August 15th, 2010
09:49 AM ET
8 years ago

New York lawmakers on different sides of 9/11 Islamic center

(CNN) - Two days after President Obama declared his support for a controversial proposal to build an Islamic center and mosque near the site of Ground Zero in Manhattan, two New York lawmakers sounded off on the merits of the project.

Republican Rep. Peter King represents a portion of western Long Island less than 20 miles from New York City; Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler represents part of Brooklyn and a slice of Manhattan that includes ground zero. In an interview Sunday on CNN's State of the Union, the congressmen differed on how they characterized the sensitivity of building a mosque near such hallowed ground.

"The fallacy is that al Qaeda attacked us. Islam did not attack us," Nadler told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.

"It is only insensitive if you regard Islam as the culprit as opposed to Al Qaeda as the culprit," he added. "[…]Objecting to the mosque would be as objectionable if you wouldn't object to a church or synagogue in the same place because that's blaming all Islam and you can't blame an entire religion."

But King said "the attack was carried out in the name of Islam," and the fact that many families of 9/11 victims are opposed to the proposal should be enough of a reason to relocate it farther away from where the twin towers of the World Trade Center came down.

"The overwhelming majority of the 9/11 families are opposed to it, and they are good people, they are not bigoted, they are not biased ... These people-the wounds are just being torn apart for them now and they are heartbroken over this," King said. "And that is what I think the imam and the Muslim leadership should take this into account."

On Friday, Obama defended the planned community center, saying, "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, in accordance with local laws and ordinances," the president added, speaking at a White House dinner marking the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Obama on Saturday told CNN Chief White House Correspondent Ed Henry that that in defending the right of Muslims to build a community center and mosque near ground zero in a speech on Friday night, he was "not commenting on the wisdom" of the project. Instead, Obama said he was trying to uphold the broader principle that the government should treat "everyone equal, regardless" of religion.

His comments were seen as step back from the support he appeared to give the controversial project during a White House dinner on Friday, though a spokesman for the administration quickly moved to clarify the president's remarks.

Nadler praised Obama's original remarks on Friday.

"The United States was founded on the principle of religious liberty and tolerance, and it is equally important 234 years later that we uphold this principle," Nadler said in a statement released Friday after Obama's remarks.

King criticized Obama for nuance and said he wished the president had been clearer.

"All I can think is perhaps there was political pressure from people in his own party who urged him to walk back away from that on Saturday," King said.

"If the president was going to get into this, he should've been much more clear, much more precise and you can't be changing your position from day-to-day on an issue that does go to our constitution and it also goes to extreme sensitivities."

–CNN Chief White House Correspondent Ed Henry contributed to this report

Filed under: Jerrold Nadler • New York • Peter King • Religion • State of the Union
soundoff (104 Responses)
  1. Chris

    King said "the attacks were carried out in the name of Islam." In the name of Christ abortion doctors have been murdered, the Inquistion has tortured and burnt at the stake countless innocents, and natvie people have had their cultures obliterated. Its wrong to judge Christianity on these acts, and its wrong to judge Islam on the acts of extremists.

    August 15, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  2. The Progressive and Media rape of America ends the first week of November 2010

    Obama and Nadler tie themselves in knots to justify their support for the islamists.

    Mr. Nadler should understand one thing, and understand it well, when the Islamist begin butchering Jews en masse he should not expect any help from middle America. He and Obama have worked hard to empower the Islamist both in America and around the world. We will not come to Mr. Nadler defense since he is the one betraying himself and other Jews.

    August 15, 2010 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  3. Boston Guy

    The Right Wingers again spewing their hate towards anyone who don't believe just like them. It's 3 blocks aways from the WTC site so who cares. Get real people and stop hating everyone who don't back your beliefs.

    August 15, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  4. Larry

    Any resistance to the building of this Islamic Center, can only be based on ignorance and racism

    Our own George W. Bush and the administration, was well aware of, and part of those that carried out the attacks on the towers, killing over 3000 of our own people

    They needed a good excuse to attack Iraq.

    To the likes of Bush and Cheney, the lives of 3000 of our people are of less value than their own selfish agendas

    Wake Up America, your greatest fears sleep in the beds, closest to your own

    August 15, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  5. JJ

    Discrimination against a group of people, pure and simple.

    Society has not evolved that much from the days of segregation.

    911 has opened many closets, and a lot of evil gets disguised as "sensitivity".

    August 15, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  6. Peter in VA

    As a Christian, I am amazed that there is so much uproar and so much amnesia regarding this issue. Everyone wants the legacy of our forefathers to match their beliefs. If it were suggested that the 2nd amendment be modified to outlaw guns many would go crazy....but it's OK to change the 14th amendment to ban some from becoming citizens.

    Now many, mostly conservatives, want to forget the parts about "Being Crated Equal" and "Freedom of Religion". And Faux News it doing their usual best to propagate hate.

    Republican Rep. Peter King says that since the attack on the WTC (I was there) was carried in the name of Islam, they are fair game...

    By the same logic, since Hitler carried the murder of Jews in the name of Christianity....we should ban all Christian churches.

    And, by the same logic, no Christian churches should be allowed close to the Kansas City building where so many died....

    It's about time that people realize that hating ALL Muslims does not make us any better that those Muslims who hate us....

    Wake up America, we need to work together to get us out of the major problems we have, especially the economy. You (and most GOP politicians) can choose whether to want to be part of the problem or part of the solution....can't have it both ways.

    August 15, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  7. uscentral

    It's at times like this when you can gauge the backbone of your reps. King took the easy way out and pandered to his consitutents base fear instead of upholding the constitution which he took an oath to do.
    Nuance? Really?

    August 15, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  8. David in Reality

    Have we forgotten that dozens of innocent American Muslims perished on 9/11?

    Have we forgotten that many of our beloved forst-responders where of the Islamic faith?

    How about the fact that 99% of ALL Muslim nations stood in solidarity with us against these attacks?


    It appears we only have religious tolerance when it is our own religions is question...

    I'm sure Jesus would be proud?

    August 15, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  9. Steve in North Carolina

    Ok then why not let the Aryan Nations build a church at the site where Martin Luther King was killed or erect a Shinto shrine for Emperor Hirohito at Pearl Harbor? This whole situation is nuts!

    On top of the insenitivity being displayed by the Muslims in this situation, take at Inman Farouk Abdul Rauf who is in charge of the project . He has been linked to terrorist groups outside the US and he refuses to label Hamas as a terrorist organization. He has also blamed America as responsible in part for the 9/11 attack, as well as for the existence of Osama bin Ladin.

    This guy is poking us in the eye and Obama is standing up for him. What a farce!

    August 15, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  10. John Dockum

    The US Constitution supports it, and the only rebuttal seems to be fear of Islam. I question the opening on the 10th anniversary of the attack, but recognize that it is far more important to uphold the US Constitution and not cave in to the emotions of victim's families.

    August 15, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  11. Clwyd

    The Muslim Center is on land bought by them and not on Holy Ground. I didn't think and don't think there is such a thing in the first place. Interesting how the right talks about religious freedom and the wants to ignore it here! disgusting and hypocritical as well as being against the Constitution!

    August 15, 2010 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  12. Will S

    Obama didn't "declare his support". He merely asserted that they have a right to build it; whether they should is an entirely different matter.

    August 15, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  13. april

    Dear Larry, you say resistance to the project can only be based on ignorance and racism? Why can't it be based on something like, oh, say, crippling grief, agonizing emotional trauma, righteous indignation, or just plain ol' American patriotism? You are the one who is ignorant.

    August 15, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  14. frogman

    Any resistance to the building of this Islamic center can only be based on an awareness of the threat posed by Islam to Western values and life styles as demonstrated by the behavior of Muslim immigrants in their host nations all accross Europe.

    August 15, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  15. Brenda T

    If I say the mosque is IN POOR is that bigoted or a racist statement? How is that spewing hate?? Its an opinion...nothing WHY do you liberals believe everyone who doesn't agree with you is somehow a backwoods racist/bigot/small minded person. For a 'PARTY OF TOLERANCE' You democrats are anything but...

    August 15, 2010 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  16. John

    Why not just put a Japaneese memorial in Pearl Harbor too?
    History shows, those who win the wars get to write the history books...

    August 15, 2010 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  17. Muslim American

    i am Muslim and i do support the mosque 3 blocks a way from ground zero just as i dont have any problem with churches all over Iraq after millions dies because of Oil.

    think positive, you might find a better day forward.

    August 15, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  18. AmericanPatriot49

    The Great Mosque of Cordoba placed its importance amongst the Islamic community of Al-Andalus for three centuries. In Cordoba, the capital of Al-Andalus, the Great Mosque was seen as the heart and central focus of the capital

    Any questions?

    August 15, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  19. job

    Christianity is about love and peace. Jesus didn't preach war but brought peace even by His own death. Christianity expanded from Jerusalem to the ends of the world by preaching love and peace. True Christians were persecuted and suffered as Jesus did. Ofcourse there are many who did wrong in the name of Chrisitianity. Islam on the other had is about war and submission from the biggining. North Africa (Egypt, Lybia, Algeria ..) were forced to become muslims by the sword ... So I don't see the comparison between the two beliefs

    August 15, 2010 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  20. lloyd roberts

    I used to live in Peter King's district. Any nine term congressman like him is nothing more than a money launderer. He takes money that was seized by Washington and distributes it to people and businesses that supported him financially. Sort of the same as the Taliban and the opium trade. So who is he to comment. This money launderer had the same ugly comments when Michael Jackson died. The truth is Obama is right, the freedom to practice or not practice religion is guaranteed by the constitution. But I do question the wisdom and sensitivity of building it down there.

    August 15, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  21. Scott

    Why do the Republicans hate the Constitution so much?
    Is it really just a piece of paper to you?

    August 15, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  22. Chris

    All these people who say that its just about the Mosque's location near ground zero and that it has nothing to do with bigotry is a load of horse hockey! Just read the virulent, hate filled rants against muslims made in some of these comments. Its obvious that these people have nothing but loathing and contempt for all muslims everywhere. All over the country, Mosques are being targeted, none of which are even close to ground zero. To insist that bigotry isn't playing a big role in the protest of NYC mosque is to be burying your head in the sand.

    August 15, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  23. Miami Guy

    This story is still going on.. These politicians are making a big mistake.... Right or wrong to build it, who knows... This place will become a national place of protest.. Violence will become the answer ... bad move by Obamba to support this and bring the national debate to him....

    August 15, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  24. Li

    Well Chris, unfortunately for your poorly thought of comment, this is 2010 now here in the U.S. and the rest of the CIVILIZED world. There are no Christian crusades, and Christianity follows the 10 Commandments. They are not true Christians if they kill. You can't say the same for Islam, which if you knew anything about, you'd know that it was started from a sadistic, mass-murdering, pedophile & thief that says it's okay to kill infidels in the name of Allah.

    P.S. It's spelled "inquisition" and "native"

    "King said "the attacks were carried out in the name of Islam." In the name of Christ abortion doctors have been murdered, the Inquistion has tortured and burnt at the stake countless innocents, and natvie people have had their cultures obliterated. Its wrong to judge Christianity on these acts, and its wrong to judge Islam on the acts of extremists."

    August 15, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  25. Steve in North Carolina

    To April and Brenda T:

    Right on!

    August 15, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
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