August 7th, 2010
03:19 PM ET

Fareed Zakaria to return Anti-Defamation League award over ground zero mosque

Here's a statement the Anti-Defamation League released yesterday in response to Zakaria's announcement:


New York, NY, August 6, 2010 … In response to Fareed Zakaria returning an award that was presented to him in 2005, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said it was “saddened, stunned and somewhat speechless” by his decision.

Zakaria, the host of Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN and a Newsweek columnist, was presented the League’s Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize in 2005 for his journalism and championing the values of the First Amendment. In a letter received today, Mr. Zakaria indicated that while he was “delighted” to receive the award then, he could not “in good conscience hold onto the award” after learning of the League’s decision to urge the relocation of the planned Islamic Center near Ground Zero.

"I am not only saddened but stunned and somewhat speechless by your decision to return the ADL Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize you accepted in 2005,” Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, wrote in a letter responding to Mr. Zakaria.

As someone I greatly respect for engaging in discussion and dialogue with an open mind, I would have expected you to reach out to me before coming to judgment,” Mr. Foxman added.

Foxman said he hoped that Mr. Zakaria “will come to see that ADL acted appropriately” and would reclaim the award bestowed upon him.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world’s leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Judaism • Muslim • Religious liberty

soundoff (215 Responses)
  1. Julia

    Fareed, thank you for your courage and honesty. Your actions make this world a better place for all of us.
    By the way, I am not Muslim – I am Christian and half-Jewish. The argument that only a Muslim person would support Fareed and the building of the mosque, the argument some people are suggesting here, is insulting. An honorable person stands by truth and fairness even when it is not in their self-interest.

    August 8, 2010 at 1:24 pm |
  2. Wild Bill

    Fareed...you are naive...It is as disrespectful as placing a pork processing plant to the left and a kosher deli to the right of a mosque. This is about 9/11 and a slap in the face to all Americans. That area is sacred ground where American blood was spilled. See if Islam is a religion of peace should 3000 gallons of pig blood be spilled on any Mosque sight.

    August 8, 2010 at 1:09 pm |
  3. Paul

    ADL are dangerous zionists.

    August 8, 2010 at 12:40 pm |
  4. Altee11

    Fareed Zakaria has chosen to do what he thinks is best. I hope he behaves similarly with Muslim organizations that show the smallest amount of intolerance.

    August 8, 2010 at 11:37 am |
  5. Annoyed

    Have any of you actually read the ADL position? They support the perfect right of muslims to build a mosque anywhere they wish. They only pointed out that in this case building a mosque in that location is closer to burning bridges than building them, and that perhaps it would be a better idea to build it elsewhere. This, by the way, is perfectly true. How many people, even in cosmopolitan NYC, are going to look on this mosque as a positive link between Islam and the rest of the world? As a sign of muslims reaching out and engageing the non-muslim world in a positive way? Not many, with the ghosts of the twin towers looming over their shoulders.
    And that would be obvious to the builders of the mosque, if reaching out was what they truly intended.

    August 8, 2010 at 11:19 am |
  6. Martin

    With Fareed's views, as a Muslim, worshipping a Babylonian Moon God, he should have been made to return the award based on being a Moron. --And given up his position with CNN as well.

    August 8, 2010 at 11:19 am |
  7. Lexi Sgt

    This is a real test to our greatest American ideals... equality and freedom of religion. That's what makes our nation a shining star in the world.

    August 8, 2010 at 11:05 am |
  8. Patti

    This person said:
    Asif Raza

    Why don't you and your whole generation go back to where ever you came from. Masjid will be built on ground zero. And you people can yelp all you want. How quickly you forget your history. Well, America will be a country of Islam, already as you can see, Islam is on the rise in my country, america, and across the globe. embrace the truth,let the peace flow into your evil veins, cleanse yourself up, accept your true savior, Islam. Muslims never have any agenda, we are just too confident, and at peace, its little insecure folks like you, who have no clue what they believe in are coming up w/ all sorts of agendas, and talking away rubbish...I guess it makes you feel good.
    ust another dumb idiot.

    August 8, 2010 at 8:07 am

    accept your true savior, Islam....????
    That being said, if the real purpose is to have a place to worship, then as others here have said, let it be a place that honors ALL religons....yours likewise. The words you have used here seem anything but loving. If your true Savior is Islam, fine. But everyone here in AMERICA has FREE choice of what they belive and who they believe in.
    May Peace and Love be with you all! God Bless America!

    August 8, 2010 at 10:58 am |
  9. Bill_


    I've always respected you and your show is the only one I have watched on CNN. But this is a copout. There is simply no reason that Bloomberg could not have suggested in the beginning that the Mosque be built further away. Instead he waited for the announcement and then was a coward to support it.

    In addition, I was disappointed of your show today(Sunday) with the interviews with Rubin and O'Neal. First of all giving credit to Rubin and the Clintion economic policies for the economic success of the Clinton administration.. That success came out of a far overblown tech and Internet boom that busted just in time for the Bush Administration. The success of Clinton's term was due to the windfall of money that came out of the end of the Cold War. The huge government's capital gains taxes from the Tech and Internet revolution came out of an inevitable maturation of technology that began with the Apple and IBM personal computer revolution and the governments ADA/Internet technologies that began during and even before the Reagan Administration. Giving credit to one or the other Republican or Democrat administrations is purely capricious and the reason we have such poltical alienation today. Finally, O'Neal's appearance on the show gave him a chance to blame others for his own inadequacies.

    August 8, 2010 at 10:49 am |
  10. Ashaki

    At last, someone whose principles exceed his ego. I was so pleased to see the video of Mr. Zakaria's explanation of why he was returning the ADA's award. It took both integrity and courage to do this and I wish to congratulate Mr. Zakaria for taking this principled stand and explaining his reason so eloquently. As any person of conscience who has ever been critical of Israeli policy knows, Mr. Zakaria should be prepared to be labeled Anti-Semetic and CNN to be bombarded with demands for his immediate censure and/or dismissal. It is my sincere hope that both will stand their ground on the principles upon which this country is at least theoretically founded.

    August 8, 2010 at 10:42 am |
    • Americano



      Any time somebody gives an opinion contrary to JEWS or ISRAEL you slap them with ANTISEMITIC.

      Again more than DOZEN NATIONWIDE RABIES are supporting the mosque and the IMAM.

      I am won't be surprised that you AND THE OTHER BIGGOTS are FROM the mossad crawling around and spreading hate and fear but GUESS WHAT???


      August 8, 2010 at 11:29 pm |
  11. Harold R. LaMarr

    Fareed Zakaria is smart and elegant. He helps the city of Atlanta maintain a certin style. I'm happy about his position on the Moslem Center at the World Trade Center. Few people have as fond memories of WTC as I do, but freedom of religion is an issue too large to be decided by the people of lower Manhattan.

    August 8, 2010 at 10:38 am |
  12. Diane1976

    Good for Fareed Zakaria taking a stand against ignorance and bigotry. He's quite right when he suggests that just because a person is a victim of people who belong to some religion, nationality, or other such group, it does not mean such a person's feelings of hatred toward the entire group are justified, or that those feelings need to be catered to. How would it have ever been possible for us in North America to develop friendly relations with countries like Germany and Japan if we had to forever "show respect" for all the victims of those countries during WWII by shunning all their people and everything associated with them? The victims are much better honoured by trying to eradicate blind hatreds and ignorance that will only lead to more victims.

    August 8, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  13. Paul Delaup

    I actually once thought you broadcast was the highest quality ever on TV. Your guests are intelligent, well educated, interesting, enlightened, in 100% control of their emotions, etc. It wasn't until your foolish statement regarding your opposition to the A.D.L. that I have changed my mind.

    You have always recommended a book or two for your viewers at the end of your broadcast. The tables should turn and you should read books regarding how you think on Islam. I would suggest: The Complete Infidel's Guide to the Koran, The Post American Presidency, Stealth Jihad, and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam.

    I would then recommend reading daily internet news reports on terrorism: Jihad Watch and Front Page Magazine. Next, read articles on Islam / terrorism: Faithfreedom.org, Christian Action Network, News Real Blog, Anti-Jihad Resistance, answering-islam.org.

    I am also recommending that you watch movies regarding the danger of Islam / terrorism: Obsession–Radical Islam's War Against the West, and The Third Jihad–Radical Islam's Vision for America. After that, look at a website called Terrorism Awareness Project. You will see close to a dozen videos related to terrorism. Most will explain persecution, oppression, growth of jihad in the U.S., etc. Last, find a Koran that is in English--an uncensored one. You can hold an educated discussion on one of your next shows. Studying a text on the Arabic language would definitely be a benefit.

    Unless you take any actions to increase your awareness, I would definitely recommend returning your award to the Anti-Defamation League. You don't deserve it.

    August 8, 2010 at 9:41 am |
  14. kat91700

    So, I guess if a Christian commits a crime – like Oklahoma City, Waco, etc., we should make sure that no Christian churches are built anywhere near? I mean, we would hate for Christians to come from all over the world to stand in a church and celebrate what horrible crimes another Christian committed.

    Sounds stupid huh? When are people going to pull their heads out of their butts and realize that it was TERRORISTS that killed everyone on 9/11 and not Muslims. They were extremists, just like every religion – all over the world has.

    August 8, 2010 at 7:27 am |
    • Steve (Brussels)

      The Oklahoma bomber did not commit his crime in the name of Jesus. WTC bombing was committed in the name of Allah the Almighty, the Merciful. Since 9/11 there have been an additional 15,803 islamic terrorist attacks committed under the cry "Allah Ahkbar" (source http://www.thereligionofpeace.com). So where is the comparison?

      August 9, 2010 at 3:07 am |
    • Steve (Brussels)

      The Oklahoma bombing was not committed in the name of christianity! The 9/11 bombing and subsequent 15803 other islamic terrorist attacks were committed in the name of islam under the cry of Allah Ahkbar.

      August 9, 2010 at 3:37 am |
  15. 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 6:28 am |
  16. FrankLW

    Why has Mr. Zakaria not found it equally, if not more, important to censure the Muslim Center’s 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 6:08 am |
    • Americano

      You said:
      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."

      What about the mass murders of over 1400 innocent palestinian civilians and 10000 of palestinians prisoners...

      Or what about the starvation of more than 1,500.000 innocent paletinians civilians in GAZA.
      The entire worlds see the truth about the Israelies autrocities except our government

      google: OCCUPATIONS 101

      August 8, 2010 at 11:21 pm |
  17. Setay

    How conveniently that people here bashing Islam forget Christian history and America's settlement of the west. Oh yes, you're so innocent with no blood on your hands at all. I guess if you can generalize all Muslims for the acts of a few then I'm sure you wouldn't mind being compared with the leaders of the Inquisition, the massacres of Native Americans, the theft of half of Mexico, carpet bombing civilians in Germany, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam to weaken morale. I guess you're all the same as that soldier who raped a little girl in her home in Iraq and then slaughtered the family. I would say he most likely was insane, but I guess by your definition, all soldiers and Americans must be the same. See, why generalizing is stupid and how it solves nothing. Now grow up. At the very least study history and know what the Bible says. The Shariah law you all fear is almost verbatim with the Old Testament. Now go to your closet and make sure you're not wearing any clothes that are mixed linen; the Bible says you should be stoned to death.

    August 8, 2010 at 5:25 am |
  18. kamber

    America is the land of free and intollerance, but there a limit to everything. You can't go and ignored the fact that thousands died on 9/11 and now they want to build so close there. Let these people move to china and see if they can voice and build their mosque the way they want there.

    August 8, 2010 at 2:26 am |
    • Americano


      these people you are talking about ARE AMERICANS. your hear

      They can build, live, worship anywhere and everywhere.

      NOTHING IS ABOVE OUR FREEDOM. We are already out of some major freedom because of the Bush era.



      August 8, 2010 at 11:14 pm |
  19. dejaavu

    I am amazed to see how brainwashed most people who commented here. I thought US was the democracy and all views were listened and respected. US is no different than some autocratic regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Iran where different opinion is not tolerated and most people believe in conspiracy theories.

    August 8, 2010 at 1:41 am |
    • Arnab

      That is plain WRONG. You can never compare the two ... the US has already granted freedom to build the mosque and here we are only discussing whether it is right or wrong. SA, Iran and the other countries of the middle east do not come anywhere close to this, where any non-Muslim house of worship is banned, persecuted or driven out.

      August 8, 2010 at 1:55 am |
  20. 8009887



    August 8, 2010 at 1:26 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.