Tags: | obama | ground | zero | mosque | families | gop

9/11 Families Blast Obama's Speech Supporting Ground Zero Mosque

Saturday, 14 Aug 2010 02:12 PM

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One of the leading groups representing families who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks blasted President Barack Obama Saturday for supporting the construction of a mosque near the site of the attack.

The group 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America said it was "stunned" by the president's remarks.

Obama "has abandoned America at the place where America's heart was broken nine years ago, and where her true values were on display for all to see," the group said.

"Now this president declares that the victims of 9/11 and their families must bear another burden. We must stand silent at the last place in America where 9/11 is still remembered with reverence or risk being called religious bigots."



Building the mosque "is a deliberately provocative act that will precipitate more bloodshed in the name of Allah," the group claimed.

Several prominent Republican leaders on Saturday also attacked Obama’s speech and suggested the motive behind the mosque was deliberately provocative.

"He is ignoring the will of the American public," former Sen. Rick Santorum, who represented Pennsylvania in the Senate, told Fox News on Friday. The community center would "desecrate the ground of those who were murdered by people who practice the faith, or at least an element of the faith, that is being represented by that mosque."

"Islam is not just a religion, it is also a political doctrine," Santorum said.
Ahead of the dinner talk, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin asked on her Twitter account: "Will Obama express US lingering pain & ask Muslims for tolerance by discouraging 9/11 mosque while he celebrates Islamic holy month tonight?" Both she and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have said the mosque should not be built.

Later she re-Tweeted without comment a headline about Obama's mosque endorsement.

Congressman Peter King, who represents New York in the US House of Representatives, said the Muslim community was "abusing" its rights and "needlessly offending" many people.

"It is insensitive and uncaring for the Muslim community to build a mosque in the shadow of ground zero," said King, a Republican. "Unfortunately the president caved in to political correctness."

Self-described "liberal Muslim" Farzana Hassan, a Canadian, told Fox News on Saturday that she believes the Islamic center's location is "provocative."

"This is highly insensitive to the sentiments of the people who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks," said Hassan, who has written books on Islam.
One commenter on a New York Daily News political blog said that the hostility towards Christians and Jews in Saudi Arabia justified failing to accommodate Muslims in New York.

"Yes, Islam is just another religion Mr. President.... Just like Nazism is a religion," the commenter wrote. "Do you support a 100 million dollar Nazi shrine near Auschwitz as well?"

But former senior Bush aide, chief speechwriter Michael Gerson, told Politico last night that he supports Obama's decision.

"An enormously complex and emotional issue -- but ultimately the right thing to do," Gerson said. "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."

So far, most Democratic politicians have ducked the issue, unwilling to engage in such a controversial dispute with November's mid-term elections looming.

A CNN/Opinion Research poll earlier this month showed that 68 percent of Americans opposed the Islamic center plans, while only 29 percent favored them.

Writing in the Telegraph of London, political analyst William Lowther said the comments by the president Friday evening are sure to cost Democrats more votes in the midterm elections.

“By charging headlong into the ferocious controversy over the plan to build a mosque near Ground Zero, President Barack Obama may have further damaged Democratic Party prospects in the upcoming mid-term elections,” he wrote.

“For while his return to the soaring rhetoric that won him the White House in the first place will be popular with hard-core liberal supporters, it is unlikely to capture the hearts of middle-America this year.”

Obama said the Al-Qaeda terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks do not represent Islam.

"It is a gross distortion of Islam," the president said late Friday. "In fact, Al-Qaeda has killed more Muslims than people of any other religion -- and that list of victims includes innocent Muslims who were killed on 9/11."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a US advocacy group, said it welcomed Obama's "strong support for Muslim religious rights."

Nihad Awad, a senior CAIR official, said he hoped his remarks "will serve as encouragement to those who are challenging the rising level of Islamophobia in our society," AFP news service reported.

Awad also urged "other national political and religious leaders to speak out in defense of the freedom of religion and equality of all Americans."

One of those reacting Saturday was New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"I applaud President Obama's clarion defense of the freedom of religion," Bloomberg said in a statement reported by the Associated Press.

The proposed site "is as important a test of the separation of church and state as we may see in our lifetime," he said.

Passions over the issue run high across the country.

A Florida church has already said it will hold a "Koran-burning" on September 11 -- which this year coincides with Eid al-Fitr, the end-of-Ramadan holiday, according to AFP.


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