Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who himself constitutes half of the Muslim legislating force in the United States Congress, said Monday that the opposition to the Park51 Islamic cultural center project near Ground Zero was driven by Obama birthers and 'proponents of religious bigotry.'
During an interview with BBC, Ellison claimed that those spearheading the effort against the Park51 project were not adequately represented as families of 9/11 victims rejecting the proposal on emotional ground, and were rather anti-Obama, xenophobic types who wanted to suppress Islam throughout the country.
"The fact is that the real driver of this thing is not 9/11 families," Ellison said. "The real driver of it are people who openly proclaim that Barack Obama is not a citizen. The real organizers of this thing are people who are just proponents of religious bigotry. Nothing more, nothing less."
Ellison continued, connecting the current New York City movement to prevent the Park51 project to other anti-mosque operations around the nation.
"Around the country, this thing is emblematic of a larger issue," Ellison said. "There have been anti-mosque efforts in Kentucky, one gentleman who wants to burn a Qur'an in Florida, there have been efforts in Wisconsin and in the Chicago area and others."
Ellison went on to describe the seemingly growing anti-Muslim sentiment as the product of a small group of Islamophobic individuals, including many who used Fox News as a mouthpiece, who were working hard to "oppose Muslim engagement in American community life at every point."
Despite the current volatile nature of the "Ground Zero Mosque" debate, Ellison said that he had confidence that the American people would rise above the current trend of religious division flowing throughout the country
"I know we're going to come to our senses as we always do," Ellison said. "We've overcome momentous social barriers in the past and I think we are going to keep on doing that."