US president Barack Obama backs mosque near Ground Zero site
Monday, August 16, 2010
US Barack Obama has endorsed permitting a mosque to be built a few blocks away from the site where terrorists intentionally crashed two planes into the World Trade Center towers in 2001, otherwise known as 'Ground Zero'. The site is located in New York City.
Obama, who stated his endorsement at an annual dinner celebrating the Islamic holiday of , said, "As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable."
Reaction to the presidential endorsement was mixed. New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, a staunch supporter of building the Cordoba House Islamic Center, has said that Obama's comments were a "clarion defense of the freedom of religion." However, many Republicans were angry, including US Representative Peter King, Republican-New York, who said that "President Obama is wrong." Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer stated that "the governor of New York offered to help find land to build the mosque elsewhere. A mosque really seeking to build bridges ... would accept the offer." Other right-wing politicians, including Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, have opposed the mosque, calling the World Trade Center site "hallowed ground."