Ground Zero Mosque an Increasingly Divisive Political Issue

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The proposed site.Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Yesterday, the Anti-Defamation League, an influential Jewish organization, announced its surprising opposition to the proposed Islamic center and mosque to be built two blocks north of the World Trade Center site. The Defamation League joins a growing list of conservative politicians who have begun voicing fairly depressing opposition to the construction of this religious center, beginning with since-expelled tea party member Mark "Monkey God" Williams, to Sarah Palin, to Newt Gingrich. Some 600 miles from New York, Ilario Pantano, a Republican candidate for Congress in North Carolina, is campaigning on his opposition to the mosque, the Times reports, "stirring voters." Now, "Polling shows that a majority of Americans oppose building [the mosque] near ground zero."

Some Jewish leaders have come out in favor of the mosque, however, including Rabbi Irwin Kula, president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, who said, "The Anti-Defamation League should be ashamed of itself." New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo remains in support of the mosque, in the face of criticism from Rick Lazio, and a recent poll shows that a majority of Manhattanites support the building of the mosque, too, consistent with community board decisions. Even Mayor Bloomberg, a man who can remorselessly murder 170,000 Canada geese without a second thought, has remained stalwartly in favor of basic religious tolerance, saying, of the opposition to the mosque: "Democracy is stronger than this."

Debate Heating Up on Plans for Mosque Near Ground Zero [NYT]