By Michael Ventura
DNAinfo Senior Editor
MANHATTAN — A Tea Party leader who said on Wednesday in a blog rant against the proposed World Trade Center mosque that Muslims worshipped a "monkey god" has apologized — to Hindus.
Mark Williams, a conservative radio host, self-proclaimed "founding Tea Party Patriot" and chairman of the Tea Party Express, wrote on his blog that the 13-story mosque slated for the former Burlington Coat Factory building near Ground Zero was a monument "for the worship of the terrorists' monkey-god."
The original post is password-protected. Excerpts were published on the Huffington Post.
Later Wednesday, Williams apologized in another blog post.
"In the course of the article I described the 'god' worshiped by terrorists as 'a monkey god'. I was wrong and that was offensive," Williams wrote. "I owe an apology to millions of Hindus who worship Lord Hanuman, an actual Monkey God."
He then describes Hanuman as a destroyer of evil and a symbol of perseverance, strength and devotion.
"So, again, to my Hindu friends I offer my sincerest apologies for my horrible lapse and my insensitivity," he wrote. "It was unintentional, inexplicably ignorant and I am ashamed at my offense toward you."
He did not apologize to Muslims in the post. But his earlier post about the downtown mosque provides a clue about his thoughts on Islam.
"It is a project of American Society for Muslim Advancement and the Cordoba Initiative, essentially the same group of apologists (but under 2 different names) for terrorists and the animals who use it as a terrorist ideology," he wrote. "They cloak their evil with new age gibberish that suggests Islam is just misunderstood."
The statements elicited strong reaction from Islamic groups.
"It would be shocking if such ignorant comments failed to elicit a strong response not only from Tea Party leaders, but from other parties throughout the political spectrum," Council on American-Islamic Relations National Legislative Director Corey Saylor said in a press release.
Daisy Khan, executive director of the Cordoba Initiative, said the center would be a positive addition to downtown.
“We have a vision that is opposite the vision of the extremists,” Khan told DNAinfo. “We want to be a driving force for the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan.”