August 17th, 2010
04:48 PM ET

Obama courageous, then craven on mosque

Hamid Dabashi
Special to CNN

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/OPINION/08/16/dabashi.mosque.obama/tzleft.dabashi.courtesy.jpg caption="Dabashi: Obama showed political cowardice on issue; it was disheartening to Muslims" width=300 height=169]

At a White House dinner last week - an iftar on the occasion of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan –President Obama delivered what many rightly considered a courageous speech in which he weighed in on the controversy surrounding the proposed construction of a mosque near ground zero.

While acknowledging "sensitivities surrounding the development of Lower Manhattan," the president added eloquently, "This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are. The writ of our Founders must endure."

Muslims around the world and American Muslims in particular (judging by the reception in the blogosphere alone) were deeply moved and rightly grateful that against much popular opposition, the president had taken a principled position.

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Filed under: Islam • Opinion • President Barack Obama
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