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by RAY FLEMING
ON most political and cultural issues in the United States the shared view of Christian President Obama and Jewish Mayor Bloomberg would be sufficient to carry the day. But on the issue of the Mosque and cultural centre to be built close to the 9/11 site in New York they find themselves in a minority. A CNN poll this week showed that 70 per cent of Americans are opposed to the Mosque. Despite that poll, on Friday night at a dinner at the White House President Obama spoke on the issue for the first time, saying: “This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable...I believe that Muslims have the same right to practise their religion as everyone else in this country.” New York Mayor Bloomberg spoke in similar terms recently and yesterday called Mr Obama's words “a clarion defence of the freedom of religion”. It is depressing that as diverse a nation as America should find itself in this position. There are very few Americans who are not themselves immigrants or descendants of relatively recent immigrants. Yet once established as Americans they forget the principles than enabled them to achieve that status. The current hostility to Muslims in the United States assumes that they are all members of al-Qaeda like the 9/11 terrorists whereas the overwhelming majority just want to be good Americans. To single them out for discrimination is a denial of American values.