Obama mosque dispute: In backing plans, he parts with many Americans
The president has given backing to an Islamic center near ground zero. The Obama mosque support may be well received by the Muslim world, but it will hardly buoy his struggling ratings in US polls.
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The mosque controversy, argues British commentator Douglas Murray on The Daily Beast website, highlights a central credibility problem for the Islamic world: While Muslim adherents demand respect for the tenets of their religion, they, in the case of the ground zero mosque, have failed to show equal deference for what's been called "the psychological shadow" of the former twin towers.Skip to next paragraph
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"It doesn't matter what Muslims believe, anymore than anybody else," Mr. Murray writes. "But it matters how they behave. If the New York mosque is anything to go by, that test at least is being failed by some American Muslims very conspicuously indeed."
By backing the mosque, Obama sided with the imam behind the Cordoba House project, Feisal Abdul Rauf, who is set to leave on a State Department-sponsored goodwill trip to the Middle East. But with the president’s stand, he has parted ways with at least some of those connected to the 9/11 victims.
"Barack Obama has abandoned America at the place where America's heart was broken nine years ago, and where her true values were on display for all to see," said Debra Burlingame, a spokeswoman for some Sept. 11 victims' families and the sister of a pilot killed in the attacks, according to the Associated Press.
Obama's support of the mosque may help the US image in the Muslim world, a key goal of the Obama presidency. But even the president's supporters acknowledge that he'll hardly buoy his struggling ratings in US polls after choosing sides in a project that reverberates so emotionally for millions of Americans.
But establishing a moral path for the country, many argue, is part of a president's responsibility.
"There's little political upside for a President already seen by some as soft on terror, a President whom 1 in 10 Americans insanely believe to be a Muslim, to back the right of this house of worship to locate near the site of the 9/11 attacks. Especially with two-thirds of the public against it," writes the New York Daily News' Joshua Greenman. "He deserves credit for not continuing to sidestep this wrenching question. And for standing on principle."