|President Barack Obama|
President Obama on Friday forcefully joined the national debate over construction of an Islamic complex near New York's Ground Zero, telling guests at a White House dinner marking the holy month of Ramadan that opposing the project is at odds with American values.
"Let me be clear: as a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country," Obama said, according to prepared remarks, at a White House iftar, the traditional breaking of the daily Ramadan fast.
"That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances," he continued. "This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable."
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