The mayor restated his support of the ground-zero mosque Tuesday night in front of a predominantly Muslim audience at the annual Ramadan iftar dinner held at his mansion. In line with his previous remarks, Bloomberg continued to defend the project as symbolic of American principles, as well as a key element in the war on terrorism.
Bloomberg, who was joined by the center’s developer and the wife of its imam, said that even if the mosque was moved, that wouldn’t end the controversy.
“The question will then become, ‘How big should the ‘no-mosque zone’ around the World Trade Center be?’ There is already a mosque four blocks away. Should it, too, be moved? This is a test of our commitment to American values. We must have the courage of our convictions. We must do what is right, not what is easy.”
And here's a longer, spirited excerpt from his prepared remarks:
But if we say that a mosque and community center should not be built near the perimeter of the World Trade Center site, we would compromise our commitment to fighting terror with freedom.
We would undercut the values and principles that so many heroes died protecting. We would feed the false impressions that some Americans have about Muslims. We would send a signal around the world that Muslim Americans may be equal in the eyes of the law, but separate in the eyes of their countrymen. And we would hand a valuable propaganda tool to terrorist recruiters, who spread the fallacy that America is at war with Islam.
Islam did not attack the World Trade Center -- Al-Qaeda did. To implicate all of Islam for the actions of a few who twisted a great religion is unfair and un-American. Today we are not at war with Islam -- we are at war with Al-Qaeda and other extremists who hate freedom.
The members of our military are men and women at arms -- battling for hearts and minds. And their greatest weapon in that fight is the strength of our American values, which have always inspired people around the world. But if we do not practice here at home what we preach abroad -- if we do not lead by example - we undermine our soldiers. We undermine our foreign policy objectives. And we undermine our national security.