'No Regrets' On Mosque Issue, Obama Says - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

'No Regrets' On Mosque Issue, Obama Says

NEW YORK — With the controversy still swirling over plans for a mosque near the former World Trade Center, President Obama said Wednesday that he had "no regrets" about his involvement in the debate.

Answering a reporter's question at a political event in Columbus, Ohio, the president initially paused, then turned to a TV camera and said, "The answer is — no regrets."

Obama entered the fray Friday, saying he supported the right of Muslims to build there. Amid political backlash a day later, the president said he was commenting on religious freedom, not the exact location of the mosque .

With Republicans trying to wrest control of Congress from Obama's Democrats, and facing a tough re-election battle of his own, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid broke with the president over the issue Monday , saying the mosque should be built elsewhere.

Many Republicans have called the proposal an affront to the memory of those killed in the 2001 attacks, although a few have warned their colleagues not to turn the issue into a political football.

The planned $100 million center would be built two blocks from the World Trade Center site, where nearly 2,800 people died when Islamic extremists flew jets into the twin towers. The project is headed by Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, a Muslim cleric who has worked to improve relations between Islam and the West.

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