By Julie Shapiro
LOWER MANHATTAN — The Park51 imam who sparked controversy by saying people become homosexual as a result of abuse is stepping down, Park51’s leaders announced Friday.
The imam, Abdallah Adhami, said in a statement that he needed to devote more time to a book he is writing about the Koran.
Sharif El-Gamal, one of the directors of Park51, said Adhami would still have an unofficial role in the planned mosque and community center but would not serve as its spiritual leader.
"[Adhami's] teachings and scholarly work on the Islamic faith remain an important part of our community," El-Gamal said in a statement. "We look forward to him, God willing, leading prayers informally for Park51 in the near future."
Park51 had just announced Adhami’s appointment as the organization’s first senior adviser three weeks ago. He was supposed to spearhead religious and interfaith programming for the future 13-story center near Ground Zero.
But when press reports uncovered controversial remarks Adhami made in a lecture series, the backlash was swift. Adhami had said most gay people suffered "some form of violent emotional or sexual abuse at some point in their life."
Park51 did not mention Adhami’s remarks in the press release announcing his departure.