NEW YORK (CBS 2) — President Barack Obama said Wednesday he has “no regrets” about speaking out about the so-called ground zero mosque, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may have some.
CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reports she is being roundly attacked here for what some call “un-American” remarks about those opposing the mosque.
On Wednesday Pelosi became the latest politician embroiled in the ground zero mosque controversy with what can only be regarded as eye-popping remarks.
“There is no question that there is a concerted effort to make this a political issue by some and I join those who have called for looking into how is this opposition to the mosque being funded,” Pelosi said.
Families of the 9/11 tragedy immediately jumped all over the top House Democrat.
“I think it’s outrageous. She’s investigating 9/11 families whose sons were murdered on 9/11 rather than look at foreign entities that sponsor terrorism? I think she has her priorities mixed up and she’s lost her mind,” said Jim Riches, a former firefighter who lost his son in the World Trade Center attacks.
“They can look into all our funding. We’re regular families, regular citizens, like people who protested in 1776. We’re ordinary citizens and she’s coming out against us because we disagree with her.”
Actually, a lot of people disagree with building a mosque at ground zero.
A new Siena poll found that 63 percent of New Yorkers don’t want the mosque built near ground zero. Only 27 percent support it.
However, 64 percent of voters support the right of the developer to build the mosque at ground zero compared to 28 percent who say they don’t.
Congressman Peter King, who wants to see the mosque built someplace else, was appalled by Speaker Pelosi’s remarks.
“This is absolutely disgraceful what Nancy Pelosi is doing. This is an attempt to stifle free speech,” Rep. King said.
King said Pelosi doesn’t understand that the people opposing the mosque are real people with real losses.
“This is an entirely spontaneous, grassroots level from people who suffered on Sept. 11 that are now suffering again as this mosque just tears their wounds open and pours salt into it. That’s what this movement is,” he said.
When it became clear that Pelosi’s remarks were attracting attention, her office issued a clarification, but it didn’t change much.
In the new statement, she said “We should also ask who is funding the attacks against the construction of the center.”
Pelosi’s comments and the whole idea of the mosque are not sitting well with the leader of the New York Archdiocese. Archbishop Timothy Dolan called Wednesday for a “prudent compromise” to move the mosque to another location.
And Dolan is even offering to help broker the deal.
Dolan compared the so-called mosque controversy to the Carmelite nuns wanting to put a convent near the Auschwitz concentration camp. Pope John Paul II intervened and the convent found another home.
“John Paul II said why don’t we get together civilly, thoughtfully, and with dignity and maybe decide a good solution. And he’s the one who said let’s keep the idea and maybe move the address. It worked there, it might work here,” Dolan told Kramer.
Dolan, the leader of 2.5 million Catholics, said he wants to see a “prudent compromise” and he offered himself as a mediator to bring the developer Sharif el-Gamal, the 9/11 families and other interested parties to the table to work out a compromise.
“If I can be a part, say but the word. In a kind of backdoor way I think we already are,” Dolan said.
Some 9/11 families welcome the archbishop’s intervention.
“I think this is what they should have done long ago. I think it’s right. They should have all the parties come together, talk it over, come to some kind of compromise and I think the Muslim community will be shown an olive branch by trying to move the location and I think it will work out better for everyone,” Riches said.
“There is a clear relationship, a definite analogy between the Carmelite nuns at Auschwitz and the mosque at ground zero. Absolutely. Because there were Catholics killed in the Holocaust but it was primarily Jews. Yes, there were Muslims killed at ground zero but the fact is it was an attack carried out by radical Muslims and to have a mosque within 560 feet of ground zero of hallowed ground is the height of insensitivity,” Rep. King added.
King said he would like to see everyone at the table talking compromise.
“The Muslim leadership should realize that while having a mosque serves as a useful purpose, having it at ground zero is the worst location for it is causing insensitivity. It’s causing suffering and anguish. I think Archbishop Dolan is entirely right,” he said.
There was no response from the mosque developers to request for comment on Archbishop Dolan’s suggestions or his offer to mediate a compromise.
There was also no word on when the governor will meet with the developers.