Columnist and TV host Fareed Zakaria has returned a First Amendment award to the Anti-Defamation League in protest of the organization's opposition to a proposed mosque near Ground Zero, the site of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
Zakaria, a Washington Post columnist and CNN host, has been the editor of Newsweek International, a journal with a circulation of 24 million, for almost a decade. He published a blog on Friday publicly announcing that he had returned the ADL's Hubert H. Humphrey Freedoms Prize.
"I was thrilled to get the award from an organization that I had long admired. But I cannot in good conscience keep it anymore. I have returned both the handsome plaque and the $10,000 honorarium that came with it. I urge the ADL to reverse its decision. Admitting an error is a small price to pay to regain a reputation."
The Anti-Defamation League said in a statement Friday that it was saddened and stunned by Zakaria's decision to return the prize they awarded him in 2005. ADL National Director Abe Foxman said he hoped that Mr. Zakaria will come to see that ADL acted appropriately and would reclaim the award bestowed upon him.
The ADL, a U.S. Jewish civil rights group, has said that the location of the planned mosque is counterproductive to the healing process of the families of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack.