[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/23/art.ngingrich.gi.jpg caption ="Newt Gingrich on Thursday slammed a proposal to build a mosque near Ground Zero in New York City."] (CNN) - Days after Sarah Palin's criticism of a planned mosque near Ground Zero riled New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is calling the proposed project "a test of the timidity, passivity and historic ignorance of American elites."
"There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. The time for double standards that allow Islamists to behave aggressively toward us while they demand our weakness and submission is over," Gingrich, a potential 2012 presidential candidate writes in a post on his web site Thursday.
"Those Islamists and their apologists who argue for 'religious toleration' are arrogantly dishonest. They ignore the fact that more than 100 mosques already exist in New York City," he adds.
Plans to build the $100 million, 13-story 'Cordoba House' three blocks from the site of the attacks on September 11, 2001 have sparked an emotional debate throughout the city. The developer, Sharif El-Gamal, describes the project as an "Islamic community center" that will include a 500-seat performing arts center, a lecture hall, an exhibition space, a swimming pool, a gym, a culinary school, a restaurant and a prayer space for Muslims.
"'Cordoba House is a deliberately insulting term," writes Gingrich. "It refers to Cordoba, Spain – the capital of Muslim conquerors who symbolized their victory over the Christian Spaniards by transforming a church there into the world's third-largest mosque complex."
Palin - the former Republican vice presidential nominee - fueled the debate Sunday, writing on Twitter, "Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts."
Bloomberg, a supporter of the project, expressed his disagreement with Palin earlier this week, saying that "everything the United States stands for and New York stands for is tolerance and openness."
But Gingrich is making clear he's on the exact same page as his potential White House rival.
"We have not been able to rebuild the World Trade Center in nine years," he writes. "Now we are being told a 13 story, $100 million megamosque will be built within a year overlooking the site of the most devastating surprise attack in American history."
"America is experiencing an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization. Sadly, too many of our elites are the willing apologists for those who would destroy them if they could," he also says.
New York's Landmarks Preservation Commission is scheduled to vote in August on whether the 1850s structure on the site of the proposed center should be granted landmark status. Even if the commission approves landmark status, though, that may not necessarily halt construction of the center.