President Barack Obama defended the plan to build a mosque near the site of the 2001 terror attacks in New York, telling Muslim guests at a Ramadan dinner at the White House that the nation’s commitment to freedom of religion “must be unshakable.”
Mr. Obama’s remarks came after weeks of the White House sidestepping the debate that has roiled New York and the nation since developers announced plans to build a $100 million, 13-story mosque and Islamic cultural center just two blocks from the World Trade Center site.
Opponents, particularly conservatives, have called the proposed mosque an affront to those who died in the attack by Islamist terrorists.
The president, in his prepared remarks for the Friday evening event, said, “I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. Ground Zero is, indeed, hallowed ground.
“But let me be clear: as a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan,” he said.
“…This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable,” Mr. Obama said.
Debra Burlingame, whose brother Charles Burlingame was the pilot of the plane the terrorists hijacked and flew into the Pentagon, said she was furious over the president’s remarks.
“I’m so angry. I believe this president has abandoned the American people,” she said. “This isn’t a fight about religious freedom for Muslims. No one has argued they don’t have the property rights. This is about a project led by someone who says he’s trying to build bridges and bring the community together and he’s chosen probably the worst place in America and the worst way to do it.”
I’ll make a prediction.
Obama’s poll numbers are gonna take a little dip.
For a more reasoned, less nuanced look at this issue, I bring you some Krauthammer:
A place is made sacred by a widespread belief that it was visited by the miraculous or the transcendent (Lourdes, the Temple Mount), by the presence there once of great nobility and sacrifice (Gettysburg), or by the blood of martyrs and the indescribable suffering of the innocent (Auschwitz).
When we speak of Ground Zero as hallowed ground, what we mean is that it belongs to those who suffered and died there — and that such ownership obliges us, the living, to preserve the dignity and memory of the place, never allowing it to be forgotten, trivialized, or misappropriated.
President Obama is not living up to this obligation.
This will not sit well with the American people.