America's most controversial imam – the man at the centre of the storm over plans for the "Ground Zero Mosque" in New York last year – flew into Edinburgh yesterday to tell the Festival of Spirituality and Peace that greater integration between Islam and the West depends on the incorporation of Sharia law into the legal systems of the UK and the United States as well as Muslims adopting the culture of their host countries.
Many see Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf as an Islamic moderate even though he has been vilified in the US press as an apologist for radical Muslims. In an interview with the Sunday Herald, Rauf said he believes the world is in the grip of a "dangerous myth" and "self-fulfilling prophecy" that "Islam and the West are at war. But the real battleground is not between Islam and the West, but between the wise, fair-minded people of all faith traditions and the extremists."
Although he is a pro-US imam who has argued that America is the embodiment of Islam's ideal society, Rauf became a hate figure in the US over the so-called Ground Zero Mosque. The plan offended relatives of the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and led to a US pastor proposing a "Burn a Koran day".