Obama Says He's In Favor Of Islamic Center At Ground Zero

NEW YORK (CBS 2/1010 WINS) — There were growing tensions Friday between Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Gov. David Paterson.

The mayor doesn’t like the governor’s suggestion that the ground zero mosque be moved elsewhere.

Now it appears neither does President Barack Obama.

The president came out in favor of the mosque plan on Friday, saying that Muslims had the same right to practice their religion as anyone else.  The president made his remarks at a dinner at the White House celebrating the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

“As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country,” Obama said, weighing in for the first time on a controversy that has riled up New York City and the nation.

“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.”

Mayor Bloomberg issued the following statement in response to the president’s remarks:

“Two hundred and twenty years ago this week, the Father of Our Country penned his famous letter to the Jewish Community of Newport, Rhode Island or, as he called them, ‘the Children of the Stock of Abraham.’ President Obama’s words tonight evoked President Washington’s own August reminder that ‘all possess alike liberty.’ 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.”

In taking a stand, the President is fighting a rising tide of opposition to the so-called Cordoba House proposed for Park Place, a short walk from where the twin towers fell, CBS 2’s Lou Young reports.

And while Mayor Bloomberg welcomed the president’s support, opponents are disappointed with his comments.

Sally Reganhard, who lost a son on 9/11, told Young the issue was not “religion or terrorism,” but rather a “total lack of sensitivity. ”

The Bloomberg-Paterson squabble picked up steam late this week. Hizzoner was apparently too polite to tell Paterson to butt out the other day, when the state’s top dog stood beside him and suggested moving the ground zero mosque.

But on Friday it was gloves off — no more Mr. nice guy, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.

LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks reports

“The governor really does try to make our lives better but this … probably not the number one expertise that he has is in site selection, and that’s a nice way to put it,” Bloomberg said on his radio show.

Going mano-a-mano, Bloomberg trashed Paterson’s suggestion, saying giving them state land wouldn’t hold up in court.

“I didn’t understand the governor’s offer because I thought the law was you can’t give away state property,” Bloomberg said.

But Paterson didn’t give an inch.

“The governor is trying to help diffuse a situation that has become quite tense,” said a spokesman.

The developers have said they’re willing to at least talk to the governor, but some people who attended Friday worship services at the ground zero mosque said they didn’t see the point.

“It’s not just moving the mosque somewhere. There’s no mosque around. We have thousands of Muslims working around here. If there’s no mosque there’s no where to pray,” Bronx resident Sheik Barry said.

“We are citizens. We are U.S. citizens. We are allowed to be wherever we want to be to worship. I think we have the right to do that,” said Idi Idrissa of Columbia, N.J.

“It is not me to make a decision. It is not me. It is the almighty. If he wishes he can give us a place here. If he wishes he can give anywhere,” added Mirza Asab Baig of East Brunswick, N.J.

“I think that the governor doesn’t realize that the lead opposition to the mosque being where it is is a federally recognized hate group. They’re like our KKK,” said Zead Ramadan of the Council on American-Islamic Relations of New York.

Even with the involvement of the mayor and the governor it doesn’t look like this is an issue that is going to be settled any time soon.

Meanwhile, the imam of the mosque, Faisal Abdul Rauf, is setting off next week on a two-week trip to the Middle East funded by the State Department. He’ll be visiting Bahrain, Doha and Abu Dhabi.

(TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
Comments (26)
  1. 5811 says:

    Sounds kinda like the Obama administration….. World Domination.. after all is is Muslim and in our white house..

  2. American Worker says:

    Will the American Construction workers Union and Non Union the same workers who worked side by side facing the same dangers as the Emergency service personel recovering the victims of the Trade center build it.?
    Will the Union and Non union american truck drivers the same workers who hauled recovery tools and supplys non stop from across america want to haul the building materials?
    Will building supply companys have the building materials to ship?
    The politicians gave the permits let them roll up there shirt sleeves and strap on a tool belt and build it.
    There are some houses of worship of all religions across this country that are having financial problems keeping there doors open . How does this group come up with 100 million dollars to build this building ?

  3. Per Giuliani says:

    This is not a question of religion or freedom.
    Is your freedom more worth than mine?
    It is about paying respect to the victims and their loved ones.
    It is like the KKK opening up an information center in black Haarlem or Anacostia, DC.
    All KKK members may not want to lynch blacks, but it is still important to some.
    All muslims may not want to kill americans (even american moslems), but some do.

  4. KATHLEEN says:


  5. cc says:

    Not the place. Go find one of empty city owned properties for this,

  6. Patrick Warner says:

    Would not the building of a mosque there be akin to building a Shinto Tenple at or near Pearl Harbor? Or how about a peace loving Muslim mosqie or cultural center at Munich where 11 Israeli Olympic athletes were murdered? Or how about this ongoing project in Brooklyn, New York, in a neighborood called Ditmas Park to build a Muslim Brooklyn Community and Youth Center whose stated ” ideals include service to humanity, speaking out against injustice, and promoting a high moral standard amongst society” through “the implementation of a program that seeks to achieve these ideals which they call Iqamat-ud-Deen, the establishment of the Islamic system of life. ” So it begs to ask the question, would not New Yorkers have acute anxiety if the mosque near Ground Zero followed these same ideals and same implentation? Is Iqamat-ud-Deen, the establishment of the Islamic system of life not to be considered as a real plot to overthrow our government and not to be considered a treasonous and subversive movement? Why does the IRS give tax emempt status to those who make donations to such organiztions that espouse to replace to topple our government and replace it with the establishment of the Islamic system of life by implementing Iqamat-ud-Deen? What does Iqamat-du-Deen mean to the Muslim citizens and residents of the United States of America?

  7. Karina Maleski says:

    why and who is telling me my comment needs moderation?

  8. Karina Maleski says:

    This is not about freedom of religion, but about being considerate of other people’s sensitivities. No one is saying the mosque should NOT be built, but why so close to Ground Zero? How about it? A whole center with a pool and restaurant a stone’s throw away where thousands died.,

  9. Karina Maleski says:

    This is not about freedom of religion. No one is saying NOT to build a mosque, just don’t build it so close to Ground Zero. If Imam Rauf is really interested in bridging religion and culture, he should understand the sensitivity of building a mosque at such a location. Not all Moslems are terrorists, but the 9/11 attacks were made in the name of Islam.

    1. Ben says:

      Like one radio presenter once said: Not all Muslims are terrorists but all our terrorist have been Muslims…

  10. Headly says:

    The developers submitted a flawed plan to develop land they don’t own and failed to disclose this key information. It makes us pause to wonder what other major flaws were not revealed in that plan?

  11. EWagner635 says:

    So the real solution is remove the muslims from the area then there will be no need for a mosque.

  12. Freedom for All says:

    Really, these anti-mosque “patriots” want the Saudi standard to decide how much freedom our citizens enjoy? That’s your standard, instead of following our own Constitution? The mayor’s right – if we give up our basic freedoms, we’re giving up the very principles our country was founded on.

    It’s time to stop ignorantly painting all Muslims with the same brush. The people proposing Park51 are Sufis, the most tolerant, pacifist, and pro-modernist sect within Islam. There are no Sufi jihadists. Our country is at war with a terrorist organization, al-Qaeda – not Islam, and not Muslims.

    1. Benv says:

      You are the one who is extremely naive about Islam! Sufis are expulsed from Muslim society. They are not allowed to practice in Islam and are underground movements. They have been executed and beheaded for centuries and are not accepted by Islam. Islam don’t accept doctrines that talks about drunkedness and having sex!
      God, people, why don’t you understand a bit more about the Middle east before you defend something you have no clue about!

  13. NOMOSQUE says:

    You are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. You would be beheaded. Find somewhere else to build your mosque.

  14. Nizo says:

    Ralph, Freedom should not be given to people who don’t understand it. you are asking for trouble…wait until muslim population hits 20%

  15. Donald .P says:

    This should have been a non issue,but business is business with Bloomy.

    This new site is confusing,hesitating on coming back

  16. Ralph says:

    To Star,

    This is exactly what makes America great. It is because we are allowed the freedom of many things (inluding religion). If we take these freedoms away, we would fall to inferior levels like these other countries so greatly display.

    1. Ben says:

      Oh great observation! Then why should we restrict freedom for terrorists to come here too and exercise their religion? They read the exact same book as is being taught in the mosques. They are no vagrants of society, but heroes and martyrs in all of Arabia.
      Besides, child molesters too want freedom to exercice their rights according to the constitution. So does KluKluxKlan, and serial killers…. why exclude them if our reasoning is so poor about the human rights violation also known as ISLAM?

      1. IM says:

        Peace Ben
        Do you think Muslims are terrorists? are Muslims
        Americans terrorists? It is metioned in the Quran
        that killing one human being is like killing
        entire humanity and saving one life is like saving
        entire humanity, and this is being taught in
        mosques. Yet the biggest terrorist ever is Hitler, i
        am wondering from which mosque did he learn his art
        of terrorism.
        Islam is a religion created by God not by men, so
        if any human rights made up by men go against the
        laws of God then men are violating the
        laws set for men by God, and if men insist in doing
        wrong then may God keep us from the wrongdoers.


  17. Star says:

    You know, if anyone of the Americans here tried to build a Church in Mecca, we would be beheaded and our families killed because we are non-muslim. How is it that Muslims are allowed to build here then? Believe me, I know the answer to that but it had to be said.

    1. Zoubair says:

      precisely: THIS is the United States of America and not Saudi Arabia. Here we have freedom of religion. Comparing us to Saudi Arabia is so irrelevant. The argument is like denying freedom of speech in America to some people because there is no freedom of speech in Saudi Arabia.

    2. IM says:

      Peace! What about having a mosque inside the vatican? the pope will say no.
      So Saudi Arabia is the vatican of Muslims(= those who submit to the will of God).
      I don’t remember the USA being mentioned in the Bible or the Quran, but still
      Islam is the fastest growing religion in the USA, so why do you think
      that building a mosque in the USA is a problem.
      I highly recommend you to read the Quran (http://allahsquran.com/read/index.php)
      and you will understand why so many Americans are embracing Islam.
      Stay in peace!

    3. Ben says:

      Not only building a church: try wearing a cross or bringing in a bible into the country… Not allowed at all. with that kind of mindset being the core of Muslim culture and thought, its simply amazing that its inhumane and intolerant “religion” should be allowed to be inhumane and intolerant here too. Its so absurd its almost unreal that its happening!

      1. IM says:

        Peace Ben
        Islam ( Peace acquired by submitting to the will of God)
        you know that now people just wear the cross only for fashion.
        Jesus never died on the cross ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPzZRn0lHXc ) why
        then mention the cross. If the entire bible was the word of
        God there should be no problem taking it to Saoudi Arabia.
        Islam is intolerant to the rapist, the robber, the criminal, the
        drinker….. Islam is intolerant to anyone or anything bad to the Society.
        Islam is for humanity, there is not a single verse in the Quran that is against
        humanity as a whole, not a single. Just see it, why do so many Americans embrace

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