Kirk, Alexi Weigh In On Ground Zero Mosque

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Aug 17, 2010 7:00PM

File this one under: "hot topics that have nothing to do with the U.S. Senate race in Illinois." Yet that didn't keep either Dem candidate Alexi Giannoulias or GOP candidate Mark Kirk from weighing in on the controversy over the proposed community center and mosque blocks from Ground Zero in New York City that would share the same "hallowed ground" as a strip club, an OTB, and a Vitamin Shoppe. According to an Associated Press report, Alexi has come out in support of the mosque: "He says while he sympathizes with those who lost loved ones, Americans must stand up for freedom of religion even when it's difficult." It maintains the same line of support President Obama has expressed for the community center/mosque.

Meanwhile, GOP candidate Mark Kirk issued the following statement through spokesperson Kirsten Kukowski [via Capitol Fax]:

“While we protect freedom of religion, Congressman Kirk agrees with the Anti- Defamation League that sitting this mosque near ground zero causes undue pain to families of the 9/11 victims. There are legitimate calls for more transparency on the source of the estimated $100 million Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf will raise from here and abroad to build the mosque. In the end, Rauf should accept New York Governor Patterson’s offer of a convenient but less controversial site.”

It's been rare for candidates to open up that much about the controversy, let alone opposing candidates. Now that they've predictably split along party lines on this topic, here's hoping they'll get back around to debating more locally prescient issues like education, immigration, and transportation.