Obama Speaks Out in Favor of Mosque Near Ground Zero

Friday, August 13, 2010

President Barack Obama has spoken out in favor of allowing a controversial mosque to be built near Ground Zero.

At a White House dinner Friday evening celebrating the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, the president said that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else. He said that includes the right to build a place of worship on private property in lower Manhattan.

In the president's remarks as prepared for delivery at the dinner, he noted that, "We must all recognize and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of lower Manhattan. The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country. The pain and suffering experienced by those who lost loved ones is unimaginable. So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. Ground Zero is, indeed, hallowed ground.

"But let me be clear: as a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone 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 unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are."

It's the first time the president has commented on the proposed mosque and cultural center, which has sparked a national debate. Previously, the White House had said it was a local issue.

Leading Republicans, including Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, oppose building the mosque near the spot where the World Trade Center once stood.

After Obama made his remarks, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who supports the proposed mosque and cultural center, issued a statement invoking a famous letter penned 220 years ago this week by President George Washington to the Jewish community of Newport, Rhode Island. "President Obama's words tonight evoked President Washington's own August reminder that 'all possess alike liberty,'" Bloomberg said. "As I said last week, this proposed mosque and community center in Lower Manhattan is as important a test of the separation of church and state as we may see in our lifetime, and I applaud President Obama's clarion defense of the freedom of religion tonight."


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Comments [10]

1 voice from nyc at heart

isnt obama muslim???

Nov. 01 2010 11:59 AM
YZ from Brooklyn

The more astute commentary I have heard with regard to how to rebuild "ground zero" has pointed toward building it back the way it was and carrying on with business. I'm not in love with any nation-state so I don't want to invoke some kind of American rallying cry, but in the strictest sense of the idea, moving on and continuing to live life is how the strongest and most admirable human beings deal with loss, with trauma, and with pain.

With that in mind, a mosque would have certainly been welcome at that site ten years ago. What if it had been built then? Would you be petitioning to have it shut down now?

As human beings, the longer we allow our traumas and painful memories to interrupt our everyday ideas about freedom and equality and what have you, the longer it will take for us to move forward as a species toward unification and understanding one another.

In some part of the world or even New York, there will be anti-American flag-burning festivals every night, celebrations of the attacks, and Americans should get used to that idea until everyone in the world agrees about politics and ideology.

Aug. 14 2010 04:26 PM
Nick from UWS

Religion, all religion, is an irrational thought system created by delusional people, the purpose of which is to create an army of new delusional people to consolidate the power base of the leaders of religions.

No religion should be taken seriously in the discussion of adult issues in a modern society.

People who walk around claiming they are "acting in the service of God", as if they know what God is, and are claiming the tenents of their "belief" to be facts should be viewed with extreme suspicion and caution. Religious freedom often means the freedom to be insane.

Aug. 14 2010 12:35 PM

President Obama coming out in favor of this controversial Mosque (and it is 1st a mosque and 2nd, a cultural center) to be built near Ground Zero is for me a surprise and disappointment.

This isn't about Religious Rights, or being anti Muslim; It's about doing the right thing! Yes, it's politically correct, but that doesn't make it right.

Only about 7% of 9/11 victims were Muslim, so why not a true Interfaith Center for ALL the victims of 9/11? This would make more sense now, and be more considerate to the friends & families of the victims who view this area as sacred ground.

In 50 years it probably wouldn't matter, but today, being so close in time to the event it does matter.

Aug. 14 2010 11:50 AM
Lou Ann from Alameda, CA

To all people of faith:
It is time for us to step forward to defend the right of ALL Americans to freely worship in America. The fearful and bigoted must NOT drown out our freedoms. I am a Christian and I do not want my church to be condemned because of fearmongering and bigotry. All our faiths call on us to Love One Another. Let our voices be heard.

Aug. 14 2010 11:07 AM

quote Today I am ashamed that I have a President short- sighted enough so as ignore the historic precedence of Muslim victories being marked by a mosque.endquote

this is pure hate speech. it's historic claptrap. prejudice. ugly lying accusations designed solely to deny the basic human decency fundamental to civilized society. it's a denial of the most fundamental principles of the US constitutional order.

Aug. 14 2010 08:42 AM

there is one and only one reason to deny muslims the right to study, to share, and to worship, and that reason is hate and prejudice.

any hemming and hawing and but if or my best friends are about it is nothing more than and nothing less than dishonesty about the basic hate fear and prejudice that denies me my family and my loved ones the basic human right and human decency to mourn, to love each other and to serve god's mercy.

you demand that i make excuses for practicing islam. that way you show who you are what you are and your own lack of faith in a just god or a just government.

no i won't stop loving praying and serving god's mercy because you are afraid to.

Mr. Isa Kocher, disabled american USA vet.

Aug. 14 2010 08:36 AM
Patrick Oliver from New York

Two problems with calling it the "Ground Zero Mosque". 1. Its not a Mosque, its a community center and 2. Its not at Ground Zero. But the right wing in this country has never been that interested in facts, especially if they get in the way of a good round of extremist ideological hysteria. So I'm probably being naive even pointing this out.

Aug. 14 2010 08:06 AM

I was in Kenya when Obama was elected. I cheered. I laughed in delight. I celebrated. Today I grieve. Absolutely, we should all hold onto and work to preserve the amazing privilege of our nation that all may worship and believe as they may. I would fight long and hard to support a mosque being built anywhere but in direct site of the atrocity at Ground Zero done, unfortunately, by radicals of the same belief that shared the tradition of marking places of domination by building a mosque. Islam is not just a religion, it is also a political belief. And there is no way those choosing to build on a site in view of ground zero is an accident. If it were, then perhaps our President could have used his leverage to plead for consideration of shared national grief and consolidation. Today I am ashamed that I have a President short- sighted enough so as ignore the historic precedence of Muslim victories being marked by a mosque. Do they have the right to build there? Yes. Is it the most ethical and considerate thing to do? Hardly. And it is unfair for a national monument of grief to be marred by a memorial of victory of those that violently assaulted us all. I have defended President Obama many times over the past year. I will not do so again. Today's short-sighted announcement is grievous indeed.

Aug. 13 2010 10:42 PM
tleespirit from California

Obama is a brave and courageous president- who is not afraid to speak his mind. Religious freedom for all is a cornerstone of America and he is absolutely right to speak out in favor of this basic right for all citizens. Islam is a religion with the same core pillars of community -forgiveness - tithing-prayer- and love that religions all across the globe share. Go OBAMA - YOU rock!

Aug. 13 2010 09:55 PM

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