Debra Burlingame knows full well the horrible tragedy of the 9/11 terrorist attacks — her brother Charles was the pilot of the hijacked plane that crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11.
Now she’s a leader in the fight to stop the construction of a mosque two blocks from ground zero in Manhattan.
Burlingame tells Newsmax that 9/11 families are feeling “raw anguish” over the mosque plans, and accuses President Obama of “grandstanding” with his comments about the mosque controversy.
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Burlingame is co-founder, along with Liz Cheney and Bill Kristol, of the organization Keep America Safe, which is behind a new video, “We Remember,” that chronicles the feelings of the families of 9/11 victims. It begins with this quote: “This mosque. It’s wrong. It’s so wrong.”
She is also a director of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum Foundation at the World Trade Center.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Burlingame explains why so many Americans are opposed to the mosque.
“As people hear about this, the more they hear about this imam and his other organizers, they really on a visceral level object to it,” she says.
“They understand that what happened on 9/11 in Lower Manhattan affected them, affected the country, and I think they intuitively understand that having a mosque there, a 15-story towering structure overlooking that site, will send a very bad message to the world. It will allow our enemies to use it essentially to recruit. It will be seen as a sign of triumph. And they don’t want it.
“What I’m hearing from other 9/11 families is just this raw anguish over what is happening. They view [the site] as a graveyard. In fact, the Memorial Museum will house some 15,000 unidentified remains. A thousand family members never got anything to bury, so for them this is a sacred place, consecrated by the flesh and blood of their loved ones, and it’s taking them back to a very bad day that for them has never really ended.
“Some of them have called me and told me they feel themselves emotionally disintegrating again. It’s very, very painful for them.”
Burlingame says she was distressed by President Obama’s statement that Muslims have the right to build the mosque near ground zero.
“I think it was really and truly an unfortunate thing for him to say because he was suggesting to the entire world, and he was speaking to the Muslim world in particular, that Americans are bigots, which really is a slander on his own countrymen.
“But then he turned around the next day and he said I’m not suggesting that building the mosque is a wise decision, which to me completely canceled out what he said the day before and basically exposed that reasonable people who have nothing against Muslims can disagree about it, and that putting it there can be a painful thing that perhaps shouldn’t happen.
“I think what he did was the worst kind of demagoguery and grandstanding, and in a way it most certainly hurt our country.”
Asked how she believes the mosque controversy will be resolved and how the mosque can be stopped, Burlingame says: “I think the more we focus a laser on the money, the $100 million they are going to need, and more to actually run it — I think that’s the way. Because they’re not going to be able to hide this money and who they get it from.
“I think Americans will rise up and be outraged if we find out that [the money comes from] Saudi Arabia, which has financed the Wahhabi extremist mosques that are being built in America and all over the world. I think that could be the way to end it.
“This imam needs political cover and it’s not for nothing that they went to the politicians first, before they went to the people or the 9/11 families and said please support us. They went to the politicians. There’s a reason for that. They can’t do this without political cover.”
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