Democratic presidential candidate describes push as proud moment as mayor of New York
Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg has doubled down on his previous support for a mosque close to the 9/11 Ground Zero site, describing the push as one of his proudest moments while New York City mayor.
Speaking during a pro-Israel policy conference Monday, Bloomberg celebrated his defense of the controversial plan to build a mosque near the site of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center by Islamic jihadists.
“I was never prouder than when I stood in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty and argued that Muslim New Yorkers had every right to build a mosque anywhere in our city, including near the World Trade Center,” Bloomberg bragged to the applauding audience of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee event.
In 2010, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s introduced a proposal to create a 15-story Islamic cultural center on the site, sparking a national uproar.
Then-Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich said during an interview at the time that the people behind the mosque “are really radical Islamists who want to triumphally prove that they can build a mosque right next to a place where 3,000 Americans were killed by radical Islamists.”
“Those folks don’t have any interest in reaching out to the community,” Gingrich added.
Orthodox Muslims historically have regarded mosques built in territory previously not under Islamic law as symbols of conquest, according to WND.
Bloomberg described the proposed mosque in a 2010 speech at the time of the controversy as a symbol of tolerance.
The plan by the American Society for Muslim Advancement and the Cordoba Initiative, which had the support of then-President Obama, eventually was scrapped.
It had the support of then-President Obama and many other New York political figures in addition to Bloomberg.
Bloomberg, the only Democratic candidate at the AIPAC event, received a standing ovation after his speech Monday.
It was the second time in a month that a reference by Bloomberg to 9/11 stirred controversy.
He claimed in a February campaign ad that he “led” New York during the difficult time of the 9/11 attacks.
However, Rudy Giuliani was the mayor at the time.
Bloomberg took power the following year.
In his August 2010 speech at the time of the Ground Zero mosque controversy, Bloomberg said, “Muslims are as much a part of our city and our country as the people of any faith.
“The World Trade Centre site will forever hold a special place in our city, in our hearts,” he said.
“But we would be untrue to the best part of ourselves – and who we are as New Yorkers and Americans -– if we said no to a mosque in lower Manhattan.”
Bloomberg said he hoped the new mosque would bring the city closer together.
“Political controversies come and go, but our values and our traditions endure – and there is no neighborhood in this city that is off-limits to God’s love and mercy,” he said.