With a number of Republicans hoping to make political hay out of President Obama’s brief expression of conditional support for the so-called Ground Zero Mosque, Democratic leaders are looking to jump on the bandwagon as well, publicly condemning the construction of the community center on “hallowed ground.”
Top Democrat Howard Dean condemned the mosque as a “real affront,” joining Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D – NV), who condemned it yesterday. Dean said he was open to the idea of the mosque being opened somewhere else.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D – CA) went a step further, demanding Congress investigate the community center and who was funding it. She added that while freedom of religion is a “constitutional right,” that did not mean locals couldn’t block the construction of religious sites on private land. She also called for a secondary investigation of the people criticizing the mosque, presumably not including herself.
Still, it does not appear that local governments have generally claimed the right to forbid the construction of religious buildings, nor has Congress made it a habit of holding investigations into the construction of religious institutions.
Former speaker Newt Gingrich, a Republican, had also come out angrily against the plan, comparing the construction of a community center two blocks from Ground Zero to allowing Nazis to put signs in front of the Holocaust Museum.
With the massive upswell of opposition to the mosque, many are now predicting it will never be built, with officials saying the group likely doesn’t have enough lobbyists to make the construction happen, something they say is obligatory for any construction in Manhattan.