Mayor Bloomberg continues to defend ‘Ground Zero mosque’ plan

There’s no doubt that the site of a planned Islamic community center and prayer space is close to the World Trade Center site, as it is two short blocks from the site of the terror attacks. While some see the proximity as offensive, others like Mayor Michael Bloomberg see it as a virtue, symbolic of America’s commitment to religious freedom.

“I happen to think this is a very appropriate place for somebody who wants to build a mosque, because it tells the world that America, and New York City, which is what I’m responsible for, really believes in what we preach,” said Bloomberg on Friday.

The mayor’s comments were perhaps his most forceful on the controversy, which in this election year has quickly become a political football.

Opinions seem to split along political party lines. Republican candidate for governor Rick Lazio and Republican Congressman Peter King have demanded an investigation into the project’s funding, while Democrats like Andrew Cuomo have been supportive of the project.

Bloomberg, a political independent, brought up the topic unsolicited at a forum with Dartmouth College students.

During his weekly radio show, the mayor also sparred with a caller who asked, “How do you consider it un-American to question the appropriateness of a mosque at Ground Zero?” The mayor responded, “I don’t think it’s un-American. I just don’t think that the government should keep some people from praying the way they want to and let others pray.”

NY1, 16 July 2010