Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer had strong words for Mark Williams, the chairman of Tea Party Express, in a press conference today in support of the Cordoba House in Lower Manhattan.
A group called the Cordoba Initiative plans to build a cultural center and mosque at 45 Park Place, blocks from the World Trade Center site. Their plan, which technically requires no approval to be built because it's an "as of right" project, has attracted much attention and some anger.
On his blog, Williams wrote, "The monument would consist of a Mosque for the worship of the terrorists' monkey-god." That post is now only available to people who have purchased a copy of Williams' book.
Stringer said Williams is a "thug," and that his anti-Muslim blog post "disgraces the memories of the people who lost their lives" on September 11. He called on Tea Party Express to end its relationship with Williams because of its chairman's "incendiary, bigoted statements."
Despite criticism from the likes of Stringer and Mayor Bloomberg, Williams has refused to apologize for his words.
Stringer was joined by several other New York elected officials who likely have little to fear from Tea Party-backed electoral challengers, including City Comptroller John Liu, State Sen. Daniel Squadron, and Councilwoman Margaret Chin.
The leader of the Cordoba House project, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, compared it to the 92nd Street Y, a cultural institution on the Upper East Side. Rauf said he was "surprised by the lies, surprised by the bigotry" that have erupted since the area's community board gave its ceremonial seal of approval to the project.
But Rauf also said that the media attention the project has attracted was necessary to "amplify" the voice of moderate Muslims. "We want the media, and we need to be here," near Ground Zero, he said.
Stringer said he was committed to making sure the Cordoba House is built.
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