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. New Jersey


    There are enough mosques and synagogues in NYC... enough!
    We do NOT need another Islamic Center & Mosque!

    Would they allow us to build churches in Saudi Arabia or other strict muslim countries? NO WAY, you'll get killed by even talking about other religion! ENOUGH BEING BRAIN WASHED!

    August 15, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  2. sa

    what's abberant is when individuals are against islam out if ignorants islams main message is to abrogate the law of moses and jesus the

    August 15, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  3. Sam I Am

    For someone to seriously assume that the people who flew planes into the towers were doing in on behalf of ALL of Islam is just plain insanity. There is not a religion in the world that does not have its extremists, and Islam is no exception. We Christians have done our share of pointless killing as well. This predisposition that this country is beginning to have of blaming "those people" for all our woes is getting dangerously close to sounding like misbegotten beliefs of past cultures of hate. We must step very, very carefully here.

    All that being said, I think it is extremely insensitive for the developers and mosque leadership to want a mosque near the site of the disaster. Certainly there are other sites that would work just as well, and not create such a fervor. I would guess that, if in fact this mosque is ever actually built, it will be the target of vandalism, fires, and hate crimes. It's a bad thing all around.

    August 15, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  4. DCL

    This whole mess is highlighting the poor thinking skills of Americans. We're still blaming 9/11 on a religion instead of extremists. The terrorists have won this oart of the battle... and it's really sad.

    August 15, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  5. Pianki

    Ye, like it was the Christain Church that sanctioned black Africns to be enslaved. Should Blacks boycott Christainity and its tenets?

    August 15, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  6. Scott

    John: IIRC Mecca isn't in America.

    Do you protect the Constitution or not?

    August 15, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  7. Aj

    This mosque is a slap in the face to all who have died Fighting terroists. To even bring this up is an insult to the USA. We are still fighting and they want to build on ground ZERO. WHAT ARE YOU PEOPLE THINKING ????????????

    August 15, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  8. Artemisios

    And the Salem Witch tortures and murders were carried out in the name of Christianity. So shall we ban all churches from Salem?

    August 15, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  9. sa

    whats abberant here is ignorants has lead these people to fight the mosk in the trianglur trade from africa to spain to

    August 15, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  10. Media

    I hardly ever read comments on these one side forums, but I could help notice the fine print when you submit the comment which is as follow:

    Comments are moderated by CNN, in accordance with the CNN Comment Policy, and may not appear on this blog until they have been reviewed and deemed appropriate for posting. Also, due to the volume of comments we receive, not all comments will be posted.

    There is no question that CNN is Anti-Islam media outlet, which is why it is obvious that hardly any pro Islamic comment is seen.
    I have a question: Was Adolf Hitler Muslim? Supposedly he killed lots of Jews..

    August 15, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  11. American

    For goodness sack, let these people build their mosque!

    The overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world are good people who would never commit an act of terrorism. It's just the one small segment of the religion, like in any religion, are extremists and they are getting all the attention. Our country was founded on the principle of religious freedom, and that includes Islam. If we deny these people the right to build their mosque but would Ok it if someone wanted to build a church or other place of worship, then in essence we are almost as bad as the terrorists.

    I am really shocked that the vast majority of 9/11 families are opposed to it, according to this article. The people who are building the Mosque, had nothing to do with the people who attacked the WTC. Equating the two would be like saying that all Christians are part of the Klu Klux Klan so they shouldn't be allowed to build a church. It's just silly and un-American.

    August 15, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  12. ol cranky

    That's it, get rid of every single Christian church in this country. After all, if we must hold all Muslims and the religion of Islam accountable for anything done in the name of Allah or Islam and limit their religious freedoms, we must hold every Christian and every Christian denomination accountable for every heinous act and war carried out in the name of Jesus and/or Christianity.

    August 15, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  13. Sue Bye

    The Oklahoma City bombing was done by Christians in the name of Christianity. Would the people objecting to the Mosque in NYC also object to a church being built on the OKC site?

    August 15, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  14. Ron Mosher

    Anyone and I mean ANYONE who opposes this is guilty of ignorance and racism. You can sugar coat it all you want but that is what it is. To so totally ignore our history is disgusting. Our culture is based on FREEDOM and SELF DETERMINATION. Not hatred and intolerance but so many in America are.

    August 15, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  15. creating

    Much is done in the name of Christianity and Islam that is inconsitent with those faiths.

    While you can excerpt from the Bible or the Koran to justify almost any perspective, the common message of Christ and Mohammad was one of tolerance, inclusion and compassion. At the end of the day, the fundamental context at the heart of Christ’s teachings can be summed in the phrase “Love One Another” just as the underlying message in Mohammad’s teachings exhorted people to work together from a context of Community – and Mohammad explicitly included people of the Christian and Jewish faiths in his Community of Islam. If your choices and actions don’t say “Love One Another”, you might call yourself a Christian, but you aren’t BEING a Christian any more than Muslims who’s actions fail to create community are truly being a follower of Mohammad. In their narrow, intolerant sense of morality, socially conservative Christians have much in common with the Taliban.

    August 15, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  16. AndyF

    F'in Republicans. Won't vote for helping responders b/c they are blocked from adding irrelavent ammendments, now they say it's justifiable to suppress a religion b/c they killed in the name of God. Well if that's why a religion should be suppressed, then it would be just as justifiable to close every fricken Christian church and Jewish Synagogue in the country given how many Christians and Jews have murdered in the name of the same God Islam worships, just under a different alias.

    August 15, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  17. markiejoe

    "King said 'the attack was carried out in the name of Islam,'"

    Seriously? That's his argument for opposing the mosque?

    The Crusades were carried out in the name of Christianity. The Inquisition was carried out in the name of the Catholic Church. The Old Testament is nothing but violence and killing carried out in the name of God. And on and on and on and on.

    So by King's logic, there should be no religious places of worship built anywhere.

    Come to think of it, I'm all for that.

    August 15, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  18. Chris

    Well Li, unfortunately for you poorly thought out comments – you conveniently overlooked the modern murderes of abortion doctors. And it doesn't matter the time frame, the point is that simply because one person or a group of people does something in the name of a religion that should not be used as basis to judge the entire religion.

    Here's a few facts for you: muslims also follow the ten commandments. During the middle ages, while Europeans were mostly ignorant pig farmers, the muslims built the greatest civilization of their time in Persia and were the pinnacle of sciences and the arts. The Bible also says its ok to kills non-believers in the name of God – check out Deut 20:10-18. As far what you said about one of the most respected religous figures in the world – I'm not going to even deign that with a reply.

    August 15, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  19. Ahmed

    We are killing there people (Muslims) everyday. We are invading their (Muslim) countries and killing their (Muslims) women, children – it is OK since they are not our people.

    Al-Qaida killed 3,000 people and they are not all American. We can not blame Islam for this – it will be wrong. Who killed more people (Hitler, Mussolini, and Bush) and we should not blame Christianity for this?

    We should not oppose Mosque near World Trade Center. We can not blame entire Muslim American for some of Muslims? – Islam does not support killing innocent people.

    Live and let live.

    August 15, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |

    If our "Christian Religion" was so perfect, then why did we have a "Protestant" rebellion in practically all the countries of the world? And now, it is the same "Christian Believers" that wish to deny another religion the right to practice their beliefs. Extortion within the "Catholic Church" and the taking of hundreds of thousands of innocent peoples lives simply because they did not agree with the policies of the Church. When is America going to wake up and acknowledge that we are made up of many different cultures and religions!

    August 15, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  21. Joe M

    This is about sentiments, if the promoters of this project aim at fostering inter religious tolerance, they are not acheiving much.

    August 15, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  22. David

    John, you think Muslims are evil. That's the crux of your opposition. You just won't say it. Bigot.

    August 15, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  23. American

    Also, it's not like they are building a mosque ON Ground Zero. It is two blocks away. This shouldn't even be an issue.

    August 15, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  24. Another viewpoint

    I seem to remember a section of President Obama's "Oath of Office" that referred to, and I'm paraphasing here, "...uphold the Constitution of the United States of America think Chief Justice Roberts go that part right at least. Doesn't that same Constitution give religious freedom to ALL Americans..or has the GOP comandeered that section as well? What the President was doing was enforcing the Constitution–just what he PROMISED UNDER OATH to do. There is a huge difference between legal right and moral wishes. Please don't confuse the two!

    August 15, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  25. Chantel

    This has nothing to do with freedom to practice one's religion, it has everything to do with sensitivity to the families and the memory of the victims. The more the Muslim community shows it's insensitivity the more it will hurt their image. It's their Public Relations nightmare, let them deal with it. If we don't like the end result, the cost of the damage control they'll have to do will far outstrip the cost of building a mosque on this controversial site.

    August 15, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
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