The proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque near the site of the September 11 attacks in New York was worth the controversy, because it aired difficulties faced by Muslims in the United States, the center's imam said yesterday.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations think tank, asked rhetorically whether building the center was “worth all this firestorm,” and answered “categorically yes.”

Rauf and other organizers of the project have repeatedly rejected moving it from the planned location two blocks from the site of the toppled World Trade Center.


He acknowledged, however, that pressure to move the center had risen in recent weeks as it became a national political issue.

“We are exploring all options as we speak right now and we are working through what will be a solution,” Rauf said.

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