic centre would be more than just a religious site as it will be "a community space where people of all faiths can come to participate in everything from athletics to cooking classes, adult education programs, and panel discussions on issues of importance".
There also would be theatre productions and film screenings, he added.
In Detroit, Rauf is scheduled to deliver a keynote address to the "Diversity Forum Banquet" of the Islamic Society of North America.
"I want to inspire interfaith understanding," he said. "This past summer, during the demonstrations, we also saw the birth of what we believe to be a global movement of people of all faiths who want to have a better future for their children and grandchildren."
AgenciesLast Mod: 25 Aralık 2010, 14:06