July 30th, 2010
05:25 PM ET

Anti-Defamation League's opposition to ground zero mosque sparks debate

The Anti-Defamation League this week announced its opposition to a proposed mosque and community center at Ground Zero - a decision that is already provoking anger. On Friday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) asked the ADL to retract its Wednesday statement:

"It is shocking that a group claiming to seek 'justice and fair treatment for all' would side with those engaged in one of the most egregious Islamophobic smear campaigns in recent memory," said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. "We ask the ADL to reconsider and retract this ill-considered and divisive statement. With its shameful statement, the ADL is exploiting and fueling the rising level of anti-Islam sentiment in our society."

A proposal to build a mosque near the site of Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center's twin towers were destroyed by Islamist hijackers on September 11, 2001, has triggered debates for the past two months.

Critics said building a mosque near Ground Zero would insult the victims of 9/11.

Supporters, like CNN Belief Blog contributor Stephen Prothero, said accepting the mosque would demonstrate religious tolerance and send a message that the U.S. is not at war with Islam.

Here's Anti-Defamation League's rationale:

The controversy which has emerged regarding the building of an Islamic Center at this location is counterproductive to the healing process. Therefore, under these unique circumstances, we believe the City of New York would be better served if an alternative location could be found.

At the same time, the ADL condemned those who opposed the proposed mosque out of religious bigotry:

Proponents of the Islamic Center may have every right to build at this site, and may even have chosen the site to send a positive message about Islam. The bigotry some have expressed in attacking them is unfair, and wrong. But ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain – unnecessarily – and that is not right.

Plum Line blogger Greg Sargent criticized the decision:

That's just amazing. This is basically a concession that some of the opposition to the mosque is grounded in bigotry, and that those arguing that the mosque builders harbor ill intent are misguided. Yet ADL is opposing the construction of the mosque anyway, on the grounds that it will cause 9/11 victims unnecessary "pain...

On this one, you're either with the bigots or you're against them. And ADL has in effect sided with them.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Christianity • Ethics • Foreign policy • Interfaith issues • Islam • Uncategorized

soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. Ceci

    Hey CNN get some cojones. Leave this video up and stop deleting it.
    What are you afraid of? Let people decide for themselves.

    August 11, 2010 at 1:04 pm |
  2. Redhead

    Perhaps if the Muslim community was to call this building by a name other than that of the city in Spain that the Muslims conqured, it might not be so offensive.
    It's as though the Muslims are spitting in the face of America and telling us that they will conquer us too.

    August 5, 2010 at 7:26 pm |
  3. Bill

    I wrote the following letter directly to the ADL.

    Sir/madam, I live in Philadelphia and am Jewish. I have always respected the ADL and its good works in the past. I am deeply offended by the ADL's recent stance against the plans of the Cordoba Institute to build a Mosque in Lower Manhattan. Your organization's mission is supposed to be "to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike and to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens." To me, you have violated your core principle. I have lost all respect in the ADL and believe that you should strongly reconsider your position on this issue and practice what you preach.

    August 5, 2010 at 2:55 pm |

    All praises due to Allah , the Merciful , the Wise , the Omnipotent and the Powerful.
    I would like to say a few words about this long debate , first of all today Islam religion reached every in the world from east to west , north to south. From Fidji to Newzealand Masjids ( Mosques) are built with the permission of Almighty ALLAH.

    August 5, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
  5. Hussaein


    August 5, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
  6. A Khan

    I'm a Muslim and am fed up of people attacking Islam because a few, yes a few out of 1.5billion choose to use my religion for their extremist ideologies. I live in the UK and never thought America would become such an Islamophobic society. Just replace the words "Islam,Muslim,Mosque" with "Jews,Blacks,Synagogue,Church" in the sensationalist media headlines and maybe you'll get an idea. I believe Hitler was Christian right? Are all Bishops and Priests pedophiles? Oh by the way there is a church a stones throw from my grandfathers home in Lahore,Pakistan so please do your research before labelling us all as intolerant.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:50 pm |
    • Jenna

      I understand you are fed up and I cannot blame you there. I have Muslim friends that are both American and from other Islamic countries. I do think that perhaps a Mosque should be built further away. It does feel like the 'powers that be' are wanting to rub Americans (particularly New Yorkers) noses into what was a terrible attack and something that is still sensitive considering it is barely 9 years ago. Perhaps if they withdraw the plans, find another spot much further away, that would do much to appease Americans. It is respect, nothing more, nothing less. Would you not wish to receive the same treatment if extremist Christians had bombed an important landmark in Lahore (where many people died needlessly) and then decided to build a Church over/near it?

      August 4, 2010 at 1:56 pm |
  7. Charles Babb

    I dislike the ADL immensely but I really hate the inflammatory, extremist idea of a mosque within 100 miles of ground zero. Muslims could not have picked a worse way rub American noses into their dirty, arrogant, violent ideology. I support the ADL completely in this. If through the idiocy of the NYC commissioners it is started, I predict it will fall in short order in the same manner as the WTC. Good riddance to the worst piece of crap idea ever dreamed up by man. The muslims are deliberately stirring the pot. Let them all go sit atop a minaret and perish from the face of the earth in this manner.

    August 2, 2010 at 10:29 pm |
  8. ODIrony

    Here's an idea whereby the Muslims can show the world their true peace-loving aspirations. There was a Greek Orthodox Church that was destroyed in the 9/11 attacks. Why not let the Muslims contribute the funds that would have been expended in the Mosque/Cultural Center project to an Orthodox Christian Cathedral/Cultural Center? This would show the lie of those who slander Islam as anti-Christian.

    August 2, 2010 at 9:42 am |
  9. Maria

    History might help: Historically, the cult of islam based on tribal battles over land, camels, water, and even women in deserts of Saudi Arabia. Then, it developed an attitude of ‘revengeful mindset’ shaping the pattern of hate-wars to which the adjective holy added later. The frequency of those violent relations formed the basis of this ism obsessed by numbers vs. each individual life. Maybe one reason why their clerical books (including. Qoran) filled with the stories of heartless interactions among main leaders, awful betrayals, raping underage teens, brutalities (e.g. brother killing brother), negative thoughts abt others, ending with a superstitious promise. Well, the center for the start of all these? mosques.Mosque's not NOT a community center; nor a house of meditation & peace. This more seems as an attack rather than anything else.

    August 1, 2010 at 1:12 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Maria, you know you just describe Judaism and Christianity as well. The same labels lay at the feet of all three, and why shouldn't it, they all started from the same group of people, it's a large highly dysfunctional family.

      August 2, 2010 at 2:44 pm |
    • Jer

      To John Quest –

      It is a misconception (a term that Islam must use a lot) to say that Islam and Christianity are of the same family. Christianity starts with Christ; hence "Christ'ianity. The Islamic story unfolds 500+ years after Jesus Christ offered himself for the sin of the world. By the way, the earliest manuscripts remaining are dated 190 years after Mohammed’s death.

      Further, Islam claims that Ishmael, the son of Sarai's bondservant, is the heir of promise (Genesis 16). This is extremely conflicting with Judaism and Christianity especially (Romans 4:16-25 & Galatians 4:21-31).

      Now, why is the Islamic community trying to convince others that their belief system and teaching is related to theirs?

      October 4, 2010 at 10:28 am |
  10. True Blue waver

    The enemy is among us and we just allow them to do whatever in the name of freedom. STOP letting these assholes into the country for a start.They come piling in and then want to kill us. Religion is the root of all evil not money!!!!!!! The muslims are a hateful bunch and should be dealt with as other hatemongers have been in the past Hitler had the right idea he just chose the wrong sect.

    August 1, 2010 at 12:41 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Which Sect should he have chosen, the one you disagree with?

      August 2, 2010 at 2:47 pm |
  11. Reality

    A better view:

    Google "Muslims bible burning" to get all said references about Muslims burning the bible but note that once the "bowers" of Islam see how they have been conned by their imams and ayatollahs for the last 1400 years, they too will burn their copies of the koran i.e. The angel Gabriel never existed so there is no way that the warmongering, womanizing, and hallucinating Mohammed got any koranic passages from some god. Tis the great angelic con game. Joe Smith was the latest to pull it off with his "angelic" Moroni. The significant stupidity and gullibility of it all!!!!!

    August 1, 2010 at 12:03 am |
  12. Paul Kearney

    How can we as Americans be expected to show so much understanding to islam, and continue to have our feelings and culture stomped upon? How is it unreasonable for us as a country to say no! No, we will not bow to this absured request! Could you imagine a nazi party office opening just down the road from the holocaust memorial? Or could you imagine a kkk rally headquarters being opened down the road from an MLK memorial? This is a blatant attempt to make ground zero a holy spot, and do not be decieved by any other statement! Where are the muslims protesting these terrorist attacks? Nowhere, they simply celebrate them and we are expected to be quite and let them bask in the deaths of Americans? We must not except this!

    July 31, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
    • Austin

      STFU Paul!!!

      The Muslims aren't stomping on American culture, you Christians did centuries ago when the racial extermination and forceful conversions of the real Americans began.

      Don't be calling yourself a real American, as only people who have Native blood are eligible to be called such. We are all immigrants , so if you want to complain , how about you shun Christianity and adopt local Native American beliefs or go home to Europe ?

      Why shouldn't we support the building of this? We should be vouchibg for tolerance and acceptance of other people and their beliefs. What you are saying is that they should surrender their beliefs and convert?

      We need to stop ripping open the 9/11 family's wounds by the adverse disgusting displays of a perverted holiday dedicated to torturing the victims. Let them go in peace. This would be the best

      Comparing Muslims to the KKK isn't making your case legit. In fact it makes you look even more bigoted. Muslims were protesting the attacks as much as anyone else so leave them alone already.

      The ADA are a bunch of Islamophobic bastards that should be deported to Israel with every other bigot in this damn nation like you. The founding fathers would be ashamed of you people . They wanted a nation for everybody not just White Christians . Get over yourself!

      August 1, 2010 at 4:21 am |
    • Reba

      many times brfeoe; the treatment of Jews in a society is a marker of the society in general. When things go sour for Jews it does not portend well for the rest. So while this Delta deal is a small story on paper its another check on a recently expanding list of acceptable slights against the rights of a segment of our citizenry. denroy: Of course it's a story. Delte agrees to the "NO Jews allowed" sign being posted in it's front window. How is that not a story? Shouldn't these stories be front page headlines? The media(lame-stream version) and Democrats(lame-brain version) are always talking up those progressive moderate Islamist while hiding the facts. Let the facts make headlines for a change. DonnaDiorio: You are right, sir, this is NOT a non-story and good on you for not going quietly.Just like Shariah-compliant banking products that are creeping into the U.S., we should not tolerate Islamic discrimination standards to be accepted in our American businesses. Where is the outrage over discrimination? Does not apply to Islamist discrimination?

      March 1, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
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About this blog

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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.