RACINE - When asked about the proposed mosque near Ground Zero, Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis. said he supports religious freedom and if you want to put up a house of worship you should be able to.
"I do not decide for Muslims where they want to buy property and have a religious facility any more than I do for Christians or anybody else. That clearly is not my role," he said when asked his opinion at a Journal Times Editorial Board meeting Tuesday.
He continued: "If the zoning laws and everything else are OK, and you have a piece of private property and you want to put up a house of worship in my country, this country, you should be able to do it."
The planned $100 million center would be built two blocks from the World Trade Center site, where nearly 2,800 people died. The project is headed by Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, a Muslim cleric who has worked to improve relations between Islam and the West, according to the Associated Press.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee on Monday criticized Feingold for not voicing his opinion. But Feingold said the issue is an "intentional distraction for political purposes."
While Feingold is in support of the mosque, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said the mosque should be built someplace else. President Barack Obama originally voiced support for the mosque, but in more recent comments has said he is not sure if it's a good idea.