Miss USA Rima Fakih, the first Muslim American to win the honor, has told Inside Edition that she is against locating the proposed Muslim Cultural Center and mosque two blocks from the “Ground Zero.” The Ground Zero site is where the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed by a terrorist attack on September 11, 2010.
Fakih believes that the “tragedy”of 9/11 trumps religion. She also believes that building a mosque so close to Ground Zero is insensitive to the families of 9/11 victims and that the planners of the project should take their feelings into consideration.
Fakhi is an observant Muslim. In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, she said she’s currently fasting from sunrise to sunset as part of the religious obligation of Ramadan.
Born in Lebanon but raised in Michigan, Rima Fakih was in Las Vegas, Nevada preparing for the Miss Universe pageant. She told Inside Edition that the proposed mosque “shouldn’t be so close to the World Trade Center. We should be more concerned with the tragedy than religion.”
Fakih supports President Barack Obama’s stated position on the rights of the Muslims who want to build the cultural center and mosque as a matter of religious freedom.
“I totally agree with President Obama with the statement on Constitutional rights of freedom of religion,” she said. She also agrees with Obama’s position that it shouldn’t be located so near the 9/11 site, which Obama called “Hallowed Ground.”
At a White House dinner commemorating the start of Ramadan, Obama said, “As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community centre on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.”
In response to criticism from Republicans and even from moderate Democrats (Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, facing a tough reelection fight against a hard right paleo-conservative, came out against placing the mosque so close to Ground Zero), Obama soon gutted the intent of his original statement.
“I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there.I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding.”
Tribute to Obama
According to the New York Daily News, Rima Fakih plans to wear a gold and silver eagle costume at the Miss USA pageant that she intends as a tribute to President Obama.
In a video promoting the pageant, Fakih addressed the President, declaring “The symbolism of this costume is a tribute to your work to bring peace to the world.”
The Miss Universe pageant will be held on Monday, August 23rd. If Fakih wins the title, she will be the first Muslim Miss Universe.
Inside Edition, Miss USA Weighs in on Mosque Controversy
New York Daily News, Miss USA Rima Fakih, first Muslim winner, speaks out against mosque near Ground Zero
The Telegraph (London), Barack Obama backtracks over Ground Zero mosque support