September 11th ceremonies at both Ground Zero and the Pentagon on Saturday included President Barack Obama addressing reporters from Washington and Vice President Joe Biden speaking in Manhattan. Amidst the controversy of the proposed Ground Zero Mosque and a Florida Pastor Terry Jones who planned and later cancelled burning Korans on Saturday, the emotional wounds of a horrific day 9 years ago remain in the spotlight.
“As Americans, we will not and never will be at war with Islam. It was not a religion that attacked us that September day. It was Al-Qaeda, a sorry band of men which perverts religion,” said President Obama.
I spoke with former New York Governor George Patak, a Republican, last Wednesday about his thoughts on 9/11, the New York City mosque, and President Obama.
“He [President Obama] fails to acknowledge we are in a war against terror, because some of his policies are more damaging to this country,” said Mr. Pataki. Explaining why he thought Ground Zero has become so heavily politicized, he explained ”We were attacked by Islamic terrorists who despise the freedom that we hold so dear, and yet its going to be a symbol about how we come back and move forward without ever forgetting.
“I believe with the memorial that will be completed next year, it will be the most visited site in North America, and we will tell the story of September 11th proudly and appropriately, and there are those who fir their own political and religious purposes take advantage of that site, and we should not allow that to happen.”
Like most New Yorkers and Americans at large, the former governor, who was in office during the 9/11 attacks, remains steadfast in his views that a mosque should not be built in the vicinity of Ground Zero. Mr. Pataki points to reasons for his skepticism about the mosque and its main supporters; among them that New York Governor David Paterson offered an alternate site for the mosque.
“We have over 100 mosques in New York City. It really is a 15-story one hundred million dollar building. It’s supposed to be there in the name of outreach and building bridges, but I don’t see it that way. There’s questionable funding,” he said.
“The person who put down the cash to buy it was a waiter a year and a half ago, and he’s placed down almost $10 million in cash. Imam Rauf refused to condemn Hamas. He’s says September 11th was a result, in part of American policies, which I reject completely. I just think it’s the wrong people, the wrong funding sources, and the wrong location, and it shouldn’t be there.”
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