From the TPM Story:
President Obama concluded his press conference today with a statement on the importance of protecting the rights of American Muslims. "We don't differentiate between them and us," he said. "It's just us. And that is a principle that I think is going to be very important for us to sustain."
Obama was asked about the controversial Park51 Islamic center, and said: "I think I've been pretty clear on my position here. And that is: This country stands for the proposition that all men and women are created equal, that they have certain inalienable rights, and one of those inalienable rights is to practice their religion freely."
"What that means," he continued, "is that if you could build a church on a site, you could build a synagogue on a site, if you could build a Hindu temple on a site, then you should be able to build a mosque on the site."
"We've got millions of Muslim Americans, our fellow citizens in this country," Obama said. "They're going to school with our kids. They're our neighbors. They're our friends. They're our coworkers. And when we start acting as if their religion is somehow offensive, what are we saying to them?"
He continued that there are also Muslims fighting in Afghanistan: "They're out there putting their lives on the line for us, and we've got to make sure that we are crystal clear for our sakes and their sakes -- they are Americans, and we honor their service."