As expected. He says it is all about religious freedom. Actually, it isn't about religious freedom at all. It's about whether a triumphal mosque should be built at Ground Zero. Obama, like Bloomberg, is acting as if the Ground Zero mega-mosque is the only mosque in the U.S. "Obama throws support behind controversial Islamic center," by Dan Gilgoff for CNN, August 14:
Washington (CNN) -- President Obama threw his support behind a controversial proposal to build an Islamic center and mosque near New York's ground zero, saying Friday that "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," Obama said at a White House Iftar dinner celebrating the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
The president's remarks drew praise from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who announced his support for the Islamic center last week.
Bloomberg compared Obama's speech to a letter President George Washington wrote in support of a Jewish congregation in Newport, Rhode Island. "President Obama's words tonight evoked President Washington's own august reminder that 'all possess alike liberty,' " Bloomberg said in a statement.
"I applaud President Obama's clarion defense of the freedom of religion tonight," he said.
To learn more about the "ground zero" mosque, see CNN's Belief Blog
Critics of the proposed Islamic center quickly denounced Obama's remarks. "President Obama is wrong," said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.). "It is insensitive and uncaring for the Muslim community to build a mosque in the shadow of Ground Zero. Unfortunately, the President caved into political correctness."
"While the Muslim community has the right to build the mosque, they are abusing that right by needlessly offending so many people who have suffered so much," King said in a statement. "The right and moral thing for President Obama to have done was to urge Muslim leaders to respect the families of those who died and move their mosque away from Ground Zero."
Obama, who said he was speaking both as a citizen and as president, invoked the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which critics of the Islamic center cite as the main reason for preventing its construction.
"We must all recognize and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of lower Manhattan," Obama said, according to his prepared remarks. "The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country."
"The pain and suffering experienced by those who lost loved ones is unimaginable," he continued. "So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. Ground zero is, indeed, hallowed ground."...