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August 25th, 2010
11:07 AM ET

New York's Bloomberg: We are all Muslims

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

In a smart commentary on the shrill Republican silence in the face of the "Obama is a Muslim" nonsense, Slate’s John Dickerson wrote that "with so much traffic on the low road in American politics, you'd imagine a politician or two might take the high road simply to beat the congestion."

Well, New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg continues to take the road less traveled.

We are now in the Islamic holy month of fasting called Ramadan, and Bloomberg hosted last night an annual iftar, or fast-breaking dinner, at Gracie Mansion.

In his his remarks, Bloomberg, who has previously supported the Park51 project in the name of both property rights and religious freedom, once again spoke truth to fear and hatred. He admitted that “there are people of good will on both sides of the debate." He acknowledged that the World Trade Center site is "hallowed ground." And he observed that “there are people of every faith–including, perhaps, some in this room–who are hoping that a compromise will end the debate.”

“But it won’t,” he said.

The community center can and must be built at the Park51 site, he said. Anything less would “compromise our commitment to fighting terror with freedom."

During his remarks, Bloomberg welcomed Talat Hamdani, whose son, Salman Hamdani, a paramedic and Ne York City Police Department cadet, died on 9/11. He also welcomed Sakibeh and Asaad Mustafa, whose children, he said, “have served our country overseas.”

Bloomberg brought home the point that the propaganda war now being waged on Islam in America threatens to undercut our counterinsurgency battle for "hearts and minds" in Iraq and Afghanistan.  “If we do not practice here at home what we preach abroad–if we do not lead by example–we undermine our soldiers,” he said. “We undermine our foreign policy objectives. And we undermine our national security."

Bloomberg ended his talk by quoting some words from the embattled Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf:

At an interfaith memorial service for the martyred journalist Daniel Pearl, Imam Rauf said, ‘If to be a Jew means to say with all one's heart, mind, and soul: Shma` Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu Adonai Ehad; Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One, not only today I am a Jew, I have always been one. If to be a Christian is to love the Lord our God with all of my heart, mind and soul, and to love for my fellow human being what I love for myself, then not only am I a Christian, but I have always been one.'

“In that spirit," Bloomberg concluded, in words that echoed John F. Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech, "let me declare that we in New York are Jews and Christians and Muslims, and we always have been. And above all of that, we are Americans, each with an equal right to worship and pray where we choose. There is nowhere in the five boroughs that is off limits to any religion."

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Church and state • Culture wars • Islam • Muslim • New York • Ramadan • Religious liberty

soundoff (1,202 Responses)
  1. Sue

    Mr. Bloomberg: I am NOT a muslim and will never ever want to be one. My friends think the same.

    August 28, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
  2. Gaby Pollak

    It is like saying "we are all Germans now" when Hitler was in power.

    August 28, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Mike

      Well said. Especially considering both islam and fascsim are anti-semitic and against human rights.

      August 28, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
  3. Deede

    I am so sick and tired of being politically correct. They are burning American flags in Afghanistan. Go ahead and burn a Curran. I am so tired of seeing our government walking on eggshells because they don't have the balls to say no. I lost a sister in 9/11 and have not gotten over it. I miss her dearly. She was my best friend. What a big slap in the face to have a mosque at or anywhere near ground zero. Come on Mr. Mayor. Get your head out of your a.. Stand up for all who have lost loved ones because of the Muslim radical so called religion.

    September 10, 2010 at 4:31 pm |
    • Abdii

      hi deede
      what I am trying to say is that everything happens because Allah/God has destined has so and nothing can happen without his will and I would like to say sorry that you lost your sister And there is also one thing i would like to advise you, please try to understand what ISLAM is and you will get the answers for all the confusions
      Thank You

      February 9, 2011 at 3:30 am |
    • Louise

      Abdii, we all know what islam is. There's not much to understand there. Islam is a backward hateful cult which is against equal rights for women and gays, for the death sentence for apostates and gays, against freedom of speech and religion etc. All I have to do is listen to what your imams preach at the local mosque, of which more than 60% in the US are islamistic, encouraging corporal punishment for adultery and alcohol consumption, calling all non-muslims in their own country here in the US and elsewhere immoral pigs.
      Just taking a look at the koran and the hadiths shows what a murdering, warmongering, slave trading, raping, child abusing lowlife your so called "prophet" was. So please cut the islam propaganda BS. Your cult makes me nauseous. It's time to put an end to it. We are tired of your hate and intolerance which you are trying to justify with your "religion".

      August 28, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
  4. Claire C.

    It's good to read this in context. Islam isn't going away, and, like Christianity, it has the potential to evolve into something more mature and positive. I suspect people in the dark and middle ages wished it would just go away. It really is time to recognize that the real problem is making sure we avoid theocracy, and the way to do that is to end religion-government entanglement, such as faith-based initiatives and school vouchers or grants. We really do need a solid wall between church and state.

    September 9, 2010 at 12:40 am |
  5. john

    Your quoting those stupid words that JFK stated which really translates to "I am a jelly doughnut". Yes if were trying to say "person from Berlin", the correct phrase wuld have been "ich bin berliner" without the article "ein". And just like Obama, the now unpopular mayor of NYC is a real jelly doughnut for being a mulsim lover.

    September 7, 2010 at 2:32 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.