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article imageObama supports construction of mosque near Ground Zero

By Lynn Curwin     Aug 13, 2010 in World
Washington - US President Barack Obama has defended controversial plans to build a mosque and Muslim cultural center near the site of the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York.
“As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country,” The National Post reported Obama saying during a speech he made at an Iftar dinner at the White House. “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.”
Iftar is the meal which breaks a Muslim’s daily fast during Ramadan.
Obama said that commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable, and he noted that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution had established the freedom of religion.
“Al Qaeda’s cause is not Islam; it is a gross distortion of Islam,” he stated. “These are not religious leaders; these are terrorists who murder innocent men, women and children.”
Obama was applauded for the speech. Until now, the White House had not taken a stand on the mosque.
On August 3, a New York city agency cleared the way for construction of a mosque and community centre two blocks from the site of the Sept. 11 attacks. Plans are for the 13-storey centre to include a 500-seat auditorium, art exhibition spaces and a swimming pool.
Some family members of people killed in the attacks have spoken out against the plans, as have politicians. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and many religious organizations support the plans.
About 2,750 people were killed in the attacks, when al Qaeda hijackers fly two planes into the towers of the World Trade Center.
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