Saturday, August 14, 2010

President Obama Praised & Criticized for Backing Mosque

The planned mosque and community center two blocks away from the site of the 9/11 attacks has drawn intense criticism from politicians including Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich. The Obama administration had previously said that the planned Islamic community center was a local matter.

On Friday, the president tackled the issue head on.
"As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country," Obama said, according to the AP.

"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," he said. "This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable."

The president compared opposition to times in American history when there had been hostility towards the building of Catholic churches and Jewish synagogues.

"Time and again, the American people have demonstrated that we can work through these issues, and stay true to our core values and emerge stronger for it. So it must be and will be today," Obama said.

The developer on the project, Sharif el-Gamal, told The New York Times, "We are deeply moved and tremendously grateful for our president's words."

But Republicans were quick to attack the comments, saying that the President of the United States was focusing on religious freedom and civil rights rather than the feelings of victims' families and public opinion.

Not all the reaction was hostile. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, has been a strong supporter of the community center. He called Obama's speech a "clarion defense of the freedom of religion."

Speaking on Aug. 3, Bloomberg said that the city government had no authority to stop the planned project, and that to do so would amount to discrimination.

"The simple fact is this building is private property, and the owners have a right to use the building as a house of worship," Bloomberg said. "The government has no right whatsoever to deny that right."


Susan Ramey Cleveland said...

Some idiot on CNN (I believe) said that President Obama had now declared a jihad against America. I wish all idiots were born with the inability to taok.

Ramey Channell said...

The statement that got my goat was "The president was focusing on religious freedom and civil rights rather than public opinion." Well, duh!