'Ground Zero mosque must be built'
LAST UPDATED: 08/16/2010 16:51
Hamas official: Muslims have right to build just like Jews.
Construction cranes tower above One World Trade Center, Friday, August 13, 2010 in New York. Photo: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
NEW YORK — Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar said Sunday that Muslims "have to build" a mosque near ground zero.RELATED:
said Muslims "have to build everywhere" so that followers can pray,
just like Christians and Jews build their places of worship.
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Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas, spoke on "Aaron Klein Investigative Radio" on WABC-AM.
US Sen. Chuck Schumer says Al-Zahar's comments did not carry any weight
because Hamas is a terrorist organization. Schumer has not taken a stand
on the mosque.
Rep. Peter King, who opposes the mosque, says he won't respond to Hamas.
The mosque is a project of the Cordoba Initiative, an advocacy group
that promotes improved relations between Islam and the West. It didn't
respond to Al-Zahar's comments.
The Hamas official's comments came after US President Barack Obama on
Friday forcefully endorsed allowing the building of the mosque and said
the country's founding principles demanded no less, even as 70 percent
of US citizens opposed the mosque's construction in a recent poll.
"As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same
right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country," Obama
said, weighing in for the first time on a controversy that has riven New
York City and Americans.
While his pronouncement concerning the mosque might find favor in the
Muslim world, Obama's stance runs counter to the opinions of the
majority of Americans, according to polls. A CNN/Opinion Research poll
released this week found that nearly 70 percent of Americans opposed the
mosque plan while just 29 percent approved. A number of Democratic
politicians have shied away from the controversy.
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