Obama defends his decision to wade into the mosque controversy but backs off his previous stance
“In this country we treat everybody equally and in accordance with the law, regardless of race, regardless of religion,” Obama said when asked about his remarks at a White House dinner Friday marking the start of Ramadan.
He did, however, insist that his defense of the organizers’ right to build the mosque did not mean he endorsed the project..
“I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there,” Obama continued. “I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. That’s what our country is about. And I think it’s very important as difficult as some of these issues are that we stay focused on who we are as a people and what our values are all about.”
Families of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, as well as prominent Republicans, have criticized Obama for saying Friday that he supports building a mosque near Ground Zero.
On Friday night Obama took a much sharper stance on the issue.
“Ground Zero is, indeed, hallowed ground,” he said. “But let me be clear: as a citizen and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. 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.”