President Obama backs plan to build mosque near Ground Zero - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

President: Muslims have the right to build mosque in Lower Manhattan

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WASHINGTON D.C. (WOIO) - President Obama backed a plan to allow Muslims to build a mosque in Lower Manhattan Friday night during Iftar - the meal that breaks the day of fasting - celebrating Ramadan in the State Dining Room.

The mosque would be part of $100 million Islamic community center just two blocks from where nearly 3,000 people perished when hijacked jetliners slammed into the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001.

During his speech, President Obama said "As a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country.  (Applause.)  And 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.  This is America.  And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable.  The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are.  The writ of the Founders must endure.

We must never forget those who we lost so tragically on 9/11, and we must always honor those who led the response to that attack -– from the firefighters who charged up smoke-filled staircases, to our troops who are serving in Afghanistan today. And let us also remember who we're fighting against, and what we're fighting for.  Our enemies respect no religious freedom.  Al Qaeda's cause is not Islam -– it's a gross distortion of Islam.  These are not religious leaders -– they're terrorists who murder innocent men and women and children.  In fact, al Qaeda has killed more Muslims than people of any other religion -– and that list of victims includes innocent Muslims who were killed on 9/11.

So that's who we're fighting against.  And the reason that we will win this fight is not simply the strength of our arms -– it is the strength of our values.  The democracy that we uphold. The freedoms that we cherish.  The laws that we apply without regard to race, or religion, or wealth, or status.  Our capacity to show not merely tolerance, but respect towards those who are different from us –- and that way of life, that quintessentially American creed, stands in stark contrast to the nihilism of those who attacked us on that September morning, and who continue to plot against us today."

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