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August 8th, 2010
10:15 AM ET

Developer behind 'ground zero' Islamic center: 'This is not about the World Trade Center'

[cnn-video url= http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2010/08/08/chernoff.sharif.intv.cnn%5D

Q: Why not have this center a little further away from the World Trade Center instead of just two blocks right there? There probably wouldn’t be much opposition…

A: This is not about the World Trade Center. This is not about a particular location.

This is about a need that exists within the Lower Manhattan community and its need that exists within the Muslim community to have a community and a cultural center. And it’s pretty hard finding real estate in New York

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Houses of worship • Interfaith issues • Islam • Mosque • Muslim

soundoff (433 Responses)
  1. Wild Bill

    Fahim Lodhi...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 12:48 pm |
  2. Mark

    Kyle you are 100% right, and Fahim Lodhi you are an idiot if you don't know by now that we know what you teach in those "centers." We have seen your textbooks, and we know what you teach. You teach hatred towards all other religions and people. Your concept of freedom is being under Sharia Law. The U.S. concept of freedom is Liberty. Two very different things. Sure, the Imam says he opposes the Taliban, etc., but then why does he teach hate towards Jews and Christians? Actions speak louder than words. Show the world your hate-filled texts. Show the world your hate-filled Koran. We know what you are truly about. Say what you want, but your actions speak louder than words.

    August 8, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
  3. Kay

    I don't have a problem with religious people wanting to pray somewhere but many mosques that are built in US now include schools and other parts of the mosque. The Muslim community thus does not integrate with American culture but instead educates their children SEPARATELY from the rest of the community. Even Catholics today have fewer schools and most Christians send kids to public school. Those who know Muslims who send their kids to these separate schools, also realize how separate they are from American culture and how much they are involved in the political side of Islam.

    August 8, 2010 at 12:45 pm |
    • nomoregbldgk

      @Kay
      from personal experience I know that Muslims do not integrate well in your society for instance there was the one who built the first functioal transciever in your cell phones and the same one who had a hand indesigning the sensors for your Star Wars program and the very same one who built the first firber optic gyroscope in your satellites and she sooo could not integrate in your sacrosanct society but she could integrate in more meaningful ways and if you ever met her you wouldn't have known that she is the most blatantly Muslim mu'im you ever laid eyes on

      August 8, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
  4. Ty

    @buddha Saudi Arabia is not a Muslim country. It is a Muslim-majority country, but the government is not necessarily representative of Islam or Islamic values. The reason that there are no multicultural centers in Saudi is because of their lack of immigrant culture. Immigrants in Saudi are seen as commodities to grow the country, not as citizens to live in the country forever. I know a guy who was born in Saudi, but is not a citizen of Saudi. There is even a policy called Saudification to make sure that Saudis have the best jobs in the country. Just because Muslims go to Hajj in Makkah and visit the mosque in Medina does not make the entire country Muslim.

    The king lives richly, having over 1 billion dollars. All kinds of oil wealth are spent on luxury. Women cannot drive, though no directive in the faith of Islam tells that.

    As in every faith, people do not follow the faith to the letter, and people who are not Muslim take verses out of the Quran out of context, picking and choosing verses like a Chinese buffet. Most of them have not read the entire Quran, and until they do, they will never understand Islam. And I'm not talking about some biased translation, I'm talking about something that closely resembles the original Arabic text that the Quran was revealed in. These same people have never read the life story of Muhammad, or his many quotes. Instead, they focused on his relationship with Aisha and equating that to pedophilia.

    Then certain ignorants want to criticize Obama or some other non-Muslim and blame the freedoms that Muslims get on them. Oh, since Muslims are evil they cannot have freedom. Since Saudi and Egypt don't give freedom to Christians, why don't we do the same.

    Well if you people are bent on destroying the lives of the Muslims, do some real action instead of grandstanding and pussyfooting on this forum. Tell your Congressman to ban Islam and all Muslims from the nation, instead of complaining about the religious rights that Muslims get or how "easy" it is for them to build a mosque wherever they want and dominate America. Let your hatred seep into your soul, and let your heart become dark to the point that your mind is clouded in seeing any good to the Muslims.

    Is that all you are good for? Or are you smart enough to open up the Quran and read the true Islam, and reject the ideas and wrongs that "Muslims" put out there, Muslims who may have not read the faith and probably only are Muslim because of their parents or culture. Stop using erroneous people as the example for Islam, and open the Qur'an to learn what Islam is. Forget about jihad and terrorism and all this nonsense and go to the crux of Islam. If you are too dumb and ignorant to do this, then do yourself a service and don't talk about Islam. Mind your own business and stick to bettering yourself, instead of making yourself an expert in Islam. Cause you ain't.

    August 8, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
  5. GAB

    As a Jewish american I can say they have the right to build there, I know people are against it but in american you have the right to worship.I can still remember 9/11 my car was filled with the smoke and dust- and lost some friends there. In Israel we have an old saying not every Muslim is a terrorists but every terrorists is a Muslim.... let them build

    August 8, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
    • Mike

      GAB – So correct. This is America, you may not agree with it but they have the right to build it.

      August 8, 2010 at 12:50 pm |
    • Dave

      GAB – What makes them a terrorist? Actually answer this – when your military treats them worse then we treat our pets in America, why is that okay? Why is it that if a Palestinian is killed or starved or has his home demolished it's okay? But when an Israeli dies, it's terrorism? The terrorists might still be in the 8th century, but the policies of your Israeli prove that your people have become the Nazis they hated so much. Your double standard and lack of humanity towards them only hurts your nation. Whats worse is you try to silence all critics by calling them anti-Semites. These are the ways of real terrorists. The Taliban do the same thing, silence all opposition.

      August 8, 2010 at 12:50 pm |
    • g

      What if they wanted to build it at the memorial to the Holocaust in Auschwitz?

      August 8, 2010 at 1:07 pm |
  6. dmmd

    I agree with Fareed that the ADL's objection the the Muslim building near the trade center is inappropriate, but he need not have a tantrum and return their award because of it. Childish tantrum behavior. Fareed, GROW UP!

    August 8, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
  7. Barb

    Exactly Howler, I think the developers should be the "sensitive" party here, NOT the families of the victims of the attack , nor the citizens of NYC, or the US for that matter. . This is the United States, we were attacked and many lost their lives....coincidently the perpetrators were Muslim, common sense would suggest the muslum developers are the extremely insensitive people in this situation. Instead of the US "tolerating" and "accepting" and being sensitive" and politically correct, how about the shoe go on the "other " foot for a change.

    August 8, 2010 at 12:40 pm |
  8. jobo

    Faham, you say that close to 1000 Muslims lost their lives on 9/11. All I can assume is that you are taking that number of Muslims that were killed by Islamic Thugs in the Muslim world into account, and not The World Trade Center. Once you put up a false number by trying to imply that a third of the people killed in the 9/11 attacks were Muslim then nothing else you have to say means anything. You need to get your facts straight before you come here preaching to anybody.

    August 8, 2010 at 12:36 pm |
  9. Dan

    Mesa Mick – Amen, nothing in history has started more wars then Religion! I believe in God, but I don't believe in Religion of any type because it is all hype, control and money. The Mosque of Abu Dabhi is a prime example, this is an enormous complex that probably exceeds the opulence of the Vatican and for what, to buy your way into heaven? Man builds monuments to himself, gives money so he can be in the good graces of those who build the religion thinking it will ease the road to heaven. I don't care what religion it is, it is destructive mind control. In the US we have TV evangelist who exist to pilfer money from poor lost souls looking for salvation and these suckers send their hard earned money to enrich the crooked evil doers. I would love to see religion of all kinds banned period. If you want to worship God the worship Him but don't buy into this crap about a particular religion has some inside track to heaven.

    August 8, 2010 at 12:35 pm |
    • Joe G

      Well, you're one step away from sanity. Stop believing in gods and then you can be a real boy!

      August 8, 2010 at 1:41 pm |
    • proud muslim

      how idiotic are you more wars were started in the name of advancing a political agenda then religion where do you get your facts from idiot

      August 8, 2010 at 2:45 pm |
  10. Dennis

    That building will be built with sensors and surveillance equipment in every beam and slab. The muslims have no right to expect otherwise.

    August 8, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
    • Mike

      What country do you live in? Last I checked America was still about freedom of speech and religion. Unless, of course, you don't believe in those values. Or I guess you only believe in them when it suits you?

      August 8, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
  11. Otto

    As long as people are ok with not being able to put up religious centers or places of worship of any kind, then I say the argument against the mosque is semi-valid only insofar as it would make it more consistent. Otherwise, you are singling out one religious group, and that is not viable (there's this thing called Freedom of Assembly). I'm always amazed at how quickly people are willing to give up their rights in the name of "protection" or freedom. Kind of ironic.

    In many ways, the terrorists are winning, because we are living in fear and willingly giving up our rights and freedoms more and more each day. We are too stupid collectively to notice though.

    August 8, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
  12. Shah

    I think they should build a hospital or unversity there, why spend 100 million on community centre?

    August 8, 2010 at 12:28 pm |
  13. gr1ff0n

    If the majority of Muslims are against terrorism, why are the terrorists not being hunted down. All the terrorists started out worshipping in mosques so it it is easy to make the inference that mosques=terrorism.
    The flip side of this is that the Islamic religion in other countries runs the daily lives of the people. Americans are allowed to run their daily lives as they see fit within the confines of secular law and not what any one religion tells them. The inference here is mosques=Islam telling them what to do.
    Bottom line is until the Islamic terrorists are put down for good, America, and probably any secular country, is going to react negatively toward Islam.

    August 8, 2010 at 12:27 pm |
    • Mike

      This is stupid. The Japanese built a replica of the Byodo-In Temple temple right near Pearl Harbor. How come you don't have problems with that?

      August 8, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
  14. Dan

    Saad Hasan – It is hatred learned from 9/11 and reinforced by each terrorist attack. The murder of 10 doctors who according to the Taliban were spies and trying to teach Christianity, were they legitimate killings in your eyes? I work with a very pleasant Pakistani Muslim who is not terribly devoted to his faith but he is very anti-Semitic and is very narrow in his belief about the right of other religions to exist, and I fear he is typical. As someone else mentioned, this is not about race, there are Muslims from almost ever race; it is about a violent religion, found in violence and still exists in violence. It is not compatible with Western secularism in any manner and the only reason I can see Muslims wanting to live in this country is to avoid the harsher penalties of their religion and living in the desert pretty much sucks. But as you know not all Muslims that come to this country leave their harsh traditions back home; I.e., a father that murders his two daughters because they have become too western.. or the Muslims taxi drivers at airports refusing to carry passengers who may be carrying a bottle of wine. There are many examples of the incompatibility of the West with Islam and I fear it will continue to grow. I also share your fear of genocide because I firmly believe it can happen here and as Islam tries to expand in the US its opposition will continue to grow until things become explosive. Having spent many years in the Middle East my own personal opinion is that Islam is an oppressive and dangerous religion that thrives on fear and intimidation. As many others have said, try to build any kind of church in Mecca or Medina and see how long your head stays on your shoulders.

    August 8, 2010 at 12:26 pm |
    • Dave

      I think your views are narrow minded. As an American Muslim who has attended several mosques over the years, I can tell you from the hundreds of others I've gotten to personally know that these people aren't here to escape Islamic oppression. They are here for political reasons. The majority of Islamic nations today are under corrupt dictatorships with economic policies that benefit only those in power. As far as "harsh traditions" go that you outlined, these aren't traditions but merely the actions of bad people. We have them here in the U.S. too. Do you not read the U.S. section of the news and see all the murders that happen in this country? It's safe to say most of these people are Christians, no? You said yourself America is a Christian nation. So why isn't it fair to say these are Christian murderers? Your friends anti-Semitic views are likely a result of Israeli policy and whats perceived to be Israeli dominance of U.S. policy. Most Muslims are convinced the whole Iraq war was solely pushed by the Jewish neocons and the Democrats only played along to win Jewish voters. The only thing that made Saddam different from the other dictators of the Middle East was that he not only supported Palestinian bombers but he did so openly. Try to open your own mind a bit. Your views show nothing but ignorance and intolerance. Islam is the fastest growing religion in America. There's really not much you can do about it. Nobody is trying to infringe on your rights, but if you infringe on ours you will likely see your doom.

      August 8, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
    • Dan

      Dave, do you threat? Doom from whom, Islam, not in this lifetime I can assure you. Oppression that you indicate gets it support from Islam and they use the Religion to control the masses. You obviously have never been to the Middle East to make the ignorant statements contained in your response. Visit Qatar, Saudi, Kuwait, Bahrain and tell me about all the oppression. You can argue the Saudi King but even that is pretty lame unless you consider women being prohibited from driving as being oppressive and a reason to abandon your country. Islam is the fastest growing religion in America, that is true and it will also be the quickest to disappear.

      August 8, 2010 at 12:53 pm |
    • g

      They also want their separate sharia law to be used by them here.

      August 8, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
    • rudy

      1- Muslims are terrorist.
      2- Muslim community wants to construct a victory mosque near ground zero
      3- Muslims have problem or they are fighting with practically every other religion in the world.
      4- Muslims should be banned to immigrate in to America. They are just like a cancer of the society
      5- All the terrorist in the 9/11 attack were Muslims.
      6- They wants to create more terrorist in the US therefore they are building a mosque near ground Zero.
      7- This is a christian nation and not an Islamic nation we are allowing you to stay here in peace and safety for that you have to be thankful.
      8- no more Mosque should be allowed to be constructed in the US
      9- Muslim should be deported to their own nations.
      10- Muslims are terrorist, They are problem creator of the world, They have problem with all other religion in the world. They are dangerous.

      August 8, 2010 at 1:24 pm |
    • ILOVEAMERICA

      @Laura
      1- Muslims are terrorist.
      [There may be terrorists in all countries. When you are a terrorist, you dont hava religion. this means, who ever practicising islam cant be a terrorist AND who ever into terrorism cannot be a muslim. he will be a non-believer]
      2- Muslim community wants to construct a victory mosque near ground zero
      [Even innocent muslims lost their lives in that tragic. this statement is wrong]
      3- Muslims have problem or they are fighting with practically every other religion in the world.
      [Read holy quran. it preaches peace. fighting for injustice will not fall into this category. you miss being with a muslim]
      4- Muslims should be banned to immigrate in to America. They are just like a cancer of the society
      [Racism is already in you. Similarly you would say no african americans should be in the US. there is a racist in you..please correct yourself]
      5- All the terrorist in the 9/11 attack were Muslims.
      [See the answer 1]
      6- They wants to create more terrorist in the US therefore they are building a mosque near ground Zero.
      [Islam preaches peace. when you actually read quran you will one day understand this. open your eyes. you are seeing urself with biased media eyes]
      7- This is a christian nation and not an Islamic nation we are allowing you to stay here in peace and safety for that you have to be thankful.
      [I'm a muslim. I love america. terrorists are not muslims and muslims practice peace and not terrorism]
      8- no more Mosque should be allowed to be constructed in the US
      [may god show you the right path]
      9- Muslim should be deported to their own nations.
      [see answer 4]
      10- Muslims are terrorist, They are problem creator of the world, They have problem with all other religion in the world. They are dangerous.
      [see answer 1. I see you as a terrorist and people like you are the cancer for our society]

      August 8, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
    • ILOVEAMERICA

      Sorry @rudy..

      August 8, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  15. Nunzi

    Jews, being the ACLU obviously! Read also; "Because They Hate" by Brigitte Gabriel" instead of Bloomberg's "PC" crap & betrayal of his own city!

    August 8, 2010 at 12:25 pm |
    • PeteM

      Thanks for the book review. I won't be reading any claptrap, thanks. I have that right.

      August 8, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
  16. Mike

    People against this need to decide what kind of country we want to live in. Is it the America that believes all men are created equal, or only those who have the same belief system as you? Islam is a religion, and has every right under US law to build their Mosque. Do you really want to start denying those rights selectively according to whatever your beliefs are? Have fun when that wheel spins around to something you want to do, but aren't allowed to because the "freedom" you decided to start taking away now applies to you. If people start denying rights like this, then you are letting the terrorists win. You're giving them exactly what they want, which is to destroy the America we love some much. You know, the one with freedom of religion and speech.

    August 8, 2010 at 12:23 pm |
    • Tarn

      I am convinced that our freedom of religion is really just freedom to be insane and delusional.
      Who cares what a crazy person does until he or she hurts someone else. Doesn't anyone want to keep these insane people away from children?
      Where is the protection for children in our Constitution? They are the most helpless of beings. The indoctrination of children must stop or this madness will only continue forever.

      August 8, 2010 at 2:00 pm |
    • Mike M

      I appears that either I mis-wrote or you misunderstood. I think that the Mosque near ground zero is the best thing we can do to show the terrorists (Not Muslims) that The US will not bow down to fear and will remain Free for religion, for democracy, for individuals to create something great through openness and Ideas.

      Let freedom ring (And not just for people who think, act, look or believe the same as the majority)

      August 9, 2010 at 2:50 am |
  17. Howler

    People expect America, which was founded on Judeo-Christian philosophy to bend over backwards and accept their religion. How many churches are in Saudi Arabia, in Mecca? So again we have a double standard where we supposed to accept them unconditionally without them reciprocating. Most Muslim countries are very intolerant of other religions. Thats just a fact.

    August 8, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
    • Tarn

      We have no reciprocal agreements with those countries that address this issue.

      August 8, 2010 at 12:59 pm |
    • Laura J

      We may not have reciprocal agreements, but reciprocity demanded by boycott and political pressure is a time honored tradition here. We are talking about a group of nations with no human rights for women and a religion which is tied to politics. This is NOT the same as religion in the USA. Sharia law is an outrage and should never be supported by this country. The point is very valid – why extend to a foreign funded development the courtesy it denies on its own soil?

      August 8, 2010 at 2:27 pm |
    • FastEddie

      @LauraJ I agree that we have ways of working within the system to get things done. Or maybe it would just take a lot of money. Traditionally, money gets more done because greed always has poverty to use as a club.

      August 8, 2010 at 2:48 pm |
  18. John Geheran

    Even if the "front persons" are sincere in their rationale for erecting a mosque near "Ground Zero", there is simply too much history as well as the numerous aspects of Islamic theology that speak to what this proposed mosque is really all about.......Islamic supremacism. "War is deceit".

    August 8, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
  19. Dennis

    Although a "religion", islam is also a subversive organization. The sooner our "leaders" wake-up to that fact, the sooner we can start curtailing its spread into the US.

    August 8, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
    • Tarn

      If we curtail any "religion" then we violate the Constitution.
      There is nothing to stop us from curtailing criminal activity, though. Conspiracy against the United States is only a crime within the United States.

      August 8, 2010 at 12:57 pm |
    • maxx013us

      good luck with that ...

      August 8, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  20. Mesa Mick

    This country needs another mosque like it needs another church or temple. We as a nation should be working at eliminating them, not adding more.

    Besides, mosques are no differnt than a church or temple...Overthrowing goverments and imposing religious law is the goal of ALL religions and the "places of worship" are simply legitimized training camps. Throw in praying 5 times a day or bible study 3 times a week and the "religious leaders" can brain wash most "true believers" into doing anything violent to "non-believers". After all, it's god's will ya know...

    August 8, 2010 at 12:14 pm |
    • Dan

      LOL. Whatever, dude. Christians in the US are its gretest supporters and constantly try to build her up, not tear her down.

      August 8, 2010 at 4:45 pm |
    • PeterM

      @Dan Nothing like a pair of religion-colored glasses, is there?

      August 8, 2010 at 8:31 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.