The Independent (16 August 2010) carries a leading article supporting Barack Obama's decision to support the "Ground Zero" mosque which has had staunch opposition in the US:
"The very idea of building a mosque in lower Manhattan was bound to be divisive, and it has indeed been fiercely opposed. After a long planning battle, permission was finally granted only at the beginning of this month. Yet Mr Obama, with or without his uncommon family background, is right to have said what he said, and to have said it as forcefully as he did.
Religious freedom is one of the great strengths of the United States, and one that has facilitated its successful integration of many waves of immigrants. Nor, although it requires particular generosity of spirit after 9/11, is Islam the only religion that represents a challenge to the status quo in America, now and in the decades to come. The rapid increase in the Hispanic population, which is predominantly Roman Catholic, is also bringing change to many parts of the United States, even as the traditional White Anglo-Saxon Protestant establishment is in numerical decline.
Mr Obama's election as the country's first non-white President was an extremely positive sign of US voters' openness to cultural change. But there are still those who harbour suspicion and even hatred of the diversity that he represents. It is regrettable that Mr Obama felt he had to underline the need for religious tolerance as he did, but admirable that – despite the sensitivity of the mosque's location – he nonetheless went ahead and gave it the seal of presidential approval."
You can read the full article here.