TRENTON, N.J. (CBS 2) — There was strong condemnation Monday from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie of the Democrats and Republicans who have weighed in on the ground zero mosque debate.
CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reports Christie said lawmakers are playing politics with a religious issue and its making all Americans suffer.
When asked how to end the screaming over the mosque and cultural center proposed for the area near the World Trade Center site, Christie told Kramer, “You stop playing politics with it Marcia. That’s just the first solution. You stop playing politics.”
Christie wants the shouting to stop, and that includes President Barack Obama.
“What offends me the most about all of this is it is being used as a political football by both parties and what disappoints me about the president’s remarks is that he’s now using it as a political football as well and I think that the President of the United States should rise above that,” Christie said.
With ground zero being rebuilt by the bi-state Port Authority, and with many New Jersey residents having died in the 9-11 attack, Christie says he has standing to say the mosque should be taken out of the political realm and should be dealt with privately and quietly.
But after Christie spoke Monday, the voices appeared to get louder.
Across the river, New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg expressed strong feelings.
“If we shout down a mosque and community center because it is two blocks away from the site where freedom was attacked, I think it would be a sad day for America,” Bloomberg said.
Across America and right here in the New York-New Jersey area politicians are lining up for and against the mosque.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday, it should be built somewhere else.
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand supports the mosque where it is. New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez supports the constitutional right of developers to build the mosque where they want.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo supports it. Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio is against it.
Meanwhile, Mahmoud al-Zahar, a leader of the Hamas terror group in Gaza, insists that the mosque be built by ground zero.
“We have to build the mosque as you are allowed to build the church and Israelis are building their holy place,” Zahar said.
To Gov. Christie, the question is whether Democrats and Republicans heed his message and whether a mediator emerges to forge consensus.
Spokesmen for New York Sen. Charles Schumer and New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg did not return our calls asking for their positions on the ground zero mosque proposal.