Sen. Orrin Hatch Backs 'Ground Zero Mosque'
'I'd be the first to stand up for their rights,' Utah Republican says
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 31, 2010 11:04 AM CDT

(Newser) – Sen. Orrin Hatch says that the Cordoba Initiative has every right to build a Muslim community center near Ground Zero, regardless of the public outcry against it. “If the Muslims own that property, that private property, and they want to build a mosque there, they should have the right to do so,” the Utah Senator told Fox 13, becoming the highest profile Republican to defend the planned mosque. "The only question is are they being insensitive to those who suffered the loss of loved ones? We know there are Muslims killed on 9/11 too and we know it’s a great religion."

But as for proximity, "There’s a question of whether it’s too close to the 9/11 area, but it's a few blocks away, it isn't right there." Continues Hatch, public outcry "should not make a difference if they decided to build it, and I’d be the first to stand up for their rights.” He added that he’d authored a number of religious freedom bills, including a 2000 law on religious land use and zoning.