August 18th, 2010
12:29 PM ET
8 years ago

Obama: 'no regrets' on Islamic Center

Columbus, Ohio (CNN) - President Barack Obama said Wednesday he has "no regrets" about his comments last week supporting the rights of Muslims to build an Islamic center and mosque two blocks from the site of the September 11 terror attacks in New York.

"The answer is no regrets," Obama said when asked about bringing up the issue last Friday at a White House dinner commemorating the start of Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

At the dinner, Obama said those wanting to build the Islamic center and mosque have the constitutional right to religious freedom. On Saturday, he clarified that he was talking only about the right to build the center and not the "wisdom" of doing so close to "ground zero," where more than 2,700 people died when planes hijacked by terrorists slammed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

The remarks sparked a national debate on the emotional issue, with many Republicans condemning the president as insensitive to families of victims and out of touch with the views of most Americans.

Many Democrats responded that the right to religious freedom applies to all Americans, though some - including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid - said they oppose having the Islamic center so close to ground zero.

A CNN poll showed 70 percent of respondents opposed having an Islamic center near the site of the September 11 attacks. A separate poll released Wednesday by the Siena Research Institute found 63 percent opposed it, but 64 percent said the center's developers have a constitutional right to build it.

–CNN's Steve Brusk contributed to this story

Filed under: issues • President Obama • Religion
soundoff (136 Responses)
  1. Eric

    "Obama: 'no regrets' on Islamic Center"

    Tell me how you feel about that on the morning of Wednesday, November 3, Mr. Lame Duck.

    August 18, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  2. USA

    Is this really a story? A muslim defending a Muslim mosque in NY City. I wouldn't be surprise if he tried to raise taxes to help pay for this mosque!!!!!

    August 18, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  3. The Truth Will Set All FREE

    Keep up the good work my President.

    August 18, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  4. Jules

    President Obama owes not apology. He did not make any determination in this decision, only siting the law. People! stop and listen to what he is saying. The spin that many put on this is pathetic and unethical.

    First, he has no power to change this situation, and secondly, if he did, imagine the out cry from hypocrits. Get over it people!

    August 18, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  5. ruty

    Finally a president with balls.

    August 18, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  6. Can't We All Just Get Along?

    And you're doing an excellent job doing the right thing, Mr. President. I think too many GOPers got used to Bush doing the wrong thing all the time that they expect it now. Good thing the rest of America voted for you. Can you imagine the miseries we'd be suffering if Palin was anywhere near the Oval Office? If Senator "the fundamentals of our economy are sound" McCain was in the White House?

    Keep up the good work, Mr. President. It'll take you the full 8 years to undo the damage Bush did, but you're doing the right thing.

    August 18, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  7. New Age Independant

    Obama is either stupid, incompetent, or both.

    August 18, 2010 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  8. G4

    President Obama needs to denounce the mosque or he's not getting my vote again. We're still in Iraq and Afghanistan. Healthcare reform was a joke. The deficit spending has been outrageous. Unemployment sucks! Now this? He'll never get my vote again.

    August 18, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  9. Monrob

    No regrets today; tomorrow I regret it.

    I'm for Public Option; I am not for Public Option.

    Close Guantanamo; open Guantanamo.

    Specter over Sestak; I am for Sestak.

    It is healthy to change your mind after examining the issue.... but on the same week?

    August 18, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  10. Dano

    An American President should never have regrets for defending and supporting the U.S. Constitution.

    August 18, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  11. bernice

    Why should he have regrets?? ....Just because some of us are too dumb to understand caertainly isn't his fault

    August 18, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  12. David

    How can upholding/defending the U.S. Constitution (which he was sworn to do) be so controversial to begin with?

    President Obama should have NO REGRETS concerning his comments on the matter!

    Freedom of religion...FOR ALL!

    August 18, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  13. bertina

    He shouldn't have regrets. Anyone who thinks otherwise are spining for political fall out which is meaningless at this point.

    August 18, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  14. Four and The Door

    ...But I was not sent to Washington just to do what was popular. ...
    Now I truly do believe he has been watching the polls. I'll bet Democrats in Congress wish some of the things he has done were more popular. After all, they went along blindly supporting all of it!

    August 18, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  15. obama victim

    we have had bad presidents before......but never some guy so totally out of touch with the country........he does not have a clue

    August 18, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  16. sonny chapman

    Doing what's right cost John the Baptist his head & Jesus Christ paid the price with a crucifixion.

    August 18, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  17. Frisky

    Both things he said are true, why can't people grasp shades of grey anymore? It is completely their right to build on their proprty, AND it is not the wisest thing ever contemplated. Why does all thinking have to be absolutely one extreme or the other? There is nothing more American than religious freedom and private property rights!!

    August 18, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  18. jim

    Obama shows how little respect he has for Americans that feel differently about this issue.This isn't about freedom of religion but about the sesitivity for families that lost loved ones in the attack.Please Mr. Obama get off your high horse and see the real world for a change.

    August 18, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  19. Duck Fallas

    70% of American disapprove of repubicans. Based on their own logic, they're all going to quit now, right? Or are they so insensitive that they won't listen to me?

    August 18, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  20. Jilli

    Good for the President – defending the constitution as he's supposed to. It bears repeating, we are a nation of laws – we are not a nation ruled by mobs and emotion. Funny, those flailing most obviously are those on the right that claim to stand for the constitution, well, apparently only when they choose to. It's not subjective – we are a nation of laws.

    August 18, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  21. sharon

    and he is right !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 18, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  22. Angus McDugan

    What arrogance! Hi thumbs his nose at American's feelings. He is correct concerning the Constitutional rights involved, but he is absolutely void of feelings for the American people. Given his gift of communication, this his foray in to this topic and the tactless manner in which he delivered it, I have to assume that he is providing cover for Democrats in trouble during the mid-terms. They can disagree with him and support a popular opinion. Just in time for the Fall campaign season and a great way to move the topic away from jobs and the economy.

    August 18, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  23. Carmelle

    Why should he have regrets?!

    To summarized what the president said:

    Friday night: I feel and understand the pain of the 9/11 families, but the constitution says that they have the right to build it, so they do.

    Saturday – Since my preference does not matter in the face of the constitution, so I will not comment what that is.

    What did he say wrong? Before you blame Obama for saying anything wrong, take the time to watch the clip from Friday night.

    Do we want to start going down the path that if the majority does approve then forget what the constitution says? DO YOU CHRISTIANS??!!

    August 18, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  24. DIANA

    Do the people who are so against this know who's behind it? She's a nut job, birther, who believes the President wears "gansta" colors in the White House.

    We have an economy that's going down the toilet and people who are out of work, let alone those who are dying on foreign soil fighting an unncessary war because the people wouldn't think for themselves and fell for the scare tactitcs.

    Why are these people falling for the latest shiny object the Republicans are waving in front of them instead of worrying about things that are important? Remember Death Panels, Freedom Fries, duct tape, and who knows what other gimick they threw at us and we fell for it.

    People complain that Obama is taking away our rights when he gives us healthcare, yet not a whimper when the Republicans are trying to change out constitution! What's wrong with you people?! Everyday I'm afraid for and pray for our country.

    August 18, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  25. The Dude

    Now there's a unique idea. A politician doing something that's right, even though it's not very popular. I wish my liberal friends would stop beating up on Obama so much. He's doing a pretty darned good job, especially when compared to the guy that came before him.

    August 18, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
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