Musician John Legend Decries 'Xenophobia, Anti-Immigrant Positions' of Politicians

By Nicholas Ballasy | August 20, 2010 | 12:24 PM EDT

( - Grammy award-winning musician John Legend, who is featured on the cover of Capitol File Magazine’s summer issue, told that he does not “care” about polls showing that the majority of Americans do not want a mosque built at ground zero, saying “You can’t let the majority have tyranny to the point where minorities are oppressed.”  Legend also said that he was disappointed with what he called the "Xenophobia, anti-immigrant positions" that he has seen espoused by American politicians recently.

"I am really disappointed with the level of Xenophobia, anti-immigrant positions that I’ve seen a lot of politicians giving voice to lately," Legend told "It’s shameful. Really shameful."

Legend spoke out about the ground zero cultural center and mosque on his twitter account Tuesday saying, “(you) can understand why they didn’t think building near ground zero would be offensive, they are part of a very different group.” asked Legend what he meant by those comments and if he supports the mosque.

“I support their right to build a mosque and I am opposed to anybody that would say that they should feel like they’re not allowed to build it two blocks from ground zero,” he said at the Capitol File magazine cover party Wednesday night in Washington.

“First of all, they’re not part of the same group as Al-Qaeda. They’re not affiliated with them in any way.  They’re in fact, enemies of Al-Qaeda in some regards and for us to group all Muslims together and say because Americans are sensitive about that space, about that event which was tragic and I lived in New York when it happened, I was there, for us to say because we’re sensitive about that that all Muslims can’t build in that area is just wrong.”

The plan to build the mosque at ground zero is sponsored by the Cordoba Initiative, which says it “brings together leaders across the Muslim-West divide to speak out for innovative, proactive, and positive solutions to challenges we share.”  The project’s promoter is Iman Feisal Abdul Rauf, an orthodox Muslim and Sufi.

A recent TIME magazine poll shows that the majority of Americans do not support the mosque at ground zero. 

Legend, who performed at the Democratic National Convention, an inauguration concert for President Obama and the White House for Black History Month, said he does not “care about polls.”

“I don’t care about polls. I don’t care about polls. If you were to poll people about lunch counters in 1960, they would have said we weren’t allowed to sit there, they would have said, a lot of things,” said Legend.

“You can’t let the majority have tyranny to the point where minorities are oppressed and in this county. The Constitution, the Bill of Rights gives every religious group the right to practice freely as long as they’re not hurting somebody else and I believe that these Muslims in downtown New York have a right to build a community center wherever they want to as long as they’re within the zoning laws.”

After three albums of original material that earned him a total of six Grammy awards, Legend is set to release a new album on September 21 with the hip-hop band “The Roots” called “Wake Up,” which contains cover versions of songs related to social change. asked Legend if the election of President Obama inspired the new album.

“Yeah, we were inspired actually during the campaign to start on it and we didn’t have time to finish it at that point because I was just finishing my own “Evolver” album and starting the tour for that so it’s something we kind of put on the backburner for a little while,” he said.

“But when you look at what we’re singing about and what’s talked about in the songs, a lot of those topics are even more relevant than ever now as we’re in the depth of a, you know, long recession and a deep recession and a lot of the frustration that people are feeling, I feel like this music kind of helps to give voice to that and hopefully it will inspire some people as well.”