The imam leading plans for a Muslim community center near the site of the Sept. 11 attacks in New York is in the Middle East on a U.S.-funded outreach trip.
A State Department official in Washington says Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf arrived Thursday in Bahrain to begin a 15-day tour. The trip -- estimated to cost about $16,000 -- will also include Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Details of the imam's schedule have been closely guarded -- possibly in reaction to the rancor in the United States over the proposed Islamic center near the site of the toppled World Trade Center towers.
Rauf is expected to discuss Muslim life in America and religious tolerance. But he is prohibited from raising money for the proposed center.