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. Surthurfurd

    When will Christians start acting like Jesus tells us to act? Oh yes, when we are demanding that others stop worshiping wealth and using violence to get what they want.

    August 15, 2010 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  2. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I believe it is Gods intention for all religions to come together to know that he is God. Stop the religious hypocrisy in this country.

    August 15, 2010 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  3. GonzoinHouston

    It may be in bad taste, and many may feel offended, but that's no reason to overrule the Constitution. Today the 1st Amendment protects an unpopular minority. Tomorrow it may protect you.

    What I want to know is why hasn't something appropriate been built on Ground Zero by now?

    August 15, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  4. Dan

    All wars/acts of terrorism are based in some form of religion! King is wrong.

    August 15, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  5. Letmeout

    I've got it ! Let's build a memorial to all those lost Japanese souls lost in Pear Harbor. After all not all the Japanese fought us..This country sucks. It stands for nothing..

    August 15, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  6. Joan

    If only people went back into the history of Christianity there would see a war matched that went on for centuries , forced conversions, burning at stakes and what not. .. why not just leave religion alone and deal with the groups involved. Just look at these two guys faces on the picture in the article... so filled with hatred and hard anger....that's not preached in any faith and even any faith may preach violence and hatred , where is our logic and humanity gone?

    August 15, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  7. THE JIN :}

    the tollerance test --

    if america allows this mosque to be built by its attackers religion -on sacred ground –


    islam should show how tollerant it is of other religions and allow the temple of the herews to be rebuilt next to the dome of the rock ..

    that is a true test of tollerance – i bet the islamics will fail :} :} :}

    August 15, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  8. Joe the Lebanese guy

    It's really pathetic and disappointing that people in this country are so blinded by their ignorance. The fact is that Obama and all the people, including myself, that support the mosque being built are right and those against it are wrong. Read the constitution. Learn the constitution. It's a big part of why people love this country and are so patriotic. If you don't like it then leave this country. Plain and simple.

    By the way I am a 21 year old third generation Lebanese and my family is Christian.

    August 15, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  9. Melissa

    What he doesn't seem to understand when he thinks these attacks were "carried out in the name of Islam" is that this does not encompass the whole religion. There are tons of Christians as well who hide their political beliefs and discrimination by saying it's carried out in the name of Christianity. This isn't about religion so much as it is about politics. 9/11 happened because of politics, not religion. It was a political agenda that was shown. Religion itself is very peaceful. People who skew religion to justify their political beliefs are not real religious people. Christianity and Islam are both very peaceful religions. We can not look at one instance and say that THIS is what muslims do. Neither can we say that just because a bunch of priests molested Children, that this is what Christianity is about either.

    The religions are NOT about these things.

    August 15, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  10. Tony

    It's known without a doubt that most Muslims are peace loving people tolerant of other people and their religions. That is why it is clear that the people behind wanting to build this mosque fall into a minority group of Muslims that are not peace loving and tolerant. If these particular Muslims were acting in the spirit of peace, love and tolerance they would build this Mosque further away from ground zero where the majority of America would not take offense to it. Therefore, the only reason the people building this mosque insist on their legal right to do so is because they are acting in Anger, Hate and Intolerance. They know it serves as shrine to the Radical Muslim Terrorist who brought down the twin towers and at heart because they see these people as heroes and the shrine to their gods soldiers must be built.

    August 15, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  11. stannardg

    Hi ho hiho off to work we go.. seems stressful times calls on us to grow. .. great news.. Ok so now lets blame the KKK for all the wrongs in done in the name of Christ. Relax an unfold america

    August 15, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  12. Rick4USA

    You know I never heard of young boys getting molested at a muslem church and you don't hear about little girls being raped by muslem preachers. I do hear these atrocities from the Christian church. And the Christians will tell you that your going to hell unless you only believe in their god. We can also go back to the Salem witch trials and the Crusades and it makes what the muslems do seem like childs play. In the end you will all see that there is one God and weather you choose to call him mohamed or Jesus you will reap what you have sewn with your fellow human being.

    August 15, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  13. THE JIN :}

    yep thats a trade in tollerance –

    let the muslims build there mosque -right on ground zero

    but then demand

    that they show how tollerant of tother trreligions they are by allowing the hebrew temple to be built on the temple mount by the dome of the rock :}:}:} ........

    August 15, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  14. Terry Hewitt

    I thought that the president was very clear with his original remarks, and with his follow up comments, which were entirely consistent with each other. Nowhere did he "support" the building of a mosque near ground zero – he supported the right to build it.

    Building a mosque close to ground zero may be unwise, but there seems to be a sentiment that it should also be unlawful. The president was simply making it clear that making it unlawful would would be fundamentally against your constitution.

    August 15, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  15. marcm057

    Enjoy your Victory mosque!! and the hundreds more being built all over the USA.

    August 15, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  16. Michael

    What Union contractor or workers are going to build it?

    August 15, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  17. xinlaw

    How about they reopen the investigation on 911 so that all Americans can see that it was executed with the assistance of the CIA all so they could get soldiers in Afghanistan to try to reclaim their hold on the drug trade there. Alqeada had declared war on the CIA becuase they got tired of giving the CIA money after they were created to run the CIA drug business there. The CIA was unable to assasinate Alqeada so they needed us army to help. This is why the trade center was targeted its the CIA HQ. Now note Alqeada did attack us, but the CIA assisted them ot make sure the outcome was catastrophic, anything less would not lead to war.

    August 15, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  18. johnrj08

    King's logic is flawed and designed to appeal to his constituent's fear and paranoia. It's a cynical and destructive way to get votes. Many crimes are carried out "in the name" of one thing or another, but that doesn't make the connection legitimate. In fact, Al Qaeda membership represents less than 1% of the total number of Muslims on the planet. Furthermore, by allowing the Islamic center to be built, it demonstrates that Islam is not the enemy of the United States, therefore young Muslims will have one less reason to join Al Qaeda and other anti-west sects. Aside from being consistent with our own constitution, it is intelligent strategy to embrace moderate Muslims whenever we can. There is no rational reason for not the allowing the construction of this center.

    August 15, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  19. Chaos

    Kings logic = any violence done in the name of a relgion should mean the religion is to blame. I guess he hates Christians a real lot.

    August 15, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  20. Eugene Segar

    Why has no one mentioned that if the Mosque is built the city will no longer get any property tax from that land? And just how much tax money per year is being given up. So in effect, the city of New York will be subsidizing this Mosque with the loss of public money.

    August 15, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  21. Steve in North Carolina

    Reply to ad. And what do you call the Inman in charge of this project? As far as I'm concerned he should be sitting in Gitmo, not erecting a mosque by Ground Zero.

    And by the way the Aryan Nations do have a church, it's called the Church of Jesus Christ Christian. The Aryan Nations sprang from this church. They seem to have the same views as Muslims concerning people of the Jewish faith. So where is the hate really?

    August 15, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  22. Matt

    Yes, building this mosque so close to ground zero IS in bad taste. BUT...the New York city authorities have all signed off on this, and more importantly, people get to choose where they can worship in this country (unless it is an imminent public hazard...for example you cannot hold a religious service in th middle of an interstate highway). To say differently means you are for the sort of restrictions against Christian and Jewish worship that are common in Arab countries. I thought we were better than those countries, right wingers?

    And to those who say this mosque might well be an "imminent public hazard" as it will harbor could be right. But I agree with John: Let 'em have their mosque but keep it in under constant, and complete, surveillance. (And not just by the CIA and FBI...I would hope the far-right would do more than complain on the internet about the mosque and, organize massive pickets in front of it. I'm talking 24/7/365 protesting. Or are you all too fat and rich to do that sort of thing?)

    August 15, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  23. Faith

    Sen. Santorum made the best argument for sensitivity: What if a church that preached "racial separation and that MLK's death was his fault" wanted to build a church at the site MLK was murdered? Would it be legal and constitutional? Yes. Would it be insensitive, painful and in bad taste? Yes. And that is exactly what building a mosque at Ground Zero feels like. It is grossly insensitive, will bring pain to so many and it is just plain wrong. I am astounded that our president and other leaders can be so insensitive.

    August 15, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  24. Sal

    The Constitution is outdated and outmoded in todays world and each amendment should be revised to apply to todays world, not something that was written two hundred years ago that may have applied to the world at that time. Each amendment should be looked at and changed if necessary. Types of guns then, and types of guns today, immigration laws then and how it would apply to today. It's badly outdated and should be changed.

    August 15, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  25. Desmond

    Reasonably, building a mosque near ground zero can send avery positve message that Islam also mourns 9-11. We should go ahead and build worship centres of other faiths too.

    But why be reasonable when we can be irrationally driven by hatred fed by our prejudices and capitalize on fear and bigotry!

    Obama is very reasonable but, thanks to the irrationality of so many US citizens, may have made a bad political move. Only shows his integrity. But who cares about that? Palin, etc. cater to bigots much more!

    August 15, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
1 2 3 4 5