Obama's Mosque Comments Fuel Controversy

By The Associated Press

U.S. President Barack Obama has ignited a political controversy with his comments about the rights of American Muslims to build an Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero, the site of the 2001 terror attacks on New York City. The administration had claimed the issue was local, until the President made his remarks at the annual White House Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan.

President Obama is crisscrossing the nation, speaking about the economy, campaigning for Democrats ahead of November’s congressional elections. Political experts say he needs the diversion to steer public attention away from his recent comments.

What Obama said

On August 13, the President spoke about the proposal to build a mosque two blocks from the site of the September 11 terror attacks.

“Muslims have the right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country,” President Obama said. “And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan.”

And, that set off a political firestorm.

A CNN poll finds that nearly 70 percent of Americans oppose the mosque, even though the project was approved by New York City authorities.