New York, Aug 25 (ANI): New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has backed plans to building a Muslim community center and mosque near Ground Zero, saying, opposing the project would "compromise our commitment to fighting terror with freedom."
"If we say that a mosque and community center should not be built near the perimeter of the World Trade Center site, we would undercut the values and principles that so many heroes died protecting and hand a valuable propaganda tool to terrorist recruiters who spread the fallacy that America is at war with Islam."
"Let me declare that we in New York are Jews and Christians and Muslims, and we always have been. And above all of that, we are Americans, each with an equal right to worship and pray where we choose," he added.
Speaking at an annual Iftar dinner that was attended by two key organizers of the mosque, Daisy Khan, wife of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, and developer Sharif el-Gamal of Soho Properties, Bloomberg said moving ahead with the project would exercise the freedom envisioned by the Founding Fathers of America.
Despite controversial remarks made by Rauf against America, Bloomberg praised him for speaking at interfaith memorial service for Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, a Jew, who was murdered by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002, by declaring that he, too, was a Jew.
Daisy Khan called Bloomberg's speach "extremely important, and added, "He delivered a passionate speech . . . in defense of our deep American values."
"Bloomberg touches my heart every time that I get to hear him speak on our rights as Americans and his brave and unwavering statements," Gamal said. (ANI)