Anti-Gay Imam Breaks With Downtown Islamic Cultural Center

Imam Shaykh Abdallah Adhami, a leader at the proposed Islamic cultural center planned for a site several blocks from the World Trade Center whose controversial statements about homosexuality were reported January 26 by NY1 News, has ended his involvement with the project.

“We have been humbled by Imam Adhami’s contributions to this project over the past few months,” Sharif El-Gamal, chief executive officer of SoHo Properties and the president of Park51, as the project is known, said in a written release on February 4. “His teachings and scholarly work on the Islamic faith remain an important part of our community. We look forward to him, God willing, leading prayers informally for Park51 in the near future.”

The NY1 report quoted from a video lecture Adhami produced in 2007 in which he said, “An enormously overwhelming percentage of people struggle with homosexual feeling because of some form of violent emotional or sexual abuse at some point in their life. Again, not necessarily in their childhood. A small, tiny percentage of people are born with a natural inclination they cannot explain. You find this in the animal kingdom on some level as well.”

Adhami’s role at Park51 was announced only weeks ago. According to Downtown Express, Gay City News’ sister publication, his appointment came as tensions grew between El-Gamal and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who had been the public face of the proposed Islamic center as nationwide controversy over the development raged prior to last November’s elections.

In its story last week, NY1 reported that a Park51 spokesperson declined comment on Adhami’s statements about homosexuality.

The project, however, later challenged NY1’s characterization of its response.

“Park51 did issue a statement which categorically refuted those comments and re-clarified the position that Adhami was one of several advisors for the prayer space component of the project,” a spokesperson told Downtown Express this week “and Park51 does not agree with Adhami’s views on homosexuality.”

In the February 4 release from Park51, Adhami said, “It is important for me now to devote my time to the completion of my book which assists English readers in understanding and facilitating the language of the Quran. I wish the project leaders well.”