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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. YoMamma14

    Lucy, I don't take the Lords name in vain...I wasn't using his name to praise him, I was merely using a term to show how ignorant most so called "Christians" on here are acting. I am Christian, so I don't take His name in vain.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:05 pm |
    • rivirivi

      Get off the righteous horse. Jesus wouldn't care less because he was extremely intelligent, if you say his name over and over "in vain" – same for God,Allah,Dieu,The Max, The Limitless, Inti, – It is not important! what is important is to choose the best decisions as to help one another achieve happiness and live in peace.
      Signed: GOD and JESUS.

      August 25, 2010 at 3:24 pm |
  2. ISLAM is backward

    I strongly believe islamic immigration should be stopped. I wonder how we suddenly have so many of them here, I doubt they are all refugees or highly skilled. Or is it because our president is a closet muslim?

    August 25, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
    • RBG

      HOW ABOUT ILLEGAL ALIENS
      ITS TIME TO SECURE THE BORDERS PERIOD
      AND BY THE WAY, WHEN DID SPANISH BECOME THE 2ND "OFFICIAL" LANGUAGE OF THE US

      August 25, 2010 at 4:15 pm |
    • Frogist

      Wow... racist much?

      August 26, 2010 at 11:01 am |
  3. Steve

    The vast majority of Muslims are peaceful and find the actions of Islamic terrorists both foreign and horrific, we shouldn't alienate those people or give their youth a very good reason to distrust this America. This is a nation of immigrants and it is the contribution of every immigrant that makes us the country we are today.
    More importantly freedom of religion and separation of the church and state is one of the pillars of this country. Do you really hate all Muslims? If so I'm guessing you don't know many Muslims personally or don't realize many people you work and deal with on a daily basis are Muslim. Get a grip on your yourselves, terrorist leaders use any and all means to control those people around them it so happens perverted teachings of Islam are a tool they are able to use, this ignorant hate campaign only helps them

    August 25, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
  4. Christie

    The headline says Bloomberg says we are all muslims. Where in the article did he say that?
    He said we are all Jews and Christians and Muslims.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:03 pm |
  5. Jeff A.

    wvlady62, your comments, although hard hitting, are right on, and shocking to some . Do you, or any body else here, think that those statements are surprising to Muslims ears ?? If the answer to that is yes, you have just won the naivety gold medal !!

    August 25, 2010 at 2:03 pm |
  6. Tony L

    Thank you, Mayor Bloomberg. I am impressed by your clear statement on this issue. You are a true AMERICAN. You have shown the leadership and guts needed in this nation right now. I will vote for you because you have shown leadership and a true understanding of being an American with values. You have also shown your moderation on other issues to move the country forward instead of extremist Repubs and Dems. Your leadership is well appreciated.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:03 pm |
  7. Don

    Can't be worse than we've already got. On top of that, it would be just switching one Muslim for another.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:03 pm |
  8. Chuck

    No place for sharia law in this country. If it is so bad here go live there! Look what dos to the kids in Beslan Russia...sick!

    August 25, 2010 at 2:03 pm |
  9. Kent

    "each with an equal right to worship and pray where we choose"
    Except in schools.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:02 pm |
    • ISLAM IS NOT A RELIGION

      THIS DOESN'T APPLY TO TOTALITARIAN IDEOLOGIES LIKE, FASCISM OR ISLAM. ISLAM IS NOT A RELIGION. IT CAN THUS BE DECLARED ILLEGAL.

      August 25, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
  10. noBama

    Naveed = big fail. Allah is the moon god.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:02 pm |
    • Naveed

      Hate monger!

      August 25, 2010 at 3:00 pm |
    • MOHMAMMED WAS A MURDERER

      ALLAH IS THE MOON GOD. AND MOHAMMED WAS A PEDOPHILE, MURDERER, RAPIST, LIAR, SLAVE TRADER AND OPPORTUNIST. DON'T BELIEVE ME? READ THE KORAN AND HADDITHS. ISLAM IS ONE GIGANTIC SCAM.

      August 25, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
  11. TIRED IF INTOLERANCE

    I am tired of islamic intolerance for non-muslims, islamic hate and backwardnes, islamic mass immigration and islamic anti-semitism. Bloomberg, get yourself a new job

    August 25, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
  12. Aaron

    What is up with the headline? It utterly misquotes Bloomberg and misleads the reader.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
  13. Citizen

    my question to all muslims: why is that behind every major attacks muslims are found guilty killing 100s of innocent ppl.

    construction of mosque is not a problem. the timing and place is wrong choice.

    if at all mosque is constructed near ground zero, its a big slap on all families who lost their dear ones in 9/11 blasts, each and every american who's tax indirectly spent on hunting osama and other terrorists across world and shame on american govt policies.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
    • readthink1

      answer to citizen read the Quran. The Quran and politics are different Islam was here before al-qaida and our war on terror and it will be here after al -qida. Islam is timeless never ending beautiful. Every religion has evil minded people but that does not mean that they speak for the religion. Our religion is concrete ,correct and peaceful and every person that reads and learns about our religion mostly converts and that's why Islam is the largest growing religion in the world.

      August 25, 2010 at 2:43 pm |
  14. Igor Kanin

    People – learn your history because otherwise you will repeat the same mistakes. History repeats itself. Learn about the fall of Constantinople!
    Two things made Constantinople fall into hands of muslims
    Then
    1) Constantinole let muslims buy Dardanelles Gun (the biggest gun available at that time)
    2) Somebody left a gate unlocked and muslims entered the city walls

    Now
    1) Iran is going nuclear and purchassing best military technology from Russia and North Korea
    2) Mayor Dhimmi Bloomberg is leaving the gate open for them to get in.

    The world will be a very different place to live in 20 years... be ready for Sharia!... be ready to pay Jizia!... look forward for 1000 years of Dhimmitude

    August 25, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
    • rivirivi

      Come On! give Americans some credit, It will never happen. Americans reign with common sense. American women will never agree to wear the non-entity garb. Islam is already imploding for lack of common sense. That is why the Imams and other religious leaders of Islam are desperate, they know the times to grab a 2 yr old from an orphanage and instill hate for other groups of humans their Allah supposedly also made are gone – I give it less than 10 years.

      August 25, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Igor Kanin. I find it interesting that people will quote history from hundreds of years ago to say why Islam is evil. And then say that Christianity is better cuz it has evolved away from violence. Aren't you having your cake and eating it too?

      August 26, 2010 at 10:57 am |
  15. wlx

    You're right they would never let us build a church near their mosques. Shouldn't we be bettter than that?

    August 25, 2010 at 2:00 pm |
  16. bb

    Peace loving muslims would think twice about building this mosque at Ground Zero.

    Just what is the agenda of this mosque building and who is behind it...perhaps, muslim extremists. Wake up America. Apathy and political correctness is going to bring you down harder than the fall of the World Trade Centers.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:00 pm |
  17. jim

    The article is a sham! It simp-ly is written for leftist. Bllomberg is an opportunist! His network is in Middle Eastern Countries. Don't be foolede by the leftist Bloomberg or the pathetic writer of the article. It is about COMPROMISE...ISLAM DOES NOT ALLOW SUCH>

    August 25, 2010 at 2:00 pm |
  18. Isror

    Funny...Everyone runs to the constitution when it fits their argument, but when it contradicts what they believe, its ignored and even trampled in some cases. True, the constitution protects the freedom of religion, but it also states that the government will make no special concessions to any one religion, and lately, it seems like thats all they (the government of NYC and the Obama Administration) have been doing.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:00 pm |
  19. Mojo

    Those ignorant folks here as well as Bloomberg should go to Europe and see how life is in a heavily muslim populated city. Tolerance in these places towards non-muslims is zero. Women who don't cover up get molested. Non-muslims who dare to eat pork or drink alcohol get beaten up. The police gets attacked with automatic guns. Yes that is the impact of islam too. And the bizarre thing is that there's still people that think muslim immigration can never be a problem Well, it can be a problem. And it will be a big one at that in the US in the coming years.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:59 pm |
    • rivirivi

      The Borg!

      August 25, 2010 at 3:21 pm |
    • Frogist

      Mojo, stop spreading lies.

      bb, I'm sorry but "perhaps, muslim extremists" is the best you got? How about their stated goal – to create a greater understanding between people. Is that so hard to believe that someone different from you might want to understand more about you and have you understand more about them? I would welcome this center so that muslims from around the world who might visit can see how good a people we are. It's harder for people to blow us up, if they like us.

      August 26, 2010 at 10:53 am |
  20. john holmes

    Who cares about this Mosque? They don't have the funds to build it anyway. All churches are a source of trouble, regardless of the faith observed. Christians and Catholics all have their moments of evil. We can always burn the place down later if they get too uppity.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:58 pm |
    • rivirivi

      Money problems? let me laugh! have you seen any websites on Kuwait? Big Oil/Car mafia ring a bell?

      August 25, 2010 at 3:19 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.