WASHINGTON (AP) -- A New York imam and his proposed mosque near ground zero are being demonized by political candidates - mostly Republicans - despite the fact that Islam is already very much a part of the World Trade Center neighborhood. And that Muslims pray inside the Pentagon, too, less than 80 feet from where terrorists attacked.


And that the imam who's being branded an extremist has been valued by both Republican and Democratic administrations as a moderate face of the faith.

Even so, the project stirs complicated emotions, and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is a complex figure who defies easy categorization in the American Muslim world.

He's devoted much of his career to working closely with Christians, Jews and secular leaders to advance interfaith understanding. He's scolded his own religion for being in some ways in the "Dark Ages." Yet he's also accused the U.S. of spilling more innocent blood than al-Qaida, the terrorist network that turned the World Trade Center, part of the Pentagon and four hijacked airplanes to apocalyptic rubble.

FULL AP STORY FOLLOWS BELOW