Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf saw his plans for an Islamic center near ground zero derided as a victory mosque for terrorists, exploited as campaign fodder and used as a bargaining chip by a Florida pastor who vowed to burn the Quran.
After that summer of mistrust and raw feeling, he's looking on the bright side.
Rauf says he hopes to use the platform he gained through the angry debate to turn his small nonprofit group into a global movement celebrating pluralism.
In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press, Rauf said he hopes to see interfaith centers like the one he plans to include inside the downtown Manhattan Islamic center built all over the world. Each would be dedicated to fighting extremism and promoting better relations between people of different faiths and cultures.