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August 12th, 2010
04:49 PM ET

Interview with 'ground zero mosque' spokesman

CNN Radio Correspondent Steve Kastenbaum filed this report from New York:

The leaders of the proposed Islamic community center and mosque near New York's ground zero are addressing their critics by vowing to be open and transparent as the project progresses.

But there have been few opportunities to question the organization’s leadership directly about the project. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Cordoba Initiative’s founder, has been out of the country most of the summer on one of his many international missions aimed at building bridges between Muslims and the West. (The U.S. State Department is sending him on a similar trip soon.)

But the spokesperson for Park 51, the name of the proposed project, agreed to speak with CNN Radio about the verbal attacks launched at his group and the emotionally charged debate swirling around the project.

Oz Sultan discussed whether they failed to anticipate the opposition that sprang up and admitted that they could have done a better job in reaching out to the rest of the country to explain their mission and goals. Sultan said they are committed to a transparent fundraising process and they will not take any money from any source that is on the Treasury Department’s watch list. He claimed they will even apply for Homeland Security funding available for terrorist abatement programs.

Click the play button below to listen to my interview with Oz Sultan.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Houses of worship • Islam • Mosque • New York • United States

soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. marilyn clark

    Obviously many people who comment DO NOT LISTEN. The interviewer has not given the IMAN the opportunity to discuss the national security issue to the degree that it will be understood. Give him a chance to offer the explaination! The fact that they are making this into a multi-religious place SHOULD be taken into consideration! People who object have the opportunity to participate in what will ultimately be build at this location, but with extremists (of whatever religion) won't even listen with open ears, they just fuel hatred, rather than finding a solution. PLEASE LISTEN FOLKS! PLEASE THINK! PLEASE BE FAIR! We need to handle this in a way that will improve relationships and repair bridges.

    September 8, 2010 at 9:27 pm |
  2. Tiller in Texas

    Build it and the Rednecks will come......to set it on fire that is. Go ahead build your mosque. It will become the most hated place in the US.

    September 7, 2010 at 8:51 pm |
  3. Kim

    No Controversial Buildings at Ground 0 ! Do we need to reinforce the Logan Act ? Rauf ? Woof and personally don't trust his connections or picking up any positive vibs . Have you heard about the American Movement going on ? It's the Chubby Checker twist on no Mosque ! Seriously,somebody call Hillary Clinton and this Mosque deal is out of hand and upsetting. Way to go Donald Trump and he's in there trying to help support a solution ! "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country." Bees can't sting and make honey at the same time. Please move the Mosque else where and this Ground 0 area is a bad idea ! What's going on ? Islamic head quarters New York at Ground 0 in a 13 story high building ? Why there ?

    August 22, 2010 at 8:11 pm |
  4. Sabine

    I will go along with this mosque under the following conditions:
    1) Under shariah law, Alicia Keys and Stink Beatz must be stoned to death for adultery. Heck, we could get rid of a lot of moally bankrupt people that way!
    2) Gay marriage will be abolished in NYC, as gays are hung by their necks in the Middle East all the time just following the rules of the Quaran and the religion of peace, Islam.

    August 16, 2010 at 1:19 pm |
    • Sabine

      morally bankrupt – sorry typo

      August 16, 2010 at 1:20 pm |
  5. barge

    For almost muslims all over the world, Ground Zero Mosque is a symbol of Islam's GREAT VICTORY over the Western World.
    An American confesion of surrender.
    It is surprised that Obama do not know about it ....or maybe Obama is a part of muslim's conspiration ?

    August 15, 2010 at 9:40 am |
    • smartie

      Yes, our spineless President amounts to a surrender. He won't be in office forever, however. Congratulations, for now.

      August 16, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
  6. cleanupnynow

    David Paterson is dead wrong to suggest that the state provide the land for the mosque. Has David Paterson ever heard of the separation of church and state?

    Once again, David Paterson proves that he has no ability to govern. However, as we all know too well, David Paterson proved long ago that he could not govern. “The Democratic Conference: Organizational and Operational Structure Report” is an eyewitness account of Paterson’s and his crew’s INCOMPETENCE and DYSFUNCTIONAL governing nature while Senate Minority Leader.

    http://www.politico.com/static/PPM110_demreportfinal.html

    Paterson’s office was criticized for PATRONAGE, LACK OF LEADERSHIP, INDECISIVENESS and INFIGHTING, set against a backdrop of general CHAOS – in other words the office, a ZOO. Those interviewed in the report indicated that its chief of staff the disorganized Michael Jones-Bey had no management skills, and would get DRUNK with staff, often coming in the office with a HANGOVER, and should be fired.

    Amazingly, for running such a DYSFUNCTIONAL CHAOTIC office, the disorganized Michael Jones-Bey was hand picked by David Paterson to mismanage the Division of Minority & Women Owned Business Development (MWBE) at Empire State Development Corporation.

    Now that’s the Paterson Way – being rewarded for your incompetence.

    August 14, 2010 at 11:23 pm |
    • Kate

      @cleanupnynow

      Not being a New Yorker, I can't say if I agree with your evaluation of Patterson or not – but you're right about his error offering land to the developers as far as I can see. It's clearly a violation of the Establishment Clause to me.

      Just sayin'

      September 8, 2010 at 9:33 pm |
  7. ebc52

    If this place is built then i would have lost all faith in this country, in a recent poll some 70% percent of americans are AGAINST the building of the ground zero mosque, this country was founded by the people, for the people, so if the vast majority of people living in this country are against it, shouldnt that be more than enough to say no to this? you can argue for the minorities all you want but when an important descision in this country is made, is it not the majority that decides? the us needs to stop kissing up to everybody to make everyone happy and do whats best for US.

    August 13, 2010 at 10:38 pm |
    • Kate

      @ebc52

      Individual's rights are not determined by a vote. You need to read up on "Tyranny of the majority".

      Just sayin'

      September 8, 2010 at 9:31 pm |
  8. Frogist

    Just a question to the mod gods if there are any... there are people who copy and paste their statement from blog post to blog post. They just keep copying the same thing word for word. Any chance we can get rid of the spamming? I'm personally tired of having to wade through it to find any real commentary.

    August 13, 2010 at 4:15 pm |
    • Tiredofwading

      I, too, would like to see some changes. Freedom of speech can be a tedious thing to honor in a blog, but this one is owned by a corporation, so freedom is not required here.

      August 13, 2010 at 7:10 pm |
  9. acmed Shams

    Please, friends, learn about how brutal the Taliban really are. This video is not lie:
    Please, you MUST see this:
    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9aw6Cnw0hY&w=640&h=360]

    August 13, 2010 at 12:12 pm |
  10. madmo

    The very idea of building a mosque there is a dangerous sign of Muslim demands on Western societies, says British authority Douglas Murray—and it shows that the U.S. must make a stand.

    “Islam is a religion of peace.” That is what every Western leader says every time a Muslim sets something off.

    They never tell us which ones they think are the violent religions. But for Islam it’s a win-win. Knock down a tower and everyone in government says how terrific Islam is. Build a tower and everyone in government says how terrific Islam is. Either way it’s a gain for Islam.

    My country, Britain, has led the way in this. But it is fascinating watching Mayor Bloomberg and Co. following the British curve.

    Subway bombs? “Peace.” Airline plots? “Peace.” Car bombs? “Peace.” It must be hard these days being a violent jihadi. No one in power believes what you say. It’s just impossible to get your message across.

    The U.S. authorities are making the same mistakes, and in exactly the same order, as those that the British government has made. Violent Islam is the problem and therefore some other form of yet to be decided upon peaceful Islam is the solution. Either way, win for Islam. Whatever the question, the answer is “Islam.”

    In my experience this is a terrible mistake. The answer to violent Islam is not Islam. And contra every liberal pundit practicing their religion of peace and acceptance speech, building a mosque by ground zero is not a counter-argument to violent Islam. It is an apology, and an offering, to it.

    [....]

    . But even if the imam of that mosque didn’t have questionable affiliations. Even if he’d never addressed an event organized by the revolutionary empire-building far-right bigots of Hizb ut-Tahrir. Even if the imam behind the ground zero mosque was the nicest, most peaceable, most out-on-a-limb progressive Muslim anyone had ever heard of, the building would still be wrong and it should still be possible to oppose it without being branded—nonsense-term of the hour—an “Islamophobe.”

    When the pope comes to London next month, he is going to be greeted by substantial numbers of protests organized by people calling for his arrest and accusing him of the wildest hatreds. Yet we do not hear that critics of the pope are bigoted, “Christianophobic.” Nor even if they were should it cause any alarm. But Islam is different.

    Why? It goes back to the “phobia” business. Arachnophobia is an irrational fear of spiders and claustrophobia is an irrational fear of small places. They are irrational because most small spiders and most small spaces do not kill you. There are, however, very sensible reasons to be fearful of many forms of Islam. Commuters in London and Madrid know why. As do Dutch filmmakers. And so do the numerous Muslim-born writers, artists, and musicians who spend their lives in hiding for fear of murder from their erstwhile co-religionists for “crimes” like “apostasy” and literary criticism.

    But the cowardice in identifying this and cringing stupidity of what passes for intellectuals and commentators in America, like the U.K., today is staggering.

    I regard myself as pretty much color blind and religion blind. And I expect the favor to be returned. When I go into a mosque, I take my shoes off. When I go to Muslim countries, I behave in the manner they expect. But religious toleration is a two-way street. America is not a Muslim country.

    Islam however has never been historically very good at understanding this. For all leading Islamic scholars the whole world belongs to Islam. Non-Muslims don’t have a say in it.

    Except we do.
    [from Douglas Murray's article in the Daily Beast]

    August 13, 2010 at 10:35 am |
    • SR

      Madmo:

      Amazing article. Thanks a lot.

      It takes a Brit to tell the truth to America. As usual.

      As another famous Brit, Chruchill said: "Americans can be counted upon to do the right thing, always. Only after they have exhausted all other possibilities".

      I hope in this case that the appeasement of Intellectuals like Stephen Pothero and editors at CNN does not not result in massive violence in the name of religion between Islamists, Christians and Jews.

      August 13, 2010 at 10:41 am |
    • Selfish Gene

      Guys, guys guys, it is ALREADY a mosque. They just want to redecorate.

      August 13, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
  11. M_Miles

    Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Cordoba initiative’s founder is being sent by Hillary Clinton of the U.S. State Department on your tax dollar around the world! On your tax dollar! If you think this is wrong visit ACLJ. org and take a stand against your tax dollar funding Fiesal's world tour. Fiesal will not call Humas a terrorist group, United States Law calls Humas a terrorist group. Again stand up for your rights, visit ACLJ.org and stand against the Cordoba initiative’s founder, Feisal Abdul Rauf.

    Mayor Bloomberg here is another 9/11 mosque you may want to . . .

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-10911542

    August 13, 2010 at 10:28 am |
  12. SR

    To President Obama: Stop using our Tax dollars to build mosques!
    AMERICA is NO LONGER A SECULAR NATION if we sponsor one religion at the expense of other religions.

    U.S. underwrites fund raising tour for Islamic shrine at Ground Zero

    By THE WASHINGTON TIMES

    The Washington Times

    7:46 p.m., Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, executive director of the Cordoba Initiative, addresses a gathering as groups planning a proposed mosque and cultural center near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan to be named Cordoba House showed and spoke about their plans for the center at a community board meeting in New York Tuesday, May 25, 2010. Community members both for and against the plan spoke during the meeting. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

    The State Department is sending Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf – the mastermind of the Ground Zero Mosque – on a trip through the Middle East to foster "greater understanding" about Islam and Muslim communities in the United States. However, important questions are being raised about whether this is simply a taxpayer-funded fundraising jaunt to underwrite his reviled project, which is moving ahead in Lower Manhattan.

    Mr. Rauf is scheduled to go to Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Qatar, the usual stops for Gulf-based fundraising. The State Department defends the five-country tour saying that Mr. Rauf is "a distinguished Muslim cleric," but surely the government could find another such figure in the United States who is not seeking millions of dollars to fund a construction project that has so strongly divided America.

    Americans also may be surprised to learn that the United States has been an active participant in mosque construction projects overseas. In April, U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania Alfonso E. Lenhardt helped cut the ribbon at the 12th-century Kizimkazi Mosque, which was refurbished with assistance from the United States under a program to preserve culturally significant buildings. The U.S. government also helped save the Amr Ebn El Aas Mosque in Cairo, which dates back to 642. The mosque's namesake was the Muslim conqueror of Christian Egypt, who built the structure on the site where he had pitched his tent before doing battle with the country's Byzantine rulers. For those who think the Ground Zero Mosque is an example of "Muslim triumphalism" glorifying conquest, the Amr Ebn El Aas Mosque is an example of such a monument – and one paid for with U.S. taxpayer funds.

    August 13, 2010 at 10:09 am |
    • Jaycee

      Perhaps the money they will use to build the mosque could be sent to Pakistan to help aid those suffering from the floods. Praying can be done at home and not on the streets of Manhatten

      August 13, 2010 at 11:30 am |
  13. SR

    To President Obama: Stop using our Tax dollars to build mosques!
    AMERICA is NO LONGER A SECULAR NATION if we sponsor one religion at the expense of other religions.

    U.S. underwrites fund raising tour for Islamic shrine at Ground Zero
    By THE WASHINGTON TIMES

    The Washington Times
    7:46 p.m., Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    The State Department is sending Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf – the mastermind of the Ground Zero Mosque – on a trip through the Middle East to foster "greater understanding" about Islam and Muslim communities in the United States. However, important questions are being raised about whether this is simply a taxpayer-funded fundraising jaunt to underwrite his reviled project, which is moving ahead in Lower Manhattan.

    Mr. Rauf is scheduled to go to Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Qatar, the usual stops for Gulf-based fundraising. The State Department defends the five-country tour saying that Mr. Rauf is "a distinguished Muslim cleric," but surely the government could find another such figure in the United States who is not seeking millions of dollars to fund a construction project that has so strongly divided America.

    Americans also may be surprised to learn that the United States has been an active participant in mosque construction projects overseas. In April, U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania Alfonso E. Lenhardt helped cut the ribbon at the 12th-century Kizimkazi Mosque, which was refurbished with assistance from the United States under a program to preserve culturally significant buildings. The U.S. government also helped save the Amr Ebn El Aas Mosque in Cairo, which dates back to 642. The mosque's namesake was the Muslim conqueror of Christian Egypt, who built the structure on the site where he had pitched his tent before doing battle with the country's Byzantine rulers. For those who think the Ground Zero Mosque is an example of "Muslim triumphalism" glorifying conquest, the Amr Ebn El Aas Mosque is an example of such a monument – and one paid for with U.S. taxpayer funds.

    The mosques being rebuilt by the United States are used for religious worship, which raises important First Amendment questions. U.S. taxpayer money should not be used to preserve and promote Islam, even abroad. In July 2009, the Office of the Inspector General published an audit of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) faith-based and community initiatives that examined whether government funds were being used for religious activities. The auditors found that while USAID was funding some religious activities, officials were "uncertain of whether such uses of Agency funding violate Agency regulations or the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution" when balanced against foreign-policy objectives.

    August 13, 2010 at 10:07 am |
  14. Ferdinand of Castile

    The politicians in Washington DC must remember that they are the ones classifying muslim terrorists as "extremists" but muslims themselves do not see terrorists as extremists. To muslims, the terrorists that Washington classifies as extremists are regarded as mattyrs who kill infidels like Muhamad did and taught his followers to do. The problem is therefore Muhamad and his teachings or cheatings to be precise. It is therefore purely ISLAM which is at fault. Washington should embark on rearmament and get prepared to nuke Mecca and Medina and wipe Islam out into the annals of history. Netanyahu can be commissioned with the first step of destroying the bloody Al- Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem which has inspires so much evil muslim pride manifested in acts of terror and murder. I wonder why with all the guns in the hands of civilians in America, no one has shot the guys behind the Cordoba initiative nonsense. They guys are drawing up a story which will show that Islam started its journey in America at ground zero. They have to be tackelled period!!

    August 13, 2010 at 3:24 am |
  15. JJJ

    IF THESE MUSLIMS ARE REALLY, TRULY "PEACEFUL" THEN WHY ARE THEY CALLING THE MOSQUE THE "CORDOBA HOUSE" WHICH REPRESENTS THE TOWN IN SPAIN WHERE MUSLIMS ATTACKED AND DESTROYED A CHURCH AND REPLACED IT WITH A MOSQUE?!

    August 13, 2010 at 12:37 am |
    • SR

      JJJ

      Read up on Taqquiya. The "Moderates" in Islam are just wolves in sheep's clothing. People like Fareed and others who have never spoken up against any issue (when the US invaded Iraq or when Pakistan exports global terror), suddenly are all huffed up and puffed up when a little insensitiveness on Islam's part is brought up by highly tolerant Americans.

      According to these Moderates, it is America that must show it's tolerant. Not Islam.

      Nice Taqqiya, guys. Keep it up and we will all end up not trusting a single Muslim ever in our lifetime.

      August 13, 2010 at 10:27 am |
    • thenewsjunkie

      First of all, you are talking about a period of history that was dominated by religiously based conquests. Not just Muslim but Christian, too. Second, once the conquest of Cordoba was completed, it became a city known for it's tolerance of people of all beliefs. Know your history and stop parroting what a few Islamaphobes keep saying.

      August 13, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
    • Selfish Gene

      I had a Chrysler Cordoba. It burned down a church and replaced it with a Jiffy Lube.

      August 13, 2010 at 3:38 pm |
    • rstoutness

      for 700 years Christians and Jews lived peacefully in Spain with Muslims. Cordoba was famous for its size and sophistication. Similar to what is happening at some American mosques, Christians would stand in front of the grand mosque in Cordoba and denounce Islam. But they were free to do so. And what happened once the Christians took over – they forcibly killed, expelled, or converted all the Muslims and Jews in the Spanish inquisition. Tellingly, where did the Jews who were expelled go? they didn't go to christian countries they went to the muslim ottoman empire because of the greater tolerance of muslims

      August 14, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
  16. reason

    Timothy McVeigh was Christian, but we do not prevent churches from being built near the Oklahoma State Bldg. Hitler was Christian and we don't vilify Christianity because he does not represent it. David Koresh said he was a Christian prophet, but we don't associate him with Christianty...
    The Rosenbergs sold nuclear secrets to the Soviets, Baruch Goldstein shot 29 people in the back while praying to God, and Israeli Yigal Amir asassinated his Jewish president (Yitzhak Rabin)... but we do not say Jews should be the enemies.
    Muslim fanatics attacked our nation (including American Muslims on 911). These are all acts of lunatics and these lunatics do not represent their greater populations. Ted Bundy's parents did not go to jail because he killed so many people. PERIOD.
    Anyone refusing to accept this as the way it is, is simply a bigot. The bigotry was always there – this just gave them their excuse to vocalize their bigotry. If that is wrong, then extremist hate groups like SIOA have really twisted their minds truning them into...bigots. If they only understood that they stand against everything our funding fathers risked their llives for. Truly an insult against what it means to be American.
    Paladino and Lazio's grandmas must literally be twisting their ears, reminding them when they were called "mafiosos." You want these guys in office protectimg your rights??????

    August 13, 2010 at 12:02 am |
    • Ferdinand of Castile

      The difference between Islamic and Non Islamic terrorism is that Islamic terrorism is both a human act and a religious duty as prescribed in the Unholly Quran while Non Islamic terror is simply human act not sanctioned in any texts!!

      August 13, 2010 at 5:05 am |
  17. Acroyear

    "We are certainly considering the 9/11 families feelings.." (I may not have the quote 100% correct.)

    NO YOU ARE NOT! If you were, then as soon as the massive opposition to this became apparent you would have backed down, said you understood the still raw wound this is and moved it... even a couple more blocks would have shown this "bridging the gap" you so claim to want to make.

    How could ANYONE possibly think that less than 10 years after one of the most shocking events in world history, that people who are part of the same cultural base would be welcome ANYWHERE near it?! I know, I accept that those monsters did not represent all of Islam. But to do this shows an incredible lack of tack and compassion, and to continue to push it says to me that this does have another agenda...or at the very least, that your group as a whole is doomed to failure if you can't understand and have compassion for the raw pain that still exists in much of the Western World.

    It has been 65 years since the end of World War II, and much of the ill feelings and wounds have been healed, but no German would welcome a memorial to the RAF and RCAF in Hamburg or Dresden...cities that were incinerated in fire bombing attacks. Nor would any sane, thinking veteran of either air force want to do so... to do that would be incredibly callous and unfeeling to the thousands of survivors in those cities who still remember that horror.

    How would the world react if German veterans wanted to build a memorial to their fallen comrades who died in Poland just a few hundred feet from Aushwitz? Germany is a valued member of the West now and still that thought turns the stomach...decades after what SOME Germans did. Some, but not all.

    How can any thinking Muslim not understand that even if we do think with our heads and not our hearts, know it was not all Muslims who did that, that ANY new Muslim center anywhere near that site is a staggering slap in the face?

    "Give us a fair shake" NO! Enough! We have backed down again and again and again and again. Let our traditions and our feelings be set aside to appease. NO MORE! If you truly believe in your mission than move it SOMEWHERE ELSE and prove you really are willing to compromise!

    Having said all that, I want to make one thing very clear. No government should be allowed to stop this... the 1st amendment of the US is too precious. And I will not condone the same violence visited on the world by terrorists. But again, if you truly do believe in this mission then show it... and move this to another location and show that you are indeed willing to meet the West half way... and not demand the West "understand" a philosophy, that from the outside looking in, appears to stand against all that most of us hold very dear.

    August 12, 2010 at 11:04 pm |
    • Matt

      Get some of your answer here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5drXEXkf9s

      August 13, 2010 at 6:21 am |
    • thenewsjunkie

      I hear what your are saying but the basis for your argument is faulty. The people behind the Islamic community center aren't trying to build a memorial to fallen soldiers, i.e.: the terrorists. So your post WW2 comparison is not vaild. Perhaps a better example would be if a British cultural orgainzation wanted to build a community center in Dresden that promoted inter-cultural dialogue and understanding or if Germans wanted to build some sort of learning center near Aushwitz that promoted peace and tolerance.

      Calling this a mosque is wrong. Yes, there will be a prayer room in the building according to the developers. But you wouldn't call a JCC (Jewish Community Center) a synagogue even though they hold high holy day services on the premises. You wouldn't call a YMCA a church even though they have programming around religous holidays like Christmas and Easter and the Y often has phrases from the bible posted, for example, on the walls in their gyms that serve as an inspiration for people working out.

      As for being sensitive to the feelings of the 9/11 victims's families... yes, the World Trade Center site is still an open wound and to some families, this is like pouring salt into the wound. For some, the site of Muslims gathering near Ground Zero is a reminder that the people who carried out the attacks did so in the name of Islam. Psychologically speaking, it's understandable. There is no denying that. But there are also many 9/11 families who support this center based on its stated mission and goals. If you look at who is talking out most vehemently about Park 51/Cordoba House (or whatever you want to call it), they have no personal connection whatsoever to the attacks of 9/11 at the World Trade Center. They tend to be emotionally charged people who grasp upon a few words like mosque and Islam to promote fear tactics as they spread Islamaphobia across the country.

      Was it not the best decision to place this two blocks from Ground Zero? Did they not anticipate the harsh, emotional reaction that swelled up, especially among politicians running for office? Yes to both. But folks, don't condemn them based on this one idea. How about letting their actions prove their intentions? If there is ever any teaching inside Park 51 that is anti-American or in support of extremist points of view, I feel safe in saying the the public outcry would force the place to be shut down. But if they are true to their word and are able to accomplish their stated goals, I think the center would be a positive contribution to our collective society.

      To the people who take issue with the Iman, perhaps Feisal Abdul Rauf could publically define what he thinks terrorism is. Then, if questioned about Hamas and Hezbollah, he could explain why he doesn't feel the definition of terrorism is applicable to the two groups. Or maybe he does think it's applicable. Unfortunately, we haven't heard from Rauf in recent weeks other than in a written statement as far as I can tell. Let us not forget, right here in the US, the IRA was considered by some to be a terrorist organization while others considered them to be freedom fighters.

      August 13, 2010 at 12:06 pm |
    • Acroyear

      Matt: and just how does this answer ANY of my questions? All I heard was a very angry man who does have the courage to stand up for his own beliefs. His belief that the Holocaust can not be used as an excuse for murder (and btw, I don't agree that what the IDF IS murder...I did a peacekeeping tour there. Hamas are monsters, and the sooner they are gone the better off the Palestinian people will be) has nothing to do with my wishing the people who want to build this Muslim center would respect the still deep pain of much of the Western World.

      I did not, I do not, advocate harming innocent Muslims. I do not, did not and never will advocate violating the 1st Amendment. I am in law enforcement, I swore an oath to serve and protect all. That includes Muslims.

      But I have EVERY right to ask, with anger, why a group who claims they wish to build bridges is starting off by infuriating a VAST portion of the very people they say they want to get to know them. You want to prove to me that you really do want to start healing the wounds? Then you listen to the anger, and yes, maybe even listen to the hate, and make a gesture. A single gesture of moving... no more than two blocks. That is making a gesture...that shows we still wish to have our own place to try to show you who we are, but we will respect you and move it further from this place you hold so sacred... even if WE don't understand or accept that.

      WHY does it have to be there? I can say, with passion but not with hate, why I think it is INCREDIBLY disrespectful to build a Muslim cultural center that close to that place. I have yet to hear any defender of this place say why it MUST be there.

      This is not hate. I will admit to heat, but it's not hate, it's not racism. I can not speak for all, but *I* at least am asking for this NOT be on that site out of respect for the pain it will cause. Insisting on putting it there is not respectful... and will not even come CLOSE to building these bridges they wish to build... in fact all it is likely to do is burn down even more bridges.

      And if they can't see that, if they really are that blind and naive, I really don't think they stand a ghost of a chance of building these bridges.

      August 13, 2010 at 6:49 pm |
    • rstoutness

      I disagree with your analogy. The correct analogy would be to say that Britons who moved to Germany could make a British cultural center, or that Germans living in Poland could make a German cultural center. A memorial to the British air force in Dresden is a specific reference to the group that caused harm there. The New York analogy to that would be a monument to al-Qaeda at ground zero. But the Muslims who live and work in that area only share the label "Muslim" with those who committed 9/11. So not allowing them to function freely is like Germany not allowing anyone from Britain to function freely or vice versa

      August 14, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
  18. Mike

    Yes...what drove the attack on 9/11? Ignorance and fear of others by religious zealots....people who have no clue about freedom of religion. Why should our standards be any different? BECAUSE THIS IS AMERICA WHERE PEOPLE ARE FREE TO PRACTICE WHATEVER RELIGION THEY WANT.......GET IT?!?!?!???????

    August 12, 2010 at 10:34 pm |
    • Qanun

      America is the land of private ownership. Landowners may even hide behind the facade of City Authorities to ward off unwanted deals, and to empower the City to set the tax code. Does Sultan Oz know who holds the title to the property? Could it be that the owner is more strict about this building, than say the Lincoln Ctr's owners? Just wondering aloud, thanks for your inclusive board.

      August 12, 2010 at 11:03 pm |
    • JJJ

      ONE PROBLEM: ISLAM IS NOT A RELIGION! IT IS A VERY DANGEROUS MILITANT AND POLITICAL "SYSTEM"!

      TO LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT ISLAM TEACHES, GOOGLE: AMERICAN THINKER SHARIA LAW

      August 13, 2010 at 12:38 am |
    • Grant

      LOUD NOISES!

      August 13, 2010 at 10:58 am |
    • Frogist

      JJJ, I think the Nazis had a similar approach to the Jews. If you claim being opposed to Jews was not about judaism as a religion but about biology or social standards you can go around that whole religion thing. I suspect that's the extreme right's point in claiming Islam is not a religion but merely a political stance. So I wonder are you a Nazi, JJJ? Do you want to have your very own concentration camp? Or did you merely follow what someone else said about this? Cuz that makes you a sympathizer and not much better than a Nazi.

      August 13, 2010 at 4:40 pm |
  19. Daniel

    Please stop referring to this as the "Ground Zero Mosque", as that identifier is not only inaccurate, it plays into the hands of those who oppose a Muslim community center and who depend on rhetorical appeals to emotional issues to do so.

    No one speaks of the Battery Park Synogogue as the "Synogogue at Ground Zero", or of St. Joseph's Church as "the Church at Ground Zero", as neither are actually at Ground Zero. Neither are they any further away than the proposed Muslim house of worship and community center.

    Phrasing headlines as you do actually creates the opposition on which you have been reporting, which is not only poor citizenship, it is bad journalism, and even transparently manipulative. Please credit your readers with a little media savvy.

    August 12, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
  20. Reality

    There is an easy solution:

    What drove the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon? The koran, Mohammed's book of death for all infidels and Muslim domination of the world by any means. Muslims must clean up this book removing said passages admitting that they are based on the Gabriel myth and therefore obviously the hallucinations and/or lies of Mohammed. Then we can talk about the safety and location of mosques and what is taught therein. Until then, no male Muslim to include Oz Sultan can be trusted anytime or anywhere.

    August 12, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
    • Angie

      I think that inflammatory intolerance is part of what drove 9/11, not the following of a book. Who are we to say which religion is right and which one is not? None of us, and we won't know until we die. It's embarrassing as an American that this is a debate. There is already a Mosque 4 blocks from Ground Zero. Who are we to preach what can and cannot be taught at a religious center? Where were the righteous during Waco? What about The Oklahoma Bombing? Are we not to have a church near the Federal Building? Christianity is not the most peaceful religion either. Lest we forgot things like The Inquisition, the Salem Witch trials, Nazism, which were all done in the name of a Christian God.

      And why is Gabriel the angel a 'myth' in the Qu'ran and Gabriel the Angel in the Catholic religion is acceptable?

      August 12, 2010 at 6:07 pm |
    • Reality

      Angie,

      As noted many times on this blog:

      The Muslim heart and soul reeks from the stench of the biggest con job ever pulled on humankind. Islamic tenets are nothing but the fairy tales of an hallucinating, contriving, warmongering, womanizing Arab named Mohammed. And that my friends is the message said learning center to teach. That along with the messages about the other oozing stench-filled con jobs pulled by the likes of Paul et al and the scribes of Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism.

      August 12, 2010 at 11:34 pm |
    • wol

      @Reality To accuse and make a blanket statement about every single person in a large group the way you do is ridiculous.

      August 13, 2010 at 2:17 am |
    • Nonimus

      @Reality,
      In principle, your argument has merit, that all religions are false and we, as a species, need to move, if that is your argument. However, your method leaves a lot to be desired. Hurling insults and incendiary comments at all parties is counterproductive, unless you intend to produce more hostility, irrationality, anger, defensiveness, etc., which would make you a troll i believe.

      August 13, 2010 at 11:24 am |
    • Reality

      One more time to cover all of the significant stupidity of today's religions:

      Recognizing the flaws, follies and frauds in the foundations of Islam, Judaism and Christianity by the "bowers", "kneelers" and "pew peasants" will quickly converge these religions into some simple rules of life. No clerics, imams, rabbis, professors of religion and priests needed or desired. Ditto for their houses and classes of "worthless worship". It will be called the great "Pink Slipping" of religion and its leaders.

      As per James Somerville, Philosophy professor emeritus from Xavier University, Cincinnati,

      "The faith of the vast majority of believers (and non-believers) depends upon where they were born and when."

      It is very disturbing that such religious violence and hatred continues unabated due to radomness of birth. Maybe just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of it all.

      August 13, 2010 at 11:37 am |
    • Sean

      You know the Islamic World could say the same about the Crusades and Christianity. When we stoop to the terrorists level of intolerance, we are no better than they are. Freedom of religion was included in the Bill of Rights precisely because America is better than that.

      August 14, 2010 at 7:51 pm |
    • voiceofreason

      What about the Bible? Doesn't it contain similar passages to the Quran?

      August 15, 2010 at 12:41 am |
    • Tiller in Texas

      Can we string up 1 muslim a day, please? I will buy all the rope.

      September 7, 2010 at 8:49 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.