Not everyone in the Cairo lecture hall last February was buying the imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's message. As he talked of reconciliation between America and Middle Eastern Muslims — his voice soft, almost New Agey — some questioners were so suspicious that he felt the need to declare that he was not an American agent.
Muslims need to understand and soothe Americans who fear them, the imam said; they should be conciliatory, not judgmental, toward the West and Israel.
But one young Egyptian asked: Wasn't the United States financing the speaking tour that had brought the imam to Cairo because his message conveniently echoed United States interests?
"I'm not an agent from any government, even if some of you may not believe it," the imam replied. "I'm not. I'm a peacemaker."