The imam at the center of the controversy surrounding the proposed Islamic center near New York's ground zero is breaking his silence. He's written an op-ed for the New York Times. He'll also speak to CNN tomorrow night. Plus, new developments in the scholarship scandal involving Texas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson. The Dallas Morning News has found letter's bearing her signature that ask that scholarship money be send directly to her grandsons.
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CNN Wire Staff
New York (CNN) - The imam at the center of an ugly controversy over an Islamic center near New York's ground zero broke his silence Tuesday, just hours after a broad coalition of Christian, Jewish and Islamic leaders denounced what they described as a rising tide of anti-Muslim bigotry across the United States.
"I have been struck by how the controversy has riveted the attention of Americans, as well as nearly everyone I met in my travels," said Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf in an editorial published online by the New York Times Tuesday night.
"We have all been awed by how inflamed and emotional the issue of the proposed community center has become," wrote Rauf, who has just returned from a State Department-sponsored Middle East trip to promote U.S.-Muslim relations. "The level of attention reflects the degree to which people care about the very American values under debate: recognition of the rights of others, tolerance and freedom of worship."
The imam was clear about his intentions.
"We are proceeding with the community center, Cordoba House. More important, we are doing so with the support of the downtown community, government at all levels and leaders from across the religious spectrum, who will be our partners. I am convinced that it is the right thing to do for many reasons," he wrote.
Updated: 9:39 p.m.
AC360° Digital Producer
(CNN) – The Florida pastor who has stoked national and international controversy by announcing a plan to burn Qurans on the upcoming anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks sent mixed message Tuesday in an interview set to air on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360°.
After word of Pastor Terry Jones’ plan spread earlier this week, Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said the burning of Islam's holy books "could cause significant problems" for American troops overseas. "It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort in Afghanistan," Petreus said in a statement issued Monday.
Asked about Petraeus’ remarks, Jones told Cooper, “We are taking his concerns very seriously.”
Earlier: Pastor weighing plans to burn Quarans
Then Jones quickly turned the conversation to suggest that his church’s plan to burn Islam’s holy book is intended as a message of defiance directed at the more radical elements of the religious faith.
“We just also have the concerns: How far do we go as Americans? When do we back down? When do we decide to stand up? How long do we bow to fears and threats? Or when does actually a time come that we speak to radical Islam and say tell them: No more, no longer. We will not be pushed around, and we will not bow to threats.”
Tonight on 360°, hear from the Florida pastor who plans a Quran-burning this Saturday - on the 9th anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks. Pastor Terry Jones says he plans to continue with the event, even though the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan issued a statement warning against it.
Burning copies of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, "could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort in Afghanistan," Gen. David Petraeus said.
Pastor Terry Jones said his goal is "to send a message to radical Muslims." He went on to say, "We don't consider our message of hate. It's a clear message of warning." Keeping him honest, Anderson will ask Jones if the lives of U.S. troops are less important than the message he wants to send.
Also tonight, the imam of the proposed Islamic center near New York's ground zero is breaking his silence on the controversy. Feisal Abdul Rauf has written an op-ed in the New York Times titled, "Building on Faith."
Rauf goes on to describe the center that he would like built two blocks from the former site of the World Trade Center Towers, which were destroyed on September 11, 2001. "We envision shared space for community activities, like a swimming pool, classrooms and a play space for children. There will be separate prayer space for Muslims, Christians, Jews and men and women of other faiths," Rauf wrote.
We'll have more on the op-ed and give you an up-close look at the man behind the message. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf will give an exclusive interview to Soledad O'Brien tomorrow on Larry King. Don't miss that Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET.
And, join us tonight at 10 p.m. ET for these stories and much more.
(CNN) - An alleged bank robber apparently couldn’t quit the habit.
Authorities in Florida said the man tried to rob one bank while on probation for another heist. “He knew the jig was up when we stopped him,” Palm Bay Officer Thomas Krieger told CNN.
William Henry Colleir, 57, of Vero Beach, Florida was charged with one count of robbery, one count of grand theft, and violation of federal probation for robbery, Krieger said.
According to Krieger, Colleir entered a branch of the Riverside National Bank shortly before 2 p.m. Tuesday. “He got verbally aggressive with tellers because they said they had no money,” Krieger told CNN, “and they were concerned he would brandish a weapon.”
Officers who responded to the report of the bank robbery stopped a green Saab that matched the description of the suspect’s vehicle. Krieger said Colleir was arrested without incident. “One of the first admissions out of his mouth was that ‘I’m on felony probation, you guys can take me’” Krieger said.
Krieger did not know the details surrounding the earlier alleged robbery incident.
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Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:
President Barack Obama makes remarks on the economy at the Milwaukee Laborfest Monday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo credit: TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.
Update: Beat 360° Winners:
Cubie King –
"NO SOUP FOR YOU!"
"Whoever owns the red Toyota Camry, with the Alaska license plate, and the Tea Party sticker, please move it. You are in my spot."
Earlier: Texas lawmaker admits mistake in scholarship scandal
(CNN) - In addition to the bevy of stars already signed up for this week’s “Stand Up to Cancer” telethon, actor Michael Douglas will also participate in the event, which will raise funds for cancer research.
The 65-year-old star of the upcoming movie “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” was recently diagnosed with a tumor in his throat, and is currently enduring a bout of radiation and chemotherapy. “It’s a fight,” he told People magazine of his treatment. “It knocks you out.”
Full story on the Marquee blog
CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - With the momentum of Joe Miller's surprising win over Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the Alaska Republican Senate primary, the Tea Party movement is setting its sights on Delaware.
The Tea Party Express on Tuesday announced its support for Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell, outlining plans for an aggressive campaign effort in the days leading up to the Sept. 14 Republican primary.
The race pits O'Donnell against moderate U.S. Rep. Mike Castle, a two-term Delaware governor and a Congressman since 1993.
The group outlined plans to hold several events for the candidate over the next week, including a rally on the Delaware Capitol Mall Wednesday, and a radio-thon on WDEL that promises to have "big names" calling in to endorse O'Donnell.
(CNN) - Tuesday was the first day of classes at the Portland, Oregon, school where Kyron Horman allegedly was last seen in early June. The new year at Skyline Elementary also brings additional security measures to protect the children and staff.
In a letter to parents, Principal Ben Keefer said video cameras will be installed this weekend at Skyline. "These cameras will show external views of the building as well as the main hallway," he wrote. Also, security procedures will be reviewed to ensure they are effective, he added.
Tributes, messages, posters and cards that adorned a "Wall of Hope" for the missing 7-year-old boy were moved Tuesday from school property to a fence outside a nearby fire station, said the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.
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