Pomeroy: Don’t build mosque near ground zeroBISMARCK — An Islamic center and mosque should not be built near the New York City site where the World Trade Center was destroyed in a terrorist attack nine years ago, Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., said Tuesday.
By: Dale Wetzel, Associated Press
BISMARCK — An Islamic center and mosque should not be built near the New York City site where the World Trade Center was destroyed in a terrorist attack nine years ago, Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., said Tuesday.
Pomeroy spoke on the subject after a letter, signed by a group of conservative activists, was delivered to Pomeroy’s Bismarck office Tuesday, asking his opinion about the mosque project. It is part of a proposed $100 million Islamic community center planned for construction two blocks away from the World Trade Center site. Muslim prayer services have been held in the building since 2009.
“In my opinion, the overriding issue here is the sensitivities of the surviving family members of those who lost their lives in 9/11,” Pomeroy told The Associated Press.
“I want the local (zoning) board to make the decision, but I want the decision to be based on the sensitivities of the surviving family members,” Pomeroy said. “I want them to revisit the decision. It’s not clear to me that they gave enough consideration to that element of this issue when they first decided to allow the approval.”
Republican members of Congress and candidates across the country have taken up the issue after President Barack Obama, at a White House dinner last Friday, gave a speech that was widely interpreted as an endorsement of the project. The president later said he had intended to defend religious freedom.
Pomeroy said Obama “should not have weighed in on this local zoning question.”
“In the end, his contribution to the debate was not positive,” Pomeroy said of the president’s remarks. “He didn’t speak for me on that one.”
Pomeroy is running for his 10th term against Republican Rick Berg. Berg has not publicly discussed the mosque issue since Obama’s speech last Friday, and his campaign website, blog and Facebook page did not mention it Tuesday night.
Pomeroy said he recently visited the World Trade Center site with his wife and two children and toured an adjacent museum that is run by relatives of the attack’s victims.
“The sensitivities, even at this point, are still absolutely raw,” Pomeroy said. “If the families believe that the proposed site is offensively close, then I think it’s too close.”