New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who is also a Democratic candidate for governor, alleged Wednesday that Islamophobia is what is motivating Republican gubernatorial candidate and former U.S. Congressman Rick Lazio to question plans for a 13-story mosque and Islamic community center to be built on Ground Zero.
Cuomo was responding to a letter from Lazio demanding that Cuomo, as attorney general, launch an investigation of the Cordoba Initiative, the non-profit organization behind plans to build the Ground Zero mosque.
In the missive, Lazio cited three issues that he finds especially troubling about the project: Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s (the imam heading the project) unwillingness to label Hamas a terrorist organization, Rauf’s association with Perdana Global (a sponsor of the flotilla that attempted to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip in May), and what Lazio believes to be the project’s “questionable” funding sources.
“Given that the Cordoba Initiative is a legally registered charitable organization with the New York Attorney General’s Office, my fellow New Yorkers and I are asking you to immediately conduct a thorough investigation of the previous items highlighted by the media with respect to the construction of this mosque in lower Manhattan,” Lazio wrote, “The people have the right to know if this ‘charity’ is using its resources in a legitimate, legal, and charitable way.”
While brushing away calls for an investigation during a news conference in Manhattan, Cuomo took a shot at Lazio by accusing him of religious intolerance. According to Capitol Tonight, Cuomo said, “If there is a criminal case, then there is a criminal case. But, if this is: ‘I don’t like this religion, and I don’t like this religion on this block.’…What are we about, if not religious freedom? What is the country about if not religious freedom? What is this state about if not religious freedom? Well, religious freedom except I don’t like this religion. But then, there might be another government, and they won’t like Catholicism, or they won’t like Judaism, or they won’t like Christianity, then what?”