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August 7th, 2010
06:23 PM ET

CNN host returns award from Jewish group over Islamic center stance

Fareed Zakaria, the CNN host and Newsweek columnist, has returned a prestigious prize to the Anti-Defamation League, another rebuke for the esteemed civil rights group's opposition to an Islamic center near ground zero.

Zakaria, who received the ADL's Hubert Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize five years ago, gave back the honor to ADL for publicly siding "with those urging the relocation" of the center, which would be located near the site of the September 11, 2001, attacks.

"I cannot in good conscience hold onto the award or the honorarium that came with it and am returning both," he said.

Watch Zakaria explain his decision

Read the full story

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Houses of worship • Islam • Judaism • Mosque • TV

soundoff (585 Responses)
  1. Stan

    I am having a problem understanding what Zakaria's beef is over the ADA's statement about this proposed Muslim community center. Did anyone in this thread take the time to read the statement? I support the right to build this community center in its currently proposed location near Ground Zero. If that's where it is going to be built, so be it. That is what freedom is all about. The ADA's statement on this subject doesn't oppose that right. I respect Zakaria, but I think he is wrong to return the award. Note that I am not an unconditional fan of Israel. The ADA's statement is online at http://www.adl.org/PresRele/CvlRt_32/5820_32.htm and the last paragraph is the most pertinent.

    August 8, 2010 at 7:52 am |
  2. scott anderson

    ONLY WHEN WE CAN BUILD A SYNAGOGUE IN RIYADH

    August 8, 2010 at 7:52 am |
  3. jeannie

    There is alot of places that this mosque could be without hurting anyone and tha's where it should go. It does NOT belong anywhere near a place that changed our country forever. Zakaria just did that for publicity. In case you don't know CNN is like rock bottom in ratings and Zakakria is killing them. Boomberg is absolutely a joke. The people who think he should run for President probably didn't know he had to buy the position he has now.

    August 8, 2010 at 7:40 am |
  4. JIM

    How would folks feel about the US building a church on the site of the epicenter of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb? It's all about tolerance right? I am baffled by the claim that America is seen as not "tolerant" by not building a mosque near the place where 3000 Americans were murder by a group of Muslims? How about the thousands of mosques that exist in the US? The word tolerance has no place in this discussion. Here's a word for you: desecration. I think those that want a mosque near ground zero are desecrating the memory of those murdered on 9/11. How about some "tolerance" for their memories? Go ahead and build a mosque but just not on this particular part of what should be hallowed ground.

    August 8, 2010 at 7:27 am |
  5. Rex Magnus

    Let's see here, are we supposed to support the zionist run ADL, or the Islamofascist Mr. Zakaria..? Considering both are anti-American and couldn't give a toss about Americans who aren't like them I think I'll just sit back and enjoy the show. These kinds of groups and individuals hide behind their politically correct talk and try to pretend to be what they are not only to serve their narrow personal political agendas. The truth is that they only care about their own. It's time America woke up!

    August 8, 2010 at 6:50 am |
  6. Salem

    I think this whole war on religions be it Muslims against Christians and Jews or vice versa is sheer nonsense and it is a front for those with hidden agendas.

    For years and years we have become victims of such brain washing talk and it is time people of all religions stood up against bigotry from all sides. The ADL should not have taken sides and bravo to FZ for standing up to what he believes to be right !

    August 8, 2010 at 6:49 am |
  7. FrankLW

    Actually, the “religious leader” of the center, the Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, rather than “building bridges”, seems to be a fundamentalist Muslim interested in burning them. After 9/11 he said “United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened” (providing an indefensible rationale for the terror and abetting yet more), and he refuses to condemn the mass murdering Hamas terror organization that targets civilians and celebrates their murder (which means he IS condemning their victims).

    Also – regardless of claims of “building bridges” by the center’s founders, fundamentalist Muslims can only read such a center as being yet another victory monument, and this will serve to embolden wannabe terrorists – aside from providing them food and shelter when they make their celebratory pilgrimages to Ground Zero and plot their next atrocities.

    If Mr. Zakaria is so upset about the ADL’s recommending distancing the center from Ground Zero, it is quite apparent that his sympathies lie with fundamentalist Islam and he never deserved such an award in the first place. So, yes, the return of the award IS perhaps a correct move and rights a wrong.

    August 8, 2010 at 6:37 am |
    • FrankLW

      That was intended as a reply to "Kristen".

      August 8, 2010 at 6:40 am |
  8. MassiveMarbles

    Here's the problem, 911 was not caused by Muslims – radical or otherwise. Muslims have been made the scapegoat and target of bigotry by those truly responsible for 911. Of course, now that they are looked upon as radical and now that a blame has been placed upon them by a wicked silent force, they are angry, who wouldn't be? Start at Patriotsaints Dot Com. And then to Youtube, do your research! If YOU DARE to Learn the TRUTH about 911 ! I'm a former US MARINE, and I found the facts I needed, so should every one else!

    August 8, 2010 at 6:31 am |
    • MassiveMarbles

      Furthermore, I am truly angered by the loss of lives, limb and sanity of all of my fellow brave US soldiers because of an agenda by corrupt individuals responsible for this unpatriotic act of war against the people of the United States and the rest of the World! The Truth Is Out There!!!!

      August 8, 2010 at 6:37 am |
    • MassiveMarbles

      Anyone with a brain and the will to learn the truth WILL know if you first think about the lies told about the WMDs, then think about why we invaded Iraq – they WERE NOT responsible for 911...and if you get this far, go further into what's being said..prisonplanet.com/911.html#eve .. The Truth Is Out There....

      August 8, 2010 at 6:52 am |
  9. Joe

    He can shove the award up his A $ $! This Mosque is a stupid idea and slap in the face of all society.

    August 8, 2010 at 6:30 am |
  10. FrankLW

    Perhaps I should rephrase that...

    When the Muslims conquered Cordoba in the 7th century they built a large mosque on the site of a Christian cathedral they had demolished. Islam did this in Mecca and Medina and built the Dome of the Rock and its Al Aqsa mosque precisely on the site of the destroyed holy temple of the Jews in Jerusalem.
    The intent seems to be to erect yet another Muslim victory monument as close as possible, and within view of, the ashes of the WTC.

    This is evidenced by the “religious leader” of the initiative, the Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who, rather than “building bridges”, seems to be a fundamentalist Muslim interested in burning them. After 9/11 he said “United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened” and he refuses to condemn the mass murdering Hamas terror organization that targets civilians and celebrates their murder (which means he IS condemning their victims).

    Also – regardless of claims of “building bridges” by the center’s founders – fundamentalist Muslims can only read such a center as being a such a victory monument – and this will serve to embolden wannabe terrorists – aside from providing them food and shelter when they make their celebratory pilgrimages to Ground Zero and plot their next atrocities.

    If Mr. Zakaria is so upset about the ADL’s recommending distancing the center from Ground Zero, it is quite apparent that his sympathies lie with fundamentalist Islam and he never deserved such an award in the first place. So, yes, the return of the award IS perhaps a correct move and rights a wrong.

    August 8, 2010 at 6:27 am |
  11. Claude

    As an American Citizen, I do not care what Fareed Zakaria did. Let the facts speak for themselves. Look at the attacks on America and its citizens. What was the common factor in the background of those criminals? Sorry, I do not feel brotherly love for the most closely associated group of people to those crimes. And no, I would not allow the proposed building. As an American, that is my privilage to say so though in today's world to say so is not politically correct. However, in today's world, I cannot help but be concerned by all politicians and their political agenda.

    August 8, 2010 at 6:17 am |
  12. FrankLW

    Has Mr. Zakaria found it equally, if not more, important to censure the Muslim Centers founders for their fundamentalist Muslim approach that has directly led to this friction?!

    After 9/11. the Imam of this Islamic center, Feisal Abdul Rauf, said “United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened”. In other words he is providing an understanding and rationale, if not a justification, for the mass murder at the WTC. It’s like he is saying “you killed my brother so I slaughtered your family”. America is a democracy with a transparent court system, open lobbying and public demonstrations, and there is such a thing as international courts if one has grievances with US policy.
    There can be NO rationale for such murder and any discussion of US policy CANNOT happen as the result of such barbarism, and it is detestable to raise criticism of US policy in this context – and if one does, he is abetting more such heinous acts.
    It is only relevant in the context of law enforcement to understand the psyche of the terrorists.

    Even MORE offensive, however, is the fact that Rauf refuses to condemn the mass murdering Hamas terror organization that targets civilians and celebrates their murder – which means he IS condemning their victims.

    The ADL is only a secondary player here so a move like this dramatic returning of an award would be far more effectively addressed to those behind the Muslim center initiative.

    August 8, 2010 at 6:02 am |
  13. Altee11

    It should concern everyone around the world that nations such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan do not allow other religions to practice openly or have large facilities visible to all. The intolerance practiced in those nations makes it very challenging for other belief systems to exist in those nations; it also makes it hard to send aid workers safely to those countries. America works hard to tolerate all, but America must be careful that its tolerance does not allow the intolerant to conquer it. There is nothing wrong with demanding appropriate adherence to American beliefs and values.

    August 8, 2010 at 4:52 am |
  14. Altee11

    If multiple top leaders of the Islamic faith here and worldwide regularly and loudly countered every statement and publication issued by bin Laden and his ilk, the comfort level with Islam would rise. The world cannot afford intolerant forms of Islam spreading. When hateful forms of Islam arrive in America, they must be tracked as hate groups are tracked, then exposed and battled strongly. Islam is complex to understand because it appears to be both a religion and an ideology. Time will tell where the Cordoba Initiative stands; the organization still has to prove itself eternally as good for all and a tireless supporter of our nation's constitution, including unquestioned freedom of speech and maintaining the separation of church (mosque) and state.

    August 8, 2010 at 4:18 am |
  15. Brenda T

    Fareed is TWO FACED anyway. Remember he was all FOR and SUPPORTIVE of the Iraq war, until we started taking casualties then he pretended he was against it. This guy is AN OPPORTUNIST and has no courage. A courageous man wouldn't change his mind based on public opinion.

    August 8, 2010 at 4:08 am |
  16. Truculentturtle

    Putting up a mosque disguised as a cultural centre near Ground zero, is a sign of triumph for Islam. They did it all over Europe and the middle East throughout history... Its called the Cordoba house after Cordoba spain... Google it and learn something, instead of just being myopic and only see what they want you to see... Exercise some intellectual initiative, educate yourselves about what Islam is and what it isn't and what sharia is, since the aim of Islam is two steps, Dar el harb... which means the house of war which is imposed on us at this time by Islam and then finally when we are all conquered and under the heel of Islam, they can proclaim, Dar el Salam, which means literally Peace... its all there in the Qu'ran, you just have to READ IT and then express an educated opinion.

    August 8, 2010 at 3:19 am |
  17. Jake

    People that use the words 'moron' and 'retarded' to advance an argument exhibit traits of being both emotionally and intellectually challenged.

    August 8, 2010 at 3:17 am |
  18. WhyThereWhyNow

    Thanks for retuning the award Zak, now let us move along to examine the real issue. Why is a 13 story mosque required in that particular location exactly?
    Why not put a disco near the Tomb of the Unknown soldier? There are plenty of people who live to boogie.
    WHY? It's called respect.
    Islam = Submit, I will submit to God, just not his prophet Mohamed.
    The damn building was nominated as a historic landmark until this became political, now it's no issue to tear it down and build a minaret. It will be a magnet for those who worship and admire the destruction that occurred just a short distance away.
    And very convenient prayer call while visiting. Perhaps it can the wayward home for Jihadis and FOX can give them a reality program. It's a shame the Koran has no tolerance for other religions, and our political leaders are all willing and ready to SUBMIT!.

    August 8, 2010 at 2:22 am |
  19. Just Me

    I understand his anger but seriously folks think about it. People are still hurt from 9/11 and it's going to take a VERY LONG TIME for them to get over it. Is it dumb yes but can you really blame them? No you can't because you weren't there and you didn't see the carnage. I applauded him for doing what he thinks is right and he is right he should return the award to a hypocritical bunch of morons. But the reality is that they should have realized that putting the facility a few blocks from the cite was a dumb decision to begin with. If you didn't think that this would draw fire from the American people then you just as short cited as the people that don't want you there.

    August 8, 2010 at 2:17 am |
  20. Benny

    With dancing Mossad agents watching the planes hit the towers you could make the same argument not to have synagogues near the sit either. Israel clearly knew what was about to happen.

    August 8, 2010 at 2:08 am |
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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.