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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. Mtrlmngr

    Everyone talks about respect... We should all respect each other, building a mosque so close to the most extensive terrorist attack in the US that was perpetrated by extremist Muslims does not show respect for the non-muslims or the victims of this heinous crime.

    It is time for the Muslim community to show some respect and some morale fortitude and find another location for the Mosque. By insisting on building the Mosque it shows how ignorant the Muslim leaders are. They are either truly stupid or full of hate with a complete disregard for the feelings of others.

    Just because you have the right to do something does not mean that you should.

    Bloomberg's comments just show how out of touch he really is, he needs to get with the program and convince the projects leaders that building somewhere else is a really good idea.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:14 pm |
  2. Wren

    Islam is not the same as Christianity or Judaism......you have to go to the religious texts and not what people say. SOMETIMES Muslims talk peace, but their religious text instructs them to deceive to propogate Islam and their Sharia law. As a chemical engineer I have worked in Egypt, Kuwait, and Indonesia and I feel we do not need to encourage Islam in America. Again, you have to read the Qur'an....it is $2.99 on ebook at Barnes and Noble. For other information – the following clip is 3 things about Islam that you probably didn't know:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ib9rofXQl6w

    August 25, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
    • The Choobs

      One thing about bigotry that perhaps YOU don't know is that it's pretty easy to paint a picture of ALL Christianity as equally intolerant, archaic, violent, etc. The Bible, as I'm sure you know, is also full of heinous BS. It's what you DO with the Bible or Koran that counts, and the great majority of global Muslim–and ESPECIALLY American Muslims–reject your interpretation of Islam just as you no doubt reject my parallel to Christianity. Try talking to some Muslims instead of sharing this abstract and slanted distillation.

      August 25, 2010 at 3:02 pm |
    • Jean-Arthur

      Good luck dude. You just did what the Qu'ran forbids.

      August 25, 2010 at 3:38 pm |
    • sk

      this video is scary.. wonder if the concept of Taqqiya described here is what people like the Imam Rauf use to confuse and mislead the 'infidels'

      I cannot understand how a leader of a 'religion of peace' can trample over the feelings of the 911 victims and insist on building a mosque in the vicinity.. all the while claiming he is trying to build a bridge of 'healing""

      Unless of course he is compelled by his religion to mislead and deceive till his goal is accomplished...

      August 25, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
    • ScottK

      @ wren "I feel we do not need to encourage Islam in America"

      Well its one thing not to encourage something, its another thing to change our most basic constitutional rights of freedom of religion to oppose Islam. I guess engineers are not taught constitutional law. Fear and ignorance are America's true enemies. Fight them with education and by being fearless in the face of adversity, not hiding in your bunker and passing the fear and distrust of others on to our children. No one is asking you to teach your children Islam, just don't teach them hate, bigotry and prejudice and America, along with the rest of the world will be a better place.

      August 25, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
    • Pastor Fred Rochester

      Let me be very clear. What will everyone do about John 14:6 and Acts 4:12? Obviously you got a problem. Besides, Islam was created in 600 AD. That is 600 years after the resurrection of Christ. So, Islam has a problem. Oh. One more thing. "In the beginning was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God and the Word was God." So Islam has a major problem on it's hands.

      August 25, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
    • verify

      @Pastor,

      "What will everyone do about John 14:6 and Acts 4:12?"

      Pretty easy - Whichever of the Johns (if any) wrote "John" and Luke the Evangelist (or whoever wrote "Acts" in his name) simply made these quotes up to spread Christianity.

      August 25, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  3. scott

    NIMBY – Not in my backyard.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:12 pm |
  4. Nick

    If only science could ignore Christians the way Muslims are able to.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:12 pm |
  5. bb

    If we can keep Christian prayer out of schools, surely we can keep this mosque out of Ground Zero.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:12 pm |
  6. AR

    I agree completely with those who oppose a Islamic Center near Ground Zero. Similarly, blacks can live anywhere in the US they want so long as they don't move into my neighborhood. I mean aren't they all criminals? That is rational thinking.........

    August 25, 2010 at 2:12 pm |
  7. tom

    Recent American poll results

    60% can't find Iraq on a world map
    60% don't believe in Evolution
    50% don't know that Judaism is older than Christianity
    50% know the 3 Stooges names but not any Supreme Court justices
    40% believe that Obama's Health Plan has Death Panels
    40% belive that Saddam was complicit in 9/11
    20% believe that the sun revolves around the earth
    20% think Obama is a Muslim

    God help us

    August 25, 2010 at 2:12 pm |
    • FoolKiller

      50% know the 3 Stooges names but not any Supreme Court justices... I thought Obama had appointed at least 2 of the 3 Stooges to the Supreme Court...

      August 25, 2010 at 2:20 pm |
    • FoolKiller

      20% believe that the sun revolves around the earth... and at least 80% don't believe that the universe revolves around Obama. Go figure.

      August 25, 2010 at 2:22 pm |
    • tom

      FOOLKILLER:

      Your ignorant (and stupid) response helps to verify the 2:12 poll results.

      THANK YOU!

      August 25, 2010 at 2:42 pm |
    • rivirivi

      Let's ask the same questions to those Muslim girls who were: Poisoned, acid thrown in their faces, killed, beaten , stoned, only because they are girls and want to go to school. Let's ask them what do they know about World's History!

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

      LET'S DO A SIMILAR POLL IN AN ISLAMIC COUNTRY. GOD HELP ME EVEN MORE! LOOOL!

      August 25, 2010 at 4:11 pm |
  8. Tom

    I tip my hat to Mayor Bloomberg. I know their is a lot of emotion involved here, but the moral high ground is to protect the Constitution and the rights of ALL people. I believe the Community Center being built their is in bad taste, but I believe that a KKK rally is in bad taste as is burning of our flag, but respect the Constitution a lot more.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:11 pm |
  9. slickteig

    The Mayor is right, right, right!!!! We need to protect freedom of religion for all peace practicing religions: hateful fanatics are out and among all groups and they do not really represent most religions ( it's just a disguise) to cover up the evil people they really are, like the terrorists all over the planet. Yeah Mayor Bloomberg, keep fighting a peaceful battle!!!!

    August 25, 2010 at 2:09 pm |
    • Hypocrites galore on this board!

      All those people here posting here in support of islam are a joke. If they had read the koran and the haddiths then they would never ever call for tolerance for islam and their embarrassing little victory mosque. All you supporters support an intolerant ideology. Just look at how they treat non-muslims in their homelands if they still even exist. You folks are just a bunch of hypocrites and bigoted liars and extremists. You are not Americans. You disgust me.

      August 25, 2010 at 4:09 pm |
  10. Ken

    My Saviour was not a Muslim and died on a bloody cross for all who believe on Him. Neither does My Messiah occupy the White House.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:09 pm |
  11. YoMamma14

    Lucy, I do not take His name in vain..."jeebus" is a term referring to how ignorant people are acting, while remaining true to Christianity, by not using His name in vain.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:08 pm |
    • rivirivi

      By God, I hope Jesus has a good laugh at how ridiculous you all are.

      August 25, 2010 at 3:29 pm |
  12. Tired of HATE

    I am tired of islamic supremacy, anti-zionism and intollerance. Why do CNN and Bloomberg not speak up for the millions of non-muslims in muslim countries who have to struggle just because they are not muslims? This shows that Bloomberg and most of the people here on this board are hypocrites and bigots. No wonder they are muslims. They just follow their book of hate which calls for the killing of infidels. Just disgusting.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:08 pm |
  13. ekul

    Can he be anymore insulting????

    Some Americans are not any brand of religious hypocrite; WE THINK FOR OURSELVES!!!!!

    All you religious wackos are the source of misery and tyranny that threatens to engulf our world. Hypocrites all.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:07 pm |
  14. FoolKiller

    Not sure what the point of this article is, except to showcase Stephen Prothero's parroting skills. Of course, liberals all believe that if they say anything often enough, they will be believed. Fortunately that seems to work for them, because they have little else...

    August 25, 2010 at 2:07 pm |
    • Frogist

      LOL@Foolkiller... What's not to be believed? That our rights are important? Yeah... let's not believe that one. Founding fathers really got us with that one!

      August 26, 2010 at 11:07 am |
  15. the choobs

    History will show that those who lump ALL Muslims together with terrorists and despots will be seen to be as bigoted, myopic, and backward as those who said blacks are too lazy to work without white overlords. We can all agree that many parts of the Muslim world are, unfortunately, so lacking in education and opportunity that they are easily ruled by fundamentalist a'holes – but that is by no means a reflection of Islam, rather it's a reflection of econmic despair and lack of opportunity. American Muslims are no more dangerous than American Christians, Jews, or Hindus or whatever – which is to say, watch out for fundamentalist creeps EVERYWHERE, and leave everyone else free to practice their stupid religeons as they see fit. Allah/God/I belss America!!

    August 25, 2010 at 2:07 pm |
    • Ken

      BUT according to their Koran, if you are not Muslim you are an infidel. Period. How is THAT for "lumping" the rest of mankind together moron?

      August 25, 2010 at 2:11 pm |
    • The Choobs

      And according to the Bible and to many Christians, you're screwed if you don't accept Jesus. Sounds pretty similar to me.

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

      And the operations they impose to every woman at 12 are what? and the stones in their eyes are what? Are there any women judges in Sudan? Religion or creed, Faith or belief. It is wrong for humanity. Islam will implode because it lacks common sense- information now-a-days is so quick, humans of this world know it and Islam will implode and its numbers will go down, down, down and this concept is driving the radicals crazier.

      August 25, 2010 at 3:28 pm |
  16. Marti

    As a lifelong resident of NYC, I would like to state: we are really the "melting pot" of the world – my neighbors are of every single ethnic and religious group that exists. We all have the right to build houses of worship anywhere we feel like it. That being said and gotten out of the way, I would like to question the statements that I am hearing over and over again from all the supporters of this mosque. WHY does it HAVE to be there as Daisy Khan and every other other person involved in this? Everyone is saying that and not explaining why. Is it to build a bridge of goodwill?There are plenty of other locations downtown to choose from. They say they HAVE to build mosques everywhere, does that include spitting distance of the mass murder perpertrated in the name of their religion? Where is the funding for this coming from, another non-answer. I'm a little tired of the media trying to guilt me into agreeing with allowing the a huge in your face mosque at this location because its the constitutional thing to do. Bottom line, its not appropriate and it will do nothing to foster goodwill towards the muslim people. And if they are feeling persecuted, they should keep in mind that the Japanese-Americans who did no harm to anyone, were taken out of their homes and put into camps during World War II. Getting dirty looks at the neighborhood deli is a piece of cake compared to what they went through.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:06 pm |
  17. Yenta

    Kudos to Michael Bloomberg for having the courage to discuss what the Constitution is really all about–with no backtracking a la Obama.

    My hunch is that a lot of non Muslims are going to donate to that Community Center/Mosque because, at this point, it must be built to stand as a monument to religious tolerance in the US.

    I am old enough to remember hateful things said about Jews. Yesterday it was Hispanics. Today it is Muslims. I wonder who will be next.

    Thank you, Mayor Bloomberg!

    August 25, 2010 at 2:05 pm |
  18. Elminars

    Well done, those filled with vim vigor and hate. Your words are based from the terror you feel. Vile epithets issue forth from your mouth, dripping poison from your silver tongues.

    Terrorists mission is to affect the way we live, changing our beliefs and attitudes by fear. You're playing right into their hands. So again, I say well done. You terrified little lambs are letting the terrorists win.

    And every last individual who espouses the belief that the 1st Amendment should not matter here, your forefathers weep at what you've become.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:05 pm |
  19. Newyorker

    The bottom line is that it is in poor taste to build what is being proposed on that site and Bloomberg isn't helping matters with his sweeping generalizations on how New Yorkers feel about the subject.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:05 pm |
  20. bb

    Peace loving muslims would seek elsewhere to build their mosque other than at Ground Zero.

    Who is behind the building of this mosque and why this location...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 2:05 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.