The No. 2 Democrat in the Senate says those against the proposed mosque are trying to divide America with fear and hate.
Durbin says he's had his differences with former President George W. Bush. But Durbin says Bush showed leadership after Sept. 11, 2001, by making it clear that the war was against terrorists who had perverted the teachings of Islam, not with Muslims.
Durbin says the most fundamental American value is the freedom to practice religion.
He says the nation needs to defend those who attack patriotic and peace-loving Muslim Americans.
Durbin's comments came Sunday, the same day hundreds of people on both sides of a controversy rallied near the proposed site.