A conservative Republican Senator has now come out strongly against efforts to block the construction of the Cordoba House Muslim community center near Ground Zero in New York: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT).
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In an interview with the local Fox affiliate in Salt Lake City, Hatch stated his support and past work for religious freedom. "So, if the Muslims own that property, that private property, and they want to build a mosque there, they should have the right to do so," said Hatch. He also discussed his past experiences dealing with discrimination against the construction of Mormon temples -- and when his late friend Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) helped him to resolve just such a dispute in Boston.
Hatch acknowledged that there have been objections to the construction of the center, on the grounds of sensitivity and whether it should be built, but ultimately he came down on the side of the right to build it without interference. He also added: "And there's a huge, I think, lack of support throughout the country for Islam to build that mosque there, but that should not make a difference if they decide to do it. I'd be the first to stand up for their rights."
It should be noted that there has been much discussion about a possible right-wing challenge against Hatch for his party's nomination in 2012, just as his co-Senator Bob Bennett lost renomination at the state convention this year. If that were to come to pass, don't be surprised to see these comments used against him.
(via Think Progress)