Abu Dhabi: Imam Faisal Abdul Rauof, a central figure in plans to build a Muslim community centre in Lower Manhattan, New York, near the site of the September 11, 2001 attacks, urged followers of all faiths to join hands against radicalism, which he says exists in all religions.

"We are all in this together ... there is a common threat: Radicalism, which exists in all religions," Abdul Rauof told WAM in an interview in Abu Dhabi.

"The real battlefront is not between Muslims and non-Muslims. The real battlefront is between moderates and extremists."

Abdul Rauof is the founder and chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, an independent, non-partisan and multi-national project which he says works with state and non-state actors to improve relations between Muslim-West relations, and in particular Muslim-US relations because "the US is the most influential player in the West and because the US is my home base".

He is in the UAE as part of a mission from the US government to promote religious tolerance.

Bahrain and Qatar

The imam's trip also took in Bahrain and Qatar.

While in the UAE, Abdul Rauof is holding meetings with senior officials, Muslim scholars and university students.

"We are making efforts to bridge the divide through projects in youth and gender relations and the current media frenzy, and look at not only the issues between Muslims and non-Muslims but also at the issues that are important for us to address within the Muslim Ummah," Abdul Rauof said.

Personal relationships

The idea, he explained, is "to develop personal and professional relationships with other institutions involved in religious and spiritual work".

"The UAE is among the Gulf countries that are very interesting because they are very conscious on geopolitical issues," he said.

"The UAE is also among the countries whose people are very sensitive to and deeply aware of the regional political issues and sociological issues and are very desirous to solve them. The UAE, along with other smaller Gulf countries, play a different role in the overall narrative that is taking place geopolitically," he said.