Did you do enough politicking, if you like, at a grassroots, local level to involve everybody in the community, including the 9/11 families?
RAUF: Well, we certainly had reached out.
And this -- this project was front page news in "The New York Times" last December. No one objected. What has happened is that since May -- five, six months later, for political reasons, certain politicians decided that this project would be very useful for their political ambitions.
AMANPOUR: Sarah Palin made a -- a famous Tweet saying please reconsider, the feelings are too raw.
What did you think about that?
RAUF: I felt it disingenuous, to a certain extent. The fact of the matter is, A, this has been used for political purposes. And there's growing Islamophobia in this country.
How else would you describe the fact that mosques around the country are now being attacked? We are Americans, too. As -- we are -- we are treated and talked about today as if -- as if American Mus -- and Muslims are not Americans.
We are Americans. We -- we -- we are -- we are doctors. We are investment bankers. We are taxi drivers. We are store keepers. We are lawyers. We are -- we are part of the fabric of America.
And the way that America today treats its Muslims is being watched by over a billion Muslims worldwide. And the battleground today, Christiane, is not between Islam and the West. The battleground has been moderates of all faith traditions in all the countries of the world against the radicals of all faith traditions in all parts of the world.
AMANPOUR: There's a pastor, Pastor Jones in Florida. What would have happened if the pastor had gone ahead and burnt those Korans?
RAUF: It would have created a -- a disaster in the Muslim world. It would have strengthened the radicals. It would have enhanced the possibility of terrorist acts against America and American interests.
AMANPOUR: And the solution might be that the pastor would not burn the Korans if you would move the Islamic center way away from where you plan it now.
Does that sound like a reasonable compromise?
RAUF: You can't equate the two, Christiane. How can you equate burning of any person's scripture with an attempt to build interfaith dialogue?
This is a house with multi-faith stakeholders, with multi-faith partners intended to work together toward building peace.
AMANPOUR: Did you ever imagine that recommending or suggesting or buying a place so close to Ground Zero would cause this kind of controversy?
AMANPOUR: And if you thought it would have provoked this kind of controversy, what would you have done?
RAUF: I would never have done it. I'm a man of peace. I mean the whole -- the whole objective of peace work is not to do something that would provoke controversy.
AMANPOUR: In the latest poll that ABC has conducted, only 37 percent of those who were asked expressed a positive feeling about Islam.
Do you think that Moslems, people such as yourself, others here, can actually have a place to practice their religion freely, to live freely as Americans, given that figure?
It's the most -- it's the lowest figure since 2001.