Carson, Vets On Opposite Sides Of Mosque Debate

Lawmakers Weigh In On NYC Mosque

An Indiana congressman is speaking out in favor of a controversial plan to build a mosque near the World Trade Center site.

Rep. Andre Carson, D-Indianapolis, one of only two members of the Muslim faith currently serving in Congress, told 6News' Norman Cox it's a question of distinguishing between religious extremists and moderates who are peace-loving and want to contribute to America.

"Are we a country of laws and principles? Or are we a country who will be moved by the winds of emotion each and every time there are issues that come up to divert us from the true meaning and intent of the founding fathers?" Carson said.

Carson also called it an issue that should be left to New Yorkers to decide.

The proposal calls for the building an Islamic education center and mosque two blocks from the site of ground zero.

President Barack Obama originally seemed to support for the plan, saying Friday, "This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable. That includes the right to build a place of worship."

But he clarified his position on Saturday, saying he wasn't weighing in on the mosque proposal specifically.

"I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there," he said. "I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding."

Several members at American Legion Post 497 on Indianapolis west side said they think the plan is insensitive because the terrorists who struck the buildings in 2001 were Islamic extremists.

"They have a right to build a mosque, however, think it's an insult to build it so close to the ground zero by the religious group that all of the terrorists who committed 9-11 belonged to," said Ron Steele.

"It's just like a bar. There's a board that says they can't build a bar within so many feet of a church. Why should they be able to build a mosque so close to ground zero when Iran was responsible for it, or Iraq?" said Steve Schachte.

Rabbi Sandy Sasso of Congregation Beth-el Zedeck offered a different perspective.

She said the mosque has been the subject of much inflammatory and bigoted rhetoric, but that it, in reality, is two blocks away from ground zero and can't be seen from there.

She also pointed out that it would not be a traditional mosque, but a community center serving all faiths, and that the imam attempting to build it has been trying to do so long before 9-11.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it would be "a sad day for America" if opponents successfully kill the proposal.