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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. Christopher Tingus

    Wake up Infidels! Wake up infidels!

    The mosque is a symbol of Islamic victory at Ground Zero! There are 100 mosques throughout New York which exist for paryer – try bringing your Christian Bible into a mosque and praying with your Bible....Try going to the mosque in Jerusalem Mr. Mayor with your Bible and you would be expelled and may even far greater harm – Isn't it interesting how ignorant of hisyory man is and just for teh record, when the Jews were surrounded by troops and tanks and all else of the Arab League, ready to pounce, the Israelis, despite the odds were victorious! Think about why?

    The mosque in Jerusalem was in Israeli possesion. After all, the troops surrounding Israel were trying to extinhuish Israel and their Israeli brethren – it was teh Hebrew who handed the Jerusalem shrine back to Islam and Muslim hands, however with the provision that Christians woudl be allowed and others to pray – try carrying a Bible even in close proximity to the Jeruisalem mosque, try it – you'll be out of your duff before you know it –

    Wake up infidels – the pages of history are turning. The Islamic Muslims who are the fundamentalists don't give a damn about you, New York, Washington or the Christians who reside here in our beloved Republic!

    While the "Brutes of Tehran" and the Russian "KGB Putinites" conspired and the world blinked again, the road is paved for WMD's to be launched not only in the direction of God sovereign territory and land, Israel given as covenent to the Hebrew, but missiles launched towards saudi and the UAE and other places –

    You are a Christian infidel and if you are not willing to convert, then oust they will and Barry Obama and Bloomberg with his global business and billions, he could give a damn as well about you –

    The reason behind this must cite for the fundamentalists – a sign of victory and throughout victory, such victories were always celebrated by mosque!

    Wake up infidenls – carry your Bibles high and with pride!

    God Bless all!

    Chris

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

      'islamic muslims"!!!!! You need to get on on your turnup truck and go away..

      August 25, 2010 at 1:37 pm |
  2. JohnUtah

    Thank you Bloomberg for not behaving like 99 percent of all the other Politicans who take their marching orders from the Neo Con regime in Washington!!!!!! Seek the Truth o people and dont listen to everything in the media, erase the hatred in your hearts for that is not what Jesus preached.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
  3. Eric

    You know I've never posted a comment on any site ever, but I think it's hilarious how people continue to argue with the bigots of this country thinking they have the ability to understand. If you haven't noticed by now, their backwards thinking has been ingrained in them since day one of their obviously poor upbringing. It's unfortunate that the founders of this country had the foresight to give all the right to freedom of their religion just to see that get destroyed by a bunch of ignorant, uneducated bigots. You say to others go back to your country, I say, why don’t you find another country to live in. Because this country is great for a reason and that is our diversity, freedoms, and tolerance.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
  4. paul

    to Joe G, you drank the cool-aid didn't you? c'mon admit it!!! eitheryou're with us or against us, let's start the war because we haven't played cowboys & muslims yet. our cultures don't mix but eutopian blindness is no way to go through life.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:29 pm |
  5. Taty111

    Muslims can build their mosque somewhere else not near Ground Zero. This is not prejudicial just respect tp all people that died on 9/11.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
  6. Terry from West Texas

    I must quote a sensible poster who moniker I forget.

    "The Muslims want to build a mosque three blocks from a hole in the ground. What is the issue?"

    The destruction of the twin towers was a terrible crime. But, it was nine years ago and it's time to get some distance and some perspective. In the same month that those 3,000 people died, the same number of Americans died of the flu. More than 3,000 died from complications associated with aspirin in 2001. More Americans were killed by other Americans in domestic disputes, drug deals gone wrong, hunting accidents, robberies, muggings, freeway accidents, and car-jackings than were killed by terrorists by far. A hundred times more Americans die each year from alcohol addiction. We could save more American lives by enforcing seat-belt laws and speeding laws than by installing underpants x-ray machines in our airports. Terrorists are criminals and terrorism is a crime, not a war. We have much bigger problems than terrorism. Lots bigger.

    Let's build a tasteful monument to the office workers who died trying to escape the building. Let's build a slightly larger monument to the police and firemen who were running INTO the building to save them. Then let's move on. The past is the past.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
    • Frogist

      Terry, I think you are being a bit naive about this topic. People died of the flu and from car accidents yes, but this was an attack on the US mainland which is something that has never occured in the history of the nation. It is unfair and I think unjust to simply say the past is the past. Especially since the ramifications of that event are still occurring today. I do agree that we need a tasteful monumet to those who died. And we also need to tone down the rhetoric. But I doubt we can ever look at Sept 11th without a sense of loss. This is why the arguments about it being too soon are ridiculous. There is never going to be a time when building this center feels good. You can't ask a group of people to wait indefinitely for their rights. The lesson we must learn is doing the right thing does not always feel good, but that doesn't make it any less right.

      August 26, 2010 at 10:11 am |
  7. YoMamma14

    Muslims are peaceful people. Have you ever actually met or spoken to one? I have many friends that are true Muslims and I've gone to their Iftar dinners. The extremists are the ones we need to worry about. What amazes me, is that most people that call themselves Christians are the ones showing and displaying all the hatred towards people of Muslim descent...the true Muslim people would never do that. The extremists, they do and don't care. There is a big difference. WAKE up people!

    I think Bloomberg was great, it shouldn't matter if they are Muslim or not. If they wish to build a house of prayer, why does it matter. It's not like it will be called Jihad or House of Al-Qaeda! or people armed with AK47's will line the streets and entry ways. Descent people do not spew hatred of any race, and it's sad that so many so called Christians do...maybe you all need to go back to bible school and learn about compassion and truth.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
  8. JohnUtah

    All these people who say this is Hallowed ground are so ignorant, it is not in Ground Zero it is blocks ways. That block has porn shops and Liquor shops how hallowed can it be LOL. That place has been used as a prayer for years, did all these muslim bashers realize this? The only people who are against this project are the ones who have hatred in their hearts for fellow muslims, deep inside of them they realize this Muslims are the most peaceful people on earth just because the media CONSTANTLY potrays a few bad apples the public become disillusioned. Anybody who knows a fellow muslim knows what kind of character and people they are. The people who dont know any muslim, you know the old phrase you fear what you dont know.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
  9. John

    You missed in the 10 Commandments where it says Thou Shalt Not (Unless Somebody Else Does)

    August 25, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
  10. Infantryman

    What a bunch of sheep. Its amusing that most of you have never fought overseas but sit safely at home in your sandals and EZ Chairs thinking you know what you are talking about. Why dont you talk about this Imam's recorded (on tape) statement about the US having more innocent Muslim blood on its hands then Al Qaeda. Or discuss the fact he has said openly that we (the US) was complicit in 9/11. Why dont you research where they got the NAME for their group (Look up Caliphate of Cordoba). The left thinks its inappropriate to ask for disclosure on who is funding this but when a group AGAINST it started an ad campaign the left immediately began 'investigating' the source of funding for the campaign. Theres already an Islamic Cultural Center in Manhattan if Cordoba were really about peace and healing why didnt they build a multi FAITH center that represented everyone killed. The leftards also say that this site is 60 feet away from Ground Zero. More BS. The landing gear hit this building and there were remains recovered there. But keep drinking the Kool Aid. You clowns are like those idiots on top of the Capitol Records building in the movie Independence Day waving your welcome signs. You dont have a clue because the vast majority of you have no clue about how our enemies work. How could you? Your butts are glued safely to your recliners. It wont be long before you come crying to us again to save you and your self righteous pseudo intellectual companions. Yes, there are good muslims in the world. Ive worked and served with many and some are good friends and THEY think this is a bad idea. @ Tia. The reason you dont see muslims speaking out against terrorism is that relatively few DO. Thats a fact. Draw a picture of the prophet and you get mass protests and murder threats worldwide. Destroy the World Trade Center and you get dancing in the streets. The FACT is that muslims refuse to hold large scale protests against fellow muslims and if they DID you can be sure that the left minded media would be all over it. Theyd love to put that out there but theres NOTHING TO SHOW. You in the left are sensitive little creatures that have nothing rational to your arguments so every time some disagrees with you and cites facts you run to your drawer and pull out your race card or your bigotry card or your hate card because your arguments are devoid of critical thinking or facts. Where were all you libtards when the ACLU was suing to have a WW1 Memorial Cross removed from the Mojave because one little miscreant from Oregon was 'offended'? Where was your outrage? Where's your religious tolerance when Christians oppose things like gay marriage (also opposed by muslims)? There is none. A Christian that doesnt agree with you is a hate monger. Hypocrites.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
    • Naveed

      Hate monger, Love 11-B P30...

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

      That's about the size of it, Infantryman. The sad fact is that even though these nancy-boys have been glued to their recliners in their sheltered little world while people like us took bullets and shrapnel; they don't care about us. They really don't. They don't care how far we go to defend our country and her People. They care more about those who would destroy them, because that makes them seem "progressive" and "tolerant". We really should ship all of the people in America that feel that way to one place and then tell them to fend for themselves... we're done bleeding for the bleeding hearts.

      August 25, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
    • Frogist

      In all honesty True American and Infantryman, I don't want you bleeding for America. You are representing your country when you go to war. And it sickens me to think that people who are so small minded and filled with bittrness are carrying the flag of this country. You supposedly fought for freedom without understanding of what that is. Seems like you cared more about the fighting than the freedom. There are soldiers out there who are muslim and American and fighting at your side. Yet you would deny them their rights. I'm glad you are not fighting for me.

      August 25, 2010 at 8:59 pm |
  11. Jeff A.

    I love these genius examples of " when I drive by a church, all I see are pedophiles" arguments. Muslim's all over the world are striving for Sharia law, where it is made up as you go along. The radicals Muslims are out of control all over the world, ex:Mogadishu, and we have pin heads like Bloomberg raising up the Islamic flag. My message to Bloomberg is, you are being paid to run up the American flag, not the Islamic one. You let in the moderates, then the radical youth will finish the job, as is happening all over the world. They can not control themselves, their youth, their radicals, so until they get their s%^it together, go away, their ideology runs amok according to who is the nastiest Muslim, what is wrong with that picture ?? You will have Muslim clerics deciding what is and what is not acceptable to Shari law. Welcome to your future fellow Americans, the bleeding heart liberals are opening the screen door, and letting in the bugs that will eventually kill your way of life, your freedom, democracy. Let them pray, let them multiply, let them do what they want, in their Country I say. There is no room for Islam, for Sharia, in America. We already have laws and rules, we don't need any more thank you very much.That is not bigotry, that is reality. Maybe we should have Bloomberg go over to Mogadishu, and clean up the entrails, and body parts of the vivtims of radical Islam, cause obviously he missed the opportunity in New York city in 9/11. Try to start your own laws, and culture in America, just try, and you end up a dead patriotic American like Waco Texas.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
    • sialm is messed up

      Well said! Also, Mohammed was a war lord who killed many with his own hands, had sex with children, including his cousin's daughters, traded slaves and raped them, was a racist and anti-semite. This is the person muslims worship. It's one big joke.

      August 25, 2010 at 2:36 pm |
    • Frogist

      LOL! You're funny!

      August 25, 2010 at 8:53 pm |
  12. TIMOTHY

    1But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:

    2That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.

    3The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

    4That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

    5To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

    6Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.

    7In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,

    8Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.

    9Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again;

    10Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.

    11For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

    12Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

    13Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

    14Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

    15These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
    • verify

      @Timothy,

      Here are some more old quotations... of equal relevance as yours.

      A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.
      Aesop

      A doubtful friend is worse than a certain enemy. Let a man be one thing or the other, and we then know how to meet him.
      Aesop

      A liar will not be believed, even when he speaks the truth.
      Aesop

      Adventure is worthwhile.
      Aesop

      Affairs are easier of entrance than of exit; and it is but common prudence to see our way out before we venture in.
      Aesop

      After all is said and done, more is said than done.
      Aesop

      Any excuse will serve a tyrant.
      Aesop

      Appearances are often deceiving.
      Aesop

      Be content with your lot; one cannot be first in everything.
      Aesop

      Better be wise by the misfortunes of others than by your own.
      Aesop

      Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow.
      Aesop

      Beware that you do not lose the substance by grasping at the shadow.
      Aesop

      Destroy the seed of evil, or it will grow up to your ruin.
      Aesop

      Do not count your chickens before they are hatched.
      Aesop

      Don't let your special character and values, the secret that you know and no one else does, the truth – don't let that get swallowed up by the great chewing complacency.
      Aesop

      Every truth has two sides; it is as well to look at both, before we commit ourselves to either.
      Aesop

      Example is the best precept.
      Aesop

      Familiarity breeds contempt.
      Aesop

      Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.
      Aesop

      He that always gives way to others will end in having no principles of his own.
      Aesop

      Etc., Etc., Etc.

      August 25, 2010 at 2:44 pm |
    • verify

      @Timothy,

      Here are some more old quotes ... of similar relevance / non-relevance as yours:

      A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.
      Aesop

      A doubtful friend is worse than a certain enemy. Let a man be one thing or the other, and we then know how to meet him.
      Aesop

      A liar will not be believed, even when he speaks the truth.
      Aesop

      Adventure is worthwhile.
      Aesop

      Affairs are easier of entrance than of exit; and it is but common prudence to see our way out before we venture in.
      Aesop

      After all is said and done, more is said than done.
      Aesop

      Any excuse will serve a tyrant.
      Aesop

      Appearances are often deceiving.
      Aesop

      Be content with your lot; one cannot be first in everything.
      Aesop

      Better be wise by the misfortunes of others than by your own.
      Aesop

      Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow.
      Aesop

      Beware that you do not lose the substance by grasping at the shadow.
      Aesop

      Destroy the seed of evil, or it will grow up to your ruin.
      Aesop

      Do not count your chickens before they are hatched.
      Aesop

      Don't let your special character and values, the secret that you know and no one else does, the truth – don't let that get swallowed up by the great chewing complacency.
      Aesop

      Every truth has two sides; it is as well to look at both, before we commit ourselves to either.
      Aesop

      Example is the best precept.
      Aesop

      Familiarity breeds contempt.
      Aesop

      Grat!tude is the sign of noble souls.
      Aesop

      He that always gives way to others will end in having no principles of his own.
      Aesop

      Etc. etc., etc.

      August 25, 2010 at 2:50 pm |
  13. tom

    Only about 1/3 of Americans believe that building this mosque is the right thing.
    Only about 1/3 of Amercians believe that TARP was started under Bush.
    Coincidence? Absolutely not.
    ...and what this means is that 2/3 of Americans are bigotted, ignorant and afraid.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
  14. Dominic

    I am very proud of our Mayor for his courage on this issue. This is what real leadership looks like.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
    • BLOOMBERG IS A SHAME

      I WOULDN'T CALL THAT LEADERSHIP. IT'S TREASON. HE HAS TO DO WHAT THE PEOPLE WHO ELECTED HIM WANT HIM TO DO WHICH IS OPPOSE THE MOSQUE. HE IGNORES THE PEOPLE'S WILL. BLOOMBERG WILL NEVER BE RE-ELECTED.

      August 25, 2010 at 2:33 pm |
    • WORST MAYOR EVER

      I WOULDN'T CALL THAT LEADERSHIP. IT'S TREASON. HE HAS TO DO WHAT THE PEOPLE WHO ELECTED HIM WANT HIM TO DO WHICH IS OPPOSE THE MOSQUE. HE IGNORES THE PEOPLE'S WILL. BLOOMBERG WILL NEVER BE RE-ELECTED.

      August 25, 2010 at 2:34 pm |
  15. Steve

    Bloomberg has cojones. Way to go! He is making Obama look like a minnie me!

    I am a Muslim American, and I would like to remind all the bigots and racists out there that, if they don't like the most idea to bite me! idiots.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
  16. AKR

    Good for Bloomberg! As a New Yorker, I didn't vote for him, but am impressed by him and his unwavering belief in the Constitution. And for all your bigots on this board, we don't need your worthless opinion! This is an issue for New Yorkers only and do without the inflammatory and ignorant comments from those outside of New York city. Just yesterday, some drunk bigot from upstate New York stabbed an innocent NY cabbie just because of his faith! Very scary.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
  17. tk

    I posted a reply indicating that hatred is the cause of fear. I believe it is the downfall of open, moralistic and advanced societies as well. Fear is cripling and fear drives sane people to irrational and insane actions. A great deal of what is being written hear is laced with crippling fear.

    Fear of another religion is what is driving the hatred in this debate. Should we hate all Germans for Hitler's actions? Why do we hate all Muslims for Al Qaeda's actions. For those saying the Quoran commands killing, they are making a mockery of the Islamic faith, similar to what the Al Qaeda, Hamas terrorists are doing to Islam. The Quoran requires the killing of infidels that persecute and attack and violate. There is nowhere it says that Jews and Christians are infidels. This is the radical religious view, which is being pushed on weak willed individuals similarto the way Naziism was pushed to many Germans.

    Should we continue to hate the Japanese because a mad man at the helm decided to bomb Pearl Harbbor, yet we round up every asian and interned them in camps. Is this what this what you fear mongers are looking to accomplish? Round up all Arabs, regardless of religious faith and lock them up? If you say yes, take caution as the next radical group that strikes out at the U.S. may be part of your sect (religion, nationality, etc.)

    Unless you are a Native American you are not originally from here. This country was founded on the very principle that people were tired of religious intolerance and other intolerances from the King of England and wanted freedom to pursue their beliefs. Now we want to quash certain liberties that our fore fathers kept dear (LIFE, LIBERTY and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS)? Religious observance falls under pursuit of happiness.

    If we begin to squash on basic rights, where does it end? Remember if hatred and intolerance wins, no one wins. I say if there is no reason the Mosque should be built on the site, other than it makes some uneasy and they do not like Muslims, then build the Mosque, it does not denegrate or belittle what occurred at Ground Zero and what Ground Zero stands for.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:24 pm |
  18. Rick McDaniel

    Some of us are not affiliated with any religion.......nor are we foolish enough to think the issue of the site for this mosque is a religious freedom issue. The issue is what site is appropriate, and what site is not. Pure and simple.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
  19. Denise

    It amazes me how as long as we agree with anything/everything we are accepted and it's OK, that is if in your mind you approve it. But disagree and you are anti American. Hmmm, let see, that is my American freedom to disagree or agree, remember – that is why you are in America. I am American and proud of it and I have absolutely no reservation in taking a stand to say that the mosque "should not" be built at or near the site of the World Trade Center. I find it on the cold side and most uncaring of those who continue to pursue it. Think about it – really !!!

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

      And since when do feelings override rights? If you don't like it being there go ahead and say so. That's your right to free speech. but don't prevent it from being built. That is not your right.

      August 25, 2010 at 8:47 pm |
  20. CathyC

    We Christians understand that the Muslims have the RIGHT to build near Ground Zero. What the Muslims don't underand is the RESPECT for those 3000+ lives taken at the hands of their fellow Muslims.Let them rest in peace. Build in another burrough.

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

      it's not about location, No, Muslims have always been prevented from building their places of worship in places like Virginia,Tennessee. it's time for the whole world to see the "religious freedom" that exist here. Muslims died on 911, and some of the first responders on 911 are muslims (some dies rescuing people). And some of the soldiers fighting for this great country in iraq and Afghanistan are muslims

      August 25, 2010 at 1:32 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.