By BILL SANDERSON, NY Post
Mayor Bloomberg wonâ€™t stop talking about the mosque near Ground Zero, harshly attacking opponents yesterday who â€œought to be ashamed of themselves.â€
Sounding more supportive of freedom of religion than freedom of speech, Bloomberg said, “I just don’t think the government should tell people where they can pray and where they can build houses of worship.
“It is a shame that we even have to talk about this,” the mayor added on his WOR radio broadcast.
The mayor ratcheted up his rhetoric against critics just days after defending the mosque in an impassioned speech on Governors Island, with the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop.
Yesterday, Bloomberg said cops and firefighters who died on 9/11 didn’t ask people in the World Trade Center, “Where do you pray?” as they tried to save their lives.
“Most of the [9/11 rescuers’] families that I’ve talked to, they say, ‘Of course our loved ones gave their lives to protect the very freedoms that we’re talking about here — people being able to practice religion and say what they want to say and be in control of their own destiny,’ ” the mayor said.
Bloomberg also blasted demands for a probe of the mosque builders’ finances.
“Every time they pass the basket in your church and you throw a buck in, [do you want someone to] run over and say, ‘OK, now where do you come from, who are your parents, where’d you get this money?’ . . . A handful of people ought to be ashamed of themselves.”
The Landmarks Preservation Commission’s decision Tuesday to let the 152-year-old former Burlington Coat Factory building on Park Place be torn down was based solely on the building’s lack of “redeeming historic value,” Bloomberg said.
The building is owned by SoHo Properties. Its CEO, Sharif El-Gamal, hopes to raise $100 million for a 13-story mosque and cultural center.
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