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August 25th, 2010
11:07 AM ET

New York's Bloomberg: We are all Muslims

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

In a smart commentary on the shrill Republican silence in the face of the "Obama is a Muslim" nonsense, Slate’s John Dickerson wrote that "with so much traffic on the low road in American politics, you'd imagine a politician or two might take the high road simply to beat the congestion."

Well, New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg continues to take the road less traveled.

We are now in the Islamic holy month of fasting called Ramadan, and Bloomberg hosted last night an annual iftar, or fast-breaking dinner, at Gracie Mansion.

In his his remarks, Bloomberg, who has previously supported the Park51 project in the name of both property rights and religious freedom, once again spoke truth to fear and hatred. He admitted that “there are people of good will on both sides of the debate." He acknowledged that the World Trade Center site is "hallowed ground." And he observed that “there are people of every faith–including, perhaps, some in this room–who are hoping that a compromise will end the debate.”

“But it won’t,” he said.

The community center can and must be built at the Park51 site, he said. Anything less would “compromise our commitment to fighting terror with freedom."

During his remarks, Bloomberg welcomed Talat Hamdani, whose son, Salman Hamdani, a paramedic and Ne York City Police Department cadet, died on 9/11. He also welcomed Sakibeh and Asaad Mustafa, whose children, he said, “have served our country overseas.”

Bloomberg brought home the point that the propaganda war now being waged on Islam in America threatens to undercut our counterinsurgency battle for "hearts and minds" in Iraq and Afghanistan.  “If we do not practice here at home what we preach abroad–if we do not lead by example–we undermine our soldiers,” he said. “We undermine our foreign policy objectives. And we undermine our national security."

Bloomberg ended his talk by quoting some words from the embattled Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf:

At an interfaith memorial service for the martyred journalist Daniel Pearl, Imam Rauf said, ‘If to be a Jew means to say with all one's heart, mind, and soul: Shma` Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu Adonai Ehad; Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One, not only today I am a Jew, I have always been one. If to be a Christian is to love the Lord our God with all of my heart, mind and soul, and to love for my fellow human being what I love for myself, then not only am I a Christian, but I have always been one.'

“In that spirit," Bloomberg concluded, in words that echoed John F. Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech, "let me declare that we in New York are Jews and Christians and Muslims, and we always have been. And above all of that, we are Americans, each with an equal right to worship and pray where we choose. There is nowhere in the five boroughs that is off limits to any religion."

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Church and state • Culture wars • Islam • Muslim • New York • Ramadan • Religious liberty

soundoff (1,202 Responses)
  1. JohnUtah

    test

    August 25, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
  2. Guest

    How can you even say that, Bloomberg is nothing but generous with his contributions to the State of Israel.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:22 pm |
  3. CRIS

    IF THERE WAS A RELIGION THAT TREATED BLACKS THE WAY MUSLIMS TREAT WOMEN IT WOULDN'T BE EXCEPTED. I WILL NEVER BE FORCE TO ACCEPT SOMETHING THAT HARMS WOMEN ,AND OUR RIGHTS AND MY GOVERMENT HAS NO RIGHT TO ASK THIS OF ME. THAT RELIGION IS UNECEPTABLE.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:22 pm |
    • free2comment

      LOL
      Blacks have never suffered more than they did in this country at the hands of Christians. Check out Reflections at Apageinthelifeblogspot.

      August 25, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
    • Omar

      It's a good thing that you don't speak for the entire US population.

      August 25, 2010 at 1:41 pm |
  4. Chuck

    When did you ever here any of the 2billion Muslims come out and condemn the actions of 9/11. What I saw was dancing in the streets. If they are so tolerant go build a church or synagogue in one of their countries and see what happens. This whole thing is nonsense move the mosque away from ground zero! I work with someone that lived in Germany through the horror on the second world war. She has said everything she sees from today from Muslims world wide reminds her of Hitler. Everyone turned a blind eye to what he was doing until it was to late! I will not have any sympathy for their cause until the vast majority of Muslims condemn the radicals that have taken over their religion! As for mayor Bloomberg his opinion means nothing to me or the vast majority of Americans. No to bleeding heart liberals!

    August 25, 2010 at 1:22 pm |
    • Chris R

      Muslims condemning 9/11? Why right here: http://www.muhajabah.com/otherscondemn.php

      August 25, 2010 at 1:35 pm |
    • Omar

      They have spoken out over and over again. It just wasn't given the media coverage that the ones celebrating got. Search for "muslims denounce terrorism".

      August 25, 2010 at 1:40 pm |
  5. Ted

    First of all. two blocks in NYC is the equivalent of a mile anywhere else. And how do so many non-Muslims know what Muslims think ? Do they have Muslim friends ? Hee hee – I doubt it. Nor do they have Hindi, or Buddhist, or any other kind of friends other than the simple-minded people in their particular community. I have no belief in God and yet I think I exhibit more tolerance for the beliefs of others and the value of life than do the majority of all religions.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:22 pm |
  6. Lola

    They let go the the cancer terrorist out of compassion when he arrived to Libya they treat him like a hero and celebrated, because he killed Americans, why out of compassion we can't understand those people who lost loved ones on 9/11. After all on 9/11 all television stations were showing Muslims dancing on the roofs on Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn, weren't they USA Citizens?. They celebrated just like Libyans. How easy memory evades you for political and money purposes. Where is you decency, when you talk about freedom?.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:21 pm |
  7. David

    I am sick of hearing we are not at war with Islam. Somebody needs to wake up our idiot leaders and inform them that a significant portion of Islam is at war with us.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:20 pm |
  8. a2rjr

    Bloomberg is a fool. If his speech impressed you, you have no sense of reality.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:19 pm |
  9. Grandma

    Marcia, P.S. Yes, I am a Christian too, and I do believe it is a fact that Mayor Bloomberg is Jewish, but he was saying that New York is a melting pot of all religions and they are welcome in this country and in the city of New York. My Christian faith is strong enough that I can allow others to worship as they choose without threat to my faith.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:19 pm |
  10. iftikhar khan

    we are proud of you Mayor

    August 25, 2010 at 1:18 pm |
    • Bye Bye

      Bloomberg, Obama, Holder, Pelosi: they will soon disappear. They lost. No one supports closet muslims.

      August 25, 2010 at 2:30 pm |
  11. rkm63

    Mayor Bloomberg is so out of touch. Where is this mans compassion and understanding for 9/11 victims and their family members? Mayor, we Americans don't want you or any other in the ruling class to define who we are. So speak for yourself!

    August 25, 2010 at 1:18 pm |
  12. ZADOK

    Folks:
    In the 1930's Adolph Hitler published Mein Kampf, it was the "Holy Book" of Nazism. In Mein Kampf Hitler told the world everything he was going to do when he and his party gained power in Germany. When Hitler and the Nazis gained power in Germany they did everything Hitler said he and his party would do in Mein Kampf. Now, Jews, Christians, and Muslims are all supposed to be People of the Book. But the Muslim Holy Book, the Queran is the only Holy Book that specifically calls on all its believers to wage constant and never ending Jihad, Holy War, against non Muslims and kill them. Sharia, Muslim Law, as outlined in the Queran is full of Brutal, Sadistic, Primitive punishments – do Muslims carry these punishments out – They sure do!! Just check the digusting, sadistic, barbarous treatment of supposed "offenders" by the Taliban when they are in power, check Al Queda treatment of non believers, Oh, Wait!! They perpetrated the 9/11 Attack on the World Trade Center and glory in it. Check Sharia in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other Muslim countries – recent press on Stonings, Beheadings, and "legal" amputations in Muslim countries in the name of Sharia is easily found. Winston Churchill was one of the few pre WWII politicians to have taken Mein Kampf seriously and based his late 30's progaram on British re-armament and military preparedness on what Hitler said he would do in Mein Kampf – when asked during and after the war why he advocated re-armament and military preparedness Churchill replied "I read Mein Kampf, the rest of you should have read it and believed it too". Get a copy of the Queran, familiarize yourself on how Sharia is made to work in Muslim countries today, review the actions of the Taliban, and Al Queda. Forget about fantasy pronoucements based on Liberal Western values – read the Queran and look at current Muslim behavior. Read the Book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Islam is not about peace, love, and tolerance!!!!!!!!!! AND NEVER WILL BE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Muslims do not play "nice" with non Muslims no matter who or where they are!!!!! WAKE UP AND READ THE BOOK AND FOLLOW THE NEWS!! OH, forgot!! Muslim propaganda still harps on the "brutal" Christian Crusades of the Middle Ages. Folks, the Middle East, was part of the Christian Eastern Roman Empire until the Jihad of the followers of Mohammad conquered the Byzantine Roman Middle East, massacred Christians and Jews, destroyed churches, synagogues, and libraries (they destroyed the Great Library of Alexandria in Egypt and center of learning that was, at that time close to 1,000 years old) and sacked the cities in what is now Lebanon, Jordan, Sinai, Egypt, and Israel. Palestine had been Jewish since about 1000 B.C., it had been Christian since 330 A.D. all this changed with the Muslim Jihad in the late 7th century. The Christian Crusades were an attempt to expell the Muslim conquerors from the Holy Land and restore the destroyed Christian holy places. Later in 1452 the Muslim Turks conquered the Byzantine city of Constantinople, and from this base, their Istanbul, waged a 300 year Jihad agains Western Europe, almost capturing Vienna in 1692!!! AGAIN WAKE UP AND READ THE QUERAN, READ THE HISTORY OF MUSLIM JIHAD AND REVIEW CONTEMPORARY JIHAD AND READ THE LAWS AND PUNISHMENTS OF SHARIA!!!!!!!!!!

    August 25, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
    • Naveed

      This is not an essay writing contest! Come to terms with the fact you are a hate monger.

      August 25, 2010 at 1:32 pm |
    • noBama

      It is a tragedy that most people don't understand this. It's refreshing to see someone post intelligent comments based on fact.

      August 25, 2010 at 1:37 pm |
    • Byrd

      Found in the Christian hymnal:
      Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war....
      Christ, the royal master, leads against the foes...

      Sure sounds like the Koran to me...

      August 25, 2010 at 1:39 pm |
    • noBama

      Naveed, you are an idiot and a good reason for pro choice. You should avoid breeding as it would dilute the gene pool.

      August 25, 2010 at 1:42 pm |
    • Byrd

      They're coming to take you away, haha
      They're coming to take you away...

      American Christians used to tolerate all religions. At least in the America I grew up in...

      August 25, 2010 at 1:49 pm |
    • Naveed

      Nobama, my applogy to your mother.

      August 25, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
    • JJ

      I love when someone posts some critical thinking you get beat down. I like your insite. Most people on here have a singular opinion and when someone doesn't agree with it they call them racist. It's such a worn out excuse. Like blaming Bush for things that are wrong with this Presidency. Move on people and discuss things unilaterally instead of beating on people. Radical Islam has already won because this Mosque has divided America. We are so gullible and play into their hands. This construction was carefully planned out.

      August 25, 2010 at 4:33 pm |
  13. AndyH

    Bravo for Bloomberg, spoken like a TRUE AMERICAN.....

    August 25, 2010 at 1:16 pm |
  14. Byrd

    Hey, I can be a Muslim today! And if I want to I can be a Hindu tomorrow and a Buddhist on Friday. Just don't dunk me into any religion excludes all others, be it Islam, Christianity or whatever. Existence is quite flexible and big enough to handle all of the multi-faceted religions. I wish I could say the same for America.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:16 pm |
  15. Weary of PC

    Anybody in NY remember Neville Chamberlain?

    August 25, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
    • Byrd

      I remember Neville! Are you saying that fundamentalists are ready to go to war over this issue rather than learn the tolerance of which your favorite prophet spoke? Your own Rupert Murdock of FOX News and his Saudi partners are some of the major benefactors of this community center. So are you going to attack yourselves first with another Night of the Long Knives, or are you just going to start shooting anyone who looks at you funny?

      August 25, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
  16. Lex Rex

    There is a way that seems right unto man: but that way leads to damnation,, Narrow is the way and broad is the path that leads to destrution, I am the way the life, no man comes to God but through Jesus, If Jesus was a great prophet in the Quran: why are they not listening to Him? Do you think that another prophet has another gospel and that God is the author of confusion? two prophets two gospels? seems to defeat the purpose of the messenger and the message.But if Baal be god follow him, But If God be your God then follow him, as for me and my house we will follow God. p.s. good luck with that building thing, its just brick and mortar other than that eh..

    August 25, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
  17. LB Colorado

    F.Y.I., WE ARE NOT ALL MUSLIMS – not even close. How awful for this man to say such a thing. I believe that this is deformation of character. Muslims are not anything that I would want to be associated with or connect to. In my heart feel that they are evil in all of their glory. I am sickened by his remark.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
    • Chris R

      You didn't read the article did you? Bloomberg never said that. Next time read past the headline before you comment.

      August 25, 2010 at 1:31 pm |
    • Frogist

      I'd wager a dime to a dollar that you have never met any muslims...

      August 25, 2010 at 8:34 pm |
  18. Grandma

    Marcia, Unfortunately the headline was misleading and sent a lot of you folks over the edge. Mayor Bloomberg did not just say "We are all Muslims" as the article was headlined!

    IF YOU WERE TO READ THE ARTICLE you would find it closes with this paragraph: “In that spirit," Bloomberg concluded, in words that echoed John F. Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech, "LET ME DECLARE THAT WE IN NEW YORK are JEWS and CHRISTIANS and MUSLIMS, and we ALWAYS HAVE BEEN. And ABOVE ALL THAT, WE ARE AMERICANS, EACH WITH AN EQUAL RIGHT TO WORSHIP AND PRAY WHERE WE CHOOSE. There is nowhere in the five boroughs that is off limits to any religion."

    I respect each person's right to worship as they choose, not to force them to believe as I do. Did you ever understand why the Pilgrims came to America? I believe it was to have freedom of worship and you seem to want to change that. How would you like to have someone tell you that your religion was worthless and that you didn't belong in America, so why don't you leave? That would be a violation of the First Amendment.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:14 pm |
    • Jeff A.

      The pilgrims would have been less than ecstatic to be greeted by an America run by Sharia law, where the women are second class citizens, and they make up the laws as they go along according to the size of the Muslims sword, and his radical views. They would have jumped right back on the boats, except of course your relatives who would not have understood what was going on !! lol

      August 25, 2010 at 3:41 pm |
      • Shadtree

        Jeff there are many fundamentalist Christian groups that tread women like sub-human. Women have to fight today to have the right to decide if they want to let a fertilized egg grow inside thier body.

        August 25, 2010 at 3:50 pm |
  19. Da Professor

    It is only the right-wing extremists that live in fear, wave the flag as though they are the only truly patriotic Americans, and speak lies, hypocrisy, and nonsense on a regular schedule. Their birther crappola is based on a columnist discussion with Obama's grandmother who speaks NO ENGLISH and NEVER SAID that Obama was born in Kenya. That of course did not dismay the columnist. He wrote his article based not on facts but on his drive and LIES to increase his ratings.

    We must protect the Constitution and Bill of Rights from these right wing controlled Republican slugs.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:14 pm |
  20. TIMOTHY

    WE ARE ALL GOD'S CHILDREN!

    Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,
    To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.

    For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

    But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,

    Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

    Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;

    That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

    This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

    But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.

    A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;

    Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

    When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter.

    Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them.

    And let our's also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.

    All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:13 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.