Islamic Community Center in Lower Manhattan
Plans for construction of a Muslim community center and mosque on Park Place, about two blocks from the northwest corner of the World Trade Center site, has sparked much public debate. The debate is, itself, an example of our republic's constitutional protection for free speech, but ultimately I believe that the property holders have every right to build their community center.
Our nation has a long and proud tradition, exemplified by the First Amendment to the Constitution, of supporting the right to freedom of speech, religion and assembly. Thomas Jefferson was so proud of having drafted the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom that he specified that it should be listed on his tombstone. What's more, those objecting to its construction ignore the grand American tradition of religious and cultural diversity.
President Obama's speech on tolerance-- on the heels of Mayor Bloomberg's continued comments-- lights the way for the world to understand our constitutional principles. The President has once again used the power of words-- the power of free speech-- to explain the best of America
I think it is particularly important to note that the center has the support of the local community board, which overwhelmingly voted to support the center. I am pleased to join with them and with Mayor Bloomberg in supporting its construction.