"Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country," he said. "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 acknowledged the concerns of some who are opposed to the Islamic mosque being built so close to the site of the 9/11 horrors.
"The pain and suffering experienced by those who lost loved ones is unimaginable," Obama said. "So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. Ground zero is, indeed, hallowed ground."
He said one "reason that we will win this fight" against terrorism is "our capacity to show not merely tolerance, but respect to those who are different from us -- a way of life that stands in stark contrast to the nihilism of those who attacked us on that September morning, and who continue to plot against us today."
Opponents are outraged by the president's support. Rep. Peter King called it "wrong".
"It is insensitive and uncaring for the Muslim community to build a mosque in the shadow of Ground Zero," King said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the President caved into political correctness. While the Muslim community has the right to build the mosque, they are abusing that right by needlessly offending so many people who have suffered so much. The right and moral thing for President Obama to have done was to urge Muslim leaders to respect the families of those who died and move their mosque away from Ground Zero."
While I understand the fear and intense emotion of the subject, I don't see what else the leader of a nation built on freedoms that include religion could do but support the mosque.
I think Michael Gerson, a former senior aide for George W. Bush, said it well:
"An enormously complex and emotional issue -- but ultimately the right thing to do," Gerson told politico.com. "A president is president for every citizen, including every Muslim citizen. Obama is correct that the way to marginalize radicalism is to respect the best traditions of Islam and protect the religious liberty of Muslim Americans. It is radicals who imagine an American war on Islam. But our conflict is with the radicals alone."
What do you think of the president's support for the mosque near Ground Zero?
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