NYC
01/31/2011 02:40 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Park51 Imam Abdallah Adhami Has Controversial Views On Homosexuality

Supporters of a proposed Islamic community center near Ground Zero may take issue with some of the views of the center's new imam.

In past lectures, Abdallah Adhami described being gay as a "painful trial."

"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," Adhami said. "A small, tiny percentage of people are born with a natural inclination that they cannot explain. You find this in the animal kingdom at some level as well."

Fred Sainz, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, was dismayed by Adhami's comments. He told The New York Post, "When a religious leader of his standing opens up his mouth and spews this kind of ignorance and hateful statements, it does put his greater judgment into question," Sainz said.

Adhami also made comments suggesting he believed that if an ex-Muslim speaks out against Islam, they should be imprisoned.

"If someone leaves the din, leaves the path privately, they cannot be touched," Adhami said. "If someone preaches about apostasy or preaches their views, they're jailed . . . Many jurists have said they have to be killed."

The community center's organizers have sought to distance themselves from Adhami's views. The imam was first identified this month as a "senior adviser," but organizers have since said he is only an adviser. They also said his views do not reflect those of the project.

Mayor Bloomberg, one of the center's strongest supporters, declined to comment on Adhami's controversial statements.

"I think it's very dangerous if the city government tries to criticize people and what they say, especially when it comes to religion," Bloomberg said.