Mosque near ground zero and the tale of one Republican who backs it

An Indiana mayor, whose city helped the NYFD rebuild after 9/11, is one Republican who has no issues with plans for the mosque near ground zero.

By , Staff writer

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    Bette Cassaro, left, of Woodside, N.Y., protects Mohammad Abdul Awal, right, of Queens, N.Y., from the passing foot traffic as he prays during a rally in support of a proposed Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero in New York, Sept. 11.
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Many Republican officials have come out against the proposed Islamic center a few blocks from ground zero.

In New York alone, there's former Mayor Rudoph Giuliani, former Rep. Rick Lazio, who is running for governor, and Carl Paladino, the billionaire Mr. Lazio is running against in the New York GOP primary on Tuesday. Nationally, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and Rep. John Boehner, the House Republican leader, have all come out against the proposed mosque and community center, called the Cordoba Initiative.

But there are some Republicans who say they have no problems with a mosque at that location. Among them are New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Republican all his life until he ran as an independent in his third term, and Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, a Mormon and a key architect of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which prevents communities from enacting zoning laws that put undue burdens on and discriminate against houses of worship. Now, add Jim Brainard, mayor of Carmel, Ind.

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Carmel, Ind.?

WATCH VIDEO: Build a 'mosque' near ground zero?

While Carmel is a long way from New York and ground zero, the city, which is outside of Indianapolis, has a connection.

After 9/11, New York’s fire department was decimated by the losses at the World Trade Center. So Carmel, at its own expense, sent its senior fire department trainers to New York to help the NYFD quickly train new recruits to help keep the city safe.

The next year, New York sent a group of firefighters to Carmel to thank the city for its effort, says Mayor Brainard.

Brainard, who was involved in the decision to help New York, knows the World Trade Center site and some of the firefighters who worked in the days and weeks to try to recover victims' remains. He has no issues with the proposed Cordoba Initiative.

“This country was built on the premise of freedom of religion,” says Brainard, who was passing through New York on his way to speak at a conference in Qatar, a Middle East emirate. “We are a smarter people than to blame a radical act of terrorism on an entire religion.”

WATCH VIDEO: Build a 'mosque' near ground zero?

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