August 18th, 2010
12:29 PM ET
10 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. ex-sarge

    This is a flash point non issue designed to distract us from real issues: unemployment, the deficit, the BP disaster in the Gulf...

    August 18, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  2. Marry

    The President is correct in his assessment in connection with the Islamic Center.
    So of cause, he does not need to regret it at all. It is good to see that many, after some thinking, came to the same conclusion! Would be even better when the rest would stop with the “Yes, but…”!

    August 18, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  3. MacTooley

    Keep Right On Throwing More Gasoline On That Fire Your Knumbskull Your Own Party Is Running Away From You Like A Blazing Carwreck

    August 18, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  4. sha

    He has nothing to appologize for. He was correct, and you cant characterize all muslims as terrorist.

    August 18, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    I really failed to see what all the discussion is about..Pres Obama was totally correct in his statements, and should have no regrets..Its the GOP and their collegues who are trying of course to make this a political footbal like they do everything else..We are fighing in both Iraq and Afghanistan for Muslims, and yet folks here object to their freedom of religion. Talk about hypocracy !!!! Go Pres Obama !!!

    August 18, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  6. Ben in Texas

    What's to argue with? The president is bound by oath to uphold the Constitution, which he did. (His predecessor didn't, but that's a different story.) If anyone believes it is not the right of Muslims to build their center in NY, then that person does not uphold the First Amendment.

    This "controversy" is no controversy. It is yet another attempt by the right wingers to subvert America by playing to their racist, xenophobic, fanatical base of ignorant supporters. (If the shoe fits, reader...)

    August 18, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  7. John

    I think President Obama is right they do have constitutional religious right too build it where they want. Do i think it should be build there NO.But the republican only use the constitution only when it suit them,not for the American people regardless of race or religious.

    August 18, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |

    I want a president that will stand up for something and defend his oath of office and the US constitution ...and NOT the republikkklan-Teabagging party that will flip-flop on the constitution based on some polls or the sensitivity of the issues at hand....denigrating the US constitution just to fit their narrow republikkklan ideological agenda!!!

    August 18, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  9. Jim

    Every American knows, deep down, that our Constitution's 1st Amendment guarantees religious freedom, whether or not we like that religion. Most Americans understand that we are not at war with the Islamic religion or Muslims, only the terrorists.

    I dislke intensely the Scientology religion, but I would recognize Scientology's right to have its own place of worship, even in lower Manhattan, if local zoning codes permitted it.

    Religious freedom does not depend on majority opinion or how popular the religious group may be.

    Our President understands and honors his oath to defend our Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and I applaud him for that!


    the President is correct.

    August 18, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  10. Nelson, Colorado Springs Co

    New York City want to build the Islamic center and mosque have the constitutional right to religious freedom. President Obama don't need to have any REGERTS.

    August 18, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  11. alpha_nu_916

    i wonder what the founders & framers of our nation would think regarding the rhetoric surrounding this proposed center.
    sad to see so many think that majority rules, when the constitution specifically protects the rights & freedoms of the minority.

    August 18, 2010 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
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