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. Marcus

    He stands by his words and the Constitution, what else do you expect from the POTUS?

    August 18, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  2. sara

    Now do you believe in the Constitution or NOT?

    August 18, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  3. Peggy - TX

    When Faux News and talk show radio host say the President supports building the center and mosque two blocks from the site of the September 11 terror attacks in New York, they are LIEING outright.

    Our President does not support it. In fact he questions the wisdom of it!!. Our President does not see it as a Federal issue and he does not have the power to stop the mosque from being built as it is a local zoning issue and clearly constitutional.

    So when talk show radio host, claim that this is all part of the Presidents agenda to force Muslim law on all of us ... I have to wonder just how nutty the radical right can get and still keep an audience tuning in .. It is a bit scary to understand just how dumb, the talk show audience must be and how easily they are led by their prejudices to support a republican Agenda that is not in their best interest.

    This realization, just makes me want to put more effort into supporting Dems, because we must NEVER let the radical right pick our Next President or we would end up with another BUSH or worse.

    August 18, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  4. Ed

    His job is to uphold the constitution and protect us from threats, foreign and domestic.

    August 18, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  5. Paul from Phoenix

    If he has no regrets, why were his aides immediately saying that he did not mean what he initially said?

    This guy is clueless.

    August 18, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  6. sifto77

    When has Obama ever agreed with the will of "we the people"? In his arrogance and insensitivity, he thinks that "he knows best and is smarter than the rest of us"...

    August 18, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  7. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Think about this; Many Americans don't want the blame to be placed upon them for slavery because they weren't part of that and ask when will the blame stop but yet we want to place blame upon all Muslims for 911.

    August 18, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  8. Dave

    He will regret it when Americans wake the hell up and vote these idiots out of office.

    Reid is GONE.

    Pelosi will be out of a job

    Obama will be a lame duck

    3 more months!!!!!!!!

    Vote EVERY incumbant out of office.

    Vote in only TRUE fiscal conservatives or new people. I do not care what party they belong to. We need to show them that WE are in charge. End the career politicians in both parties.


    August 18, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  9. Larry

    I agree with the President that the Muslims, under the Constitution, have the right to put their center anywhere they want.

    But if they would show some concern for the people who were most affected by the 9/11 attacks and move the center elsewhere, everyone wins.

    August 18, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  10. Liz the First

    President Obama doesn't need to regret standing up for the first amendment of the US constitution. the people who need to have regrets are the rabid bigots stoking the flames of a holy war in an attempt to grab power. the 'right's' behavior on this issue is abominable. the term 'ground zero mosque' is about as factual as 'death panels.' no coincidence they come from the same 'minds.' it's time the American people realize the rethugs are playing them like cheap violins so they can finish the job of ruining the middle class and this country. anyone who votes for one of these mindless bigots is a fool!

    August 18, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  11. lolo

    You know the republicans have scared the seniors and illiterate people so bad that they do not know what to believe. It is just hypocrisy how they always claim that the constitution is the law when it suits the republican agenda, but when it is not going the way they would like for it to go they want to change it. Just step on everybodys' rights. They keep beating the dead horse abortion rights. Everytime you turn around the republicans and tea partiers included wants everyone to live by their rules. I really feel sadness for the people who truly believe what they are saying is the gospel truth. These people really need to step back and take a look in the mirror. This talk about Obama not being a good president is bogus. This president has really been working hard to keep America from drowning and these so called patriots do not even appreciate it. He should have just let the whole country sink, but then the republicans would complain about that too. The real issue is that the tea partiers and republicans do not want to see anyone of a different color in the white house, but the people have spoken. Remember America originally belong to the Native American Indians. The white man ran them off of their land and took over and ruined it. People really need to study up on their history. All of us are foreigners when it comes to America except the Indians. If you truly care about America get a grip and come up with real solutions. Quit bashing people their every move. Heavens knows that when another person of color is chosen for president, will we go through this all over again? I surely hope not. I admire our President Obama because he has the guts and patience to deal with the buffoons in this world who are against him no matter what. If he really became angry he would then be called an angry black man.He will rise to glory and all of you will be asking for forgiveness. The other issue is that the republicans really do not have a clue about the people of The United States. We are a diverse country and they need to wake up from their dream world and accept it. America will move forward with or without them, make no mistake.

    August 18, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  12. water bearer

    "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"

    Yeah because we all know how sensitive Republicans are to . . . .well, I guess they aren't sensitive at all unless you happen to be a millionaire or a big corporation worth billions. What a joke! How can it be more clear that the GOP is in this "debate" purely to fan the flames of intolerance because they think it will gain them a few more votes?? The President should have no regrets about what he said because what he said was entirely correct and sincere!

    August 18, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  13. Vic of New York

    I was molested by a Catholic Priest when I was 10.

    So lets close all the Catholic Churches that are within 4 blocks of an elementary school and prohibit new Catholic Churches from being built anywhere near an elementary school.

    You see, I find it offensive that Priests are allowed to fraternize with children using Catholic Churches as their base of operation.

    Let's take care of THAT first, then we can talk about an Islamic COMMUNITY CENTER near WTC.

    August 18, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  14. Ridiculous

    Isn't it sad how common sense statements can be analyze and re-analyzed and over analyzed until it's so twisted and distorted that the whole meaning is misconstrued and misunderstood. Every time I watch these panels on the news channels talk about these issues, that's what happens and unfortunately the true meaning of the statement is gone. And it seems that nothing good is brought out of anything said or done–it's always the downside of every issue. I'm so sick of it all. It's hard for people in this country to have an optimistic view of their country when every time one of our representatives/senators, etc. make a crazy comment–that's what we see. Nothing that's positive.

    August 18, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  15. Steve in Denver

    Would somebody please explain to me why 70% of us who oppose the center have taken such leave of our senses? This is America. We were founded by people fleeing state established religion in Europe, and our founders specifically wrote the constitution to protect all religions. Our founding fathers wrote property rights into the constitution.

    If you own a piece of property, no one can tell you what to do with that property without a compelling reason, and certainly NOT because of what religion you practice. I'd certainly like to tell the owners of the property in front of my house that they can't build anything there as it would spoil my view, but that is not my right.

    How is it that you conservative nut jobs, and the low information voters, feel perfectly OK in saying that the owners of this property, two blocks from, and invisble to, ground zero, think you can tell these people what to do with their property? Especially that they can't build a community center because of the religion they practice.

    Socialism, my a–. This country, led by Gingrich, Limbaugh, and the like, is on a steady march to a "christian" theocracy. Only we won't practice the teachings of Christ (like taking care of those with the least among us, not starting BS wars, love our neighbor). These scum want to build a country based on their freedom to tell you what you can and can not do, like be a Muslim, make a marriage-like union with a same sex partner, or pray to Allah. Then they yak about Obama taking away liberties?

    August 18, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  16. A Kickin' Donkey

    Of course he should have no regrets. What he said is in PERFECT ALIGNMENT with the US Constitution.

    I despise these so-called "conservatives" that only want to "defend the constitution" when it serves their own selfish interests. They have ZERO honor. They are the oppositite of patriotic.

    Even into the 30s, 40s & 50's ... the majority of the "public" in Mississippi would participate or, or at a miminum watch, the lyching of an innocent man. Just because this "majority" was in favor of it, didn't make it morally or legally "RIGHT".

    The same is true for any close minded people that disagree with what the President said. I think there are less inflamatory placed to place this mosque too ... but I defend the right of an organization to us privately owned property ... in American where rights are guaranteed ... to do whatever they want.

    August 18, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  17. jake

    Right wing republicans need to listen when other's speak and they need to hear what is being said. The President made it very clear about the right not the wisdom. Republican's would like to remove the rights of other's if they don't conform to their ways. It's time the right winger's stopped hiding in the constitution and maybe read it...oh wait , what is actually written and what they think is written will not be the can count on that for it takes an educated open mind to understand.

    August 18, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  18. Dave, CA

    What can you expect from the President who is coming from Muslim heritage. Americans and the media is blind about it.

    August 18, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  19. Frank

    Of course he doesn't have any regrets; he meant fully what he said! That is his belief and he doesn't give a damn about what the majority of Americans believe or desire and he has shown it time and time again! This guy should not be in the White House!!

    August 18, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  20. Limbaugh is a liberal

    Have you ever seen so many republicans in favor of government takeover of PRIVATE PROPERTY?

    August 18, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  21. Katie B in NC

    This prayer room is as much as mosque as the chapel in a hospital is a church. Why should I or anyone else beyond Lower Manhattan care about it? Because some lunatic right-wing nut says I should? No thanks, I'm not buying it. They're just trying to turn us against each other and I refuse to play along.

    August 18, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  22. aunt Bea and Opie

    WE hope they build one next to Limbaughs secret radio station.I hope they find his hideout,hahaha

    August 18, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  23. GOP Scorched Earth Politics

    Enough already of this ridiculous topic. Obama isn't taking sides. He taught Constitutional Law as a professor and is simply explaining that they have the right to build it. However at the same token, Obama isn't endorsing any particular viewpoint. Obama is explaining the legal context. You right-wing bigots need to put a muzzle on it and listen to the man. Maybe you'd learn about what the Constitution actually is.

    August 18, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  24. The Other Micheal in Houston

    Standing ovation to you Mr. President for actually standing behind the constitution.

    August 18, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  25. Ben

    Once again, Obama has shown himself to be completely and utterly clueless. This IS a mosque whether you Liberal idiots want to admit it or not. It has no place being built at Ground Zero. Move it somewhere else.

    August 18, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
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