CNN Wire Staff
New York (CNN) - Saying America has let extremists "hijack the agenda," the imam behind a controversial proposal to place an Islamic community center and mosque near Manhattan's ground zero said Monday he wants to create a platform where the voice of moderate Muslims can be amplified.
"This is an opportunity that we must capitalize on, so those who teach moderation will have a megahorn," Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf told the Council on Foreign Relations.
"We come together at a time of great crisis and danger," he said. "What began as a dispute over a community center in lower Manhattan has spawned and grown into a much larger controversy about the relationship between my beloved religion and my beloved country, between Islam and America.
"The events of the past few weeks have really saddened me to my very core," he said. "I regret that some have misunderstood our intentions. I'm deeply distressed that in this heated political season, some have exploited this issue for their own agendas."
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