Thursday, September 02, 2010
Image via WikipediaRangel Joins Muslims in Rally for Downtown Mosque - NYTimes.com
Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times Representative Charles B. Rangel with members of the Islamic Leadership Council outside City Hall on Wednesday at a rally against religious intolerance.
Facing one of the more contentious re-election campaigns of his 40-year career, United States Representative Charles B. Rangel waded into a polarizing debate on Wednesday as he spoke out in favor of an Islamic center and mosque planned near ground zero.
The proposal for the center two blocks north of the World Trade Center site has provoked a vitriolic argument over the limits of religious tolerance and the legacy of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Opponents say building a Muslim worship space so close to ground zero would be an insult to the memory of those killed in the attacks. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has been a staunch defender, proclaiming that the building of the center on Park Row is befitting a city that has made room for such a diverse population.
Calling himself “a patriot, one who loves this country,” Mr. Rangel said that it was important to recognize and ease the pain caused by those terrorist attacks. But, he suggested, some of the opposition to the center reflected critics’ unwillingness to embrace the country’s tradition of religious freedom and said that “we cannot allow this type of intolerance to continue.”
“I think that any politician that takes advantage of this problem that people may have of convenience or lack of it should be ashamed and I stand with the mayor and the governor in saying this isn’t a problem for Muslims,” he said. “It’s a problem for America and doing the right thing and respecting our Constitution.”