US President Barack Obama has been criticised for supporting the building of a mosque near the site of the September 11 attacks in New York.
Mr Obama told Muslims at a Ramadan dinner hosted by the White House that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in the country.
He says he supports the right of Muslims to build a cultural centre near Ground Zero but would not comment on the wisdom of such a move.
The US Senate's senior Democrat, Harry Reid, has broken ranks with the president saying the project should be built elsewhere.
Republicans say Mr Obama is out of step with America on the project. Senator John Cornyn said it would be unwise to build a mosque at the site where 3,000 Americans lost their lives as a result of a terrorist attack.
The $100 million project's backers said they would press ahead with their plans.