Huffpost New York

Mayor Bloomberg Delivers Teary-Eyed Defense Of Ground Zero Islamic Center

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Speaking on Governor's Island, misty-eyed New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised a decision to allow an Islamic center to be built near Ground Zero.

Bloomberg choked up during his delivery, which highlighted the spirit of religious tolerance and freedoms once sought by New York's earliest settlers.

"We may not always agree with every one of our neighbors. That's life and it's part of living in such a diverse and dense city. But we also recognize that part of being a New Yorker is living with your neighbors in mutual respect and tolerance. It was exactly that spirit of openness and acceptance that was attacked on 9/11," he said.

"Let us not forget that Muslims were among those murdered on 9/11 and that our Muslim neighbors grieved with us as New Yorkers and as Americans. We would betray our values - and play into our enemies' hands - if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else. In fact, to cave to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists - and we should not stand for that."

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Salon writer Justin Elliott notes that three Jewish leaders -- Rabbi Bob Kaplan from the Jewish Community Council, Rabbi Irwin Kula from the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, and Cara Berkowitz from the UJA Federation -- were present for the speech, despite the Anti-Defamation League's opposition of the project.

Earlier this morning the Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously voted against granting landmark status to a building near the World Trade Center site, which can now be demolished to make way for an Islamic community center and mosque.

Read a transcript of Bloomberg's speech here.

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