The mayor is defending President Barack Obama’s comments about a proposed mosque near the World Trade Center site, in which the commander-in-chief said that U.S. Muslims have a right to build their house of worship.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been a vocal supporter of the mosque project on the grounds that it’s a question of religious freedom, and says it is one that the government has no business getting involved in.
The president on Friday came out strongly in support of the mosque developer’s right to build the 13-story center and prayer space in Lower Manhattan, but he later tried to clarify his remarks, saying he wasn’t commenting on the “wisdom of the project.”
Bloomberg today did not fault Obama for his follow-up comments, which were seen by some as an attempt to backpedal from his supportive words, but the mayor did not address the clarifying remarks head-on either.
Instead, the mayor said the president is a person who understands the value of diversity and the importance of protecting constitutional rights. He says the president has stood up for what is right.
“If we shout down a mosque and community center because it is two blocks away from the site where freedom was attacked, I think it would be a sad day for America,” said the mayor. “I think that standing up for America’s founding principles shows strength, not weakness, and I applaud the president for taking his stand. And it is my hope that the mosque and community center would add to the life and vitality of neighborhoods throughout this city.”
Bloomberg made it clear today that he would not support an effort to create a special zoning section around the World Trade Center site that might try to keep out projects like the mosque or even block places like a strip club.
The mayor says that part of Lower Manhattan has mosques, churches, temples, bars and restaurants — as well as adult entertainment and children’s entertainment — and that he thinks the zoning is just fine the way it is.