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Obama: Muslims have right to build Ground Zero mosque

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WJC)–US President Barack Obama has defended a controversial plan to build an Islamic center near Ground Zero in New York, saying Muslims had a “right to do so.”

Speaking at a Ramadan fast-breaking dinner (iftar) at the White House, Obama said Muslims “have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. The White House’s Ramadan celebration was held in the State Dining Room with about 90 guests.

“Let me be clear: as a citizen, and as president, I believe 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.

However, he added: “Now, we must all recognize and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of Lower Manhattan. The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country. And the pain and the experience of suffering by those who lost loved ones is just unimaginable. So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders.”

“This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable,” Obama said.

The proposed center has triggered a debate over religious tolerance in American society after 9/11. Some relatives of the 3,000 victims who died on that day have come out against the mosque, as have prominent politicians.

Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

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