President Obama Supports Building of Mosque Near Ground Zero

President speaks for first time about his feelings on ground zero mosque.

ByABC News
August 14, 2010, 1:05 PM

Aug. 14, 2010— -- President Obama seemed to dial back today on his statement of support for plans to build a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero, the site of the terror attacks of 9/11.

During a visit to the Gulf Coast today, Obama said that while he believes Muslims have the right to build the mosque and community center so close to where two hijacked jetliners slammed into the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001, killing 3,000 people, he is not sure it's a good idea.

He said he was not commenting on the "wisdom" of the plan Friday night, when he spoke Friday night at a White House ceremony to mark the Islamic holy month of Ramadan

"As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country," he said Friday evening.

"That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan in accordance with local laws and ordinances," he said. "This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable."

Republicans were quick to criticize the president for his support of the mosque plan.

"President Obama is wrong," said Rep. Peter King, whose district is on Long Island, N.Y. "It's insensitive and uncaring for the Muslim community to build a mosque in the shadow of ground zero."

The planned $100 million Islamic community center would be built two blocks from the World Trade Center site, and the controversy over the plan has been building for weeks.

Some family members of the victims of the attacks said they were stunned by the president's remarks.

"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, co-founder of 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America, in a statement released Saturday.