Former Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean has become the latest high-profile Democrat to oppose the construction of an Islamic community center blocks from New York’s Ground Zero. In a radio interview, Dean said he thinks the plans for a Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan would be “an affront” to 9/11 victims. Dean also appeared to erroneously suggest the proposed center would be built at Ground Zero.
Howard Dean: “We have to understand that it is a real affront to people who’ve lost their lives, including Muslims. That site doesn’t belong to any particular religion. It belongs to all Americans and all faiths. So I think a good, reasonable compromise could be worked out. I think it’s great to have mosques in American cities. There’s a growing number of American Muslims. I think most of those Muslims are moderate. I hope that they’ll have an influence on Islam throughout the world, because Islam is really back in the twelfth century in some of these countries, like Iran and Afghanistan, where they’re stoning people to death. And that can be fixed. And the way it’s fixed is not by pushing Muslims away, it’s by embracing them and have them become just like every other American — Americans who happen to be Muslims.”
Dean is the most prominent Democrat to oppose the center since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid came out against it last week. President Obama has said he supports the right of Muslims to build a center at the site, but has refused to comment on whether he supports the project itself. Asked about his comments during a visit to Ohio on Wednesday, Obama maintained his stance.
Reporter: “Any regrets jumping into the Islamic center?”
President Obama: “The answer is no regrets.”