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. Dolphinvet

    No Bloomberg, I'm NOT a muslim, nor will I EVER be a muslim. Somehow, I just can't get behind the beliefs that non-muslims are inferior to muslims, nor can I agree with women being inferior to men. And for some reason, islam's teachings that homosexuals, apostates, and blasphemers should be killed just doesn't sit well with me. Call me crazy, but the Quran's call for non-muslims to convert to islam, or be killed or pay jizya (poll tax) makes me think that this is not a religion of peace. I guess Bloomberg et al will just have to refer to me as a right wing extremist and a bigot for not believing in these things, and much much more about islam.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:22 pm |
  2. Jeff A.

    You can't yell "fire" in a theater because it is illegal to do so. Maybe you should try to understand that our rights exist within the scope of the law. The Muslim community in New York have done nothing illegal so why should their rights be taken away?

    Strange how there is no reply button to this message, but here goes. Omar, it is not what the Muslim community has done illegally that you should lose your rights, it is what you haven't done, which is, instead of abusing your rights that were given to you by freedom loving Americans as your answer to why a mosque should be built, but to say " Out of respect for the victims of the radical Islamic terrorists, we think that we can accomplish what we want, but elsewhere." Only in America can you claim the right to build a religious compound upon the debris field of victims of that very same religion that killed them, radicals albeit, but none the less, out of respect, out of compassion for those victims of the same religion I chose and am dead set against the radicals by not providing them a Mosque, after all, the radicals will be the first in line to pray their. Prove you are dead set against Radical Islam by not building a mosque, rather than raising a victory flag over the twin towers with Bloomberg's hand on the flagstaff..........

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

      @Jeff A:The only thing that not building a mosque proves is that you are not moslem. If you want to prove you are against radical islam, you promote moderate islam and welcome it into your community.

      Also there's no reply button because it is not the first post in that particular thread. Usually people just post their reply to the original poster but address it to the person they want.

      August 26, 2010 at 11:36 am |
  3. Marc

    Speak for yourself Bloomberg. Muslims aren't our friends, they're exploiting our weakness of always bending over backwards to accommodate everyone. In the Middle East they were dancing on the streets and giving out candy during 9/11. They want to do to us, the USA what they did to Indonesia a long time ago, convert by the sword. Let's face it, Muslims together with their Koran are a wicked combination, as witnessed over the centuries especially in recent times. Yes Christians had the crusaders etc. but the muslims thanks to their koran will forever live with the jungle mentality even in present times, and that doesn't bode well for peace loving Americans.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:20 pm |
  4. Reality

    And the solution? The Five Step Program to Deflaw Islam!!!!!
    A copy is attached:

    Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

    "1. Belief in Allah"

    aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your cleansing neurons.

    "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

    Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

    "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

    A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc.

    No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

    "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

    Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.
    Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

    Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

    "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) alone."

    Mohammed spent thirty days fasting in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

    Accept these five "cleansers" and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

    August 25, 2010 at 2:19 pm |
  5. K from AZ

    27. Getting tired of this attack on fundamental Christian tenets, by godless elitists, parading around as scholars or Christians: "beware of false prophets dressed as lambs but are inwardly ravenous wolves". Let's get this straight: the 'fundamental' beliefs of Christians are: (1) verbal & plenary inspiration of the Bible; (2) the divinity of Jesus; (3) the virgin birth & miracles; (4) that Jesus died for our (individual basis, no so-called collective salvation); and, (5) his resurrection & his future return. If you don't believe this, you are not a Christian, regardless of what you think.
    Now, Islam does not believe in the above, it believes in world-domination. Either, Islam is false or Christianity is false; they are mutually exclusive. Now, as a Christian, why should I listen to 'false prophets' like Prothero (scholar, of what)?

    August 25, 2010 at 2:19 pm |
    • Frogist

      @K from Az You left out the possibility that they are both false...

      August 26, 2010 at 11:27 am |
  6. Mike

    Let me understand ur point Deborah/KC, you think all people of all faiths, Jew and Christain, men, women and children will be allowed in Club Mosque? To swim in their pool or stroll their halls? I don't think so but I could be wrong. If you were living in KC on 9/11 you have no clue what it was like in NYC that day and the weeks and months following. Muslims did die on 9/11 they after all were fltying the planes.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:19 pm |

    Bloomberg you jerk, if Kennedy had been here, in NYC on 9/11/01, I doubt he'd be supporting this Mosque in this location. Bloomberg has no feelings for the families of those affected by 9/11. NYC is a big place, build it farther away that's all the people want, not, not at all.
    Mayor Giuliani was here, he lived it, felt it, and truly knows why this Mosque shouldn't be in this location.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:19 pm |
  8. Elizabeth

    Interesting concept, "Freedom of Religion". Interesting that all you hate mongers are trying to deny one of the freedoms this country was founded on to a group of people because they practice a religion you don't understand, And yet a good number of you support a Mormon candidate for president. Why dont you look up their bloody history and how they are sending missionairies all over the world trying to convert the masses to a religion that says Christ was in the US on some mountain in New York state. Look up the Mountian Meadow massacre or how 13 year old girls are married off to old men by a crazy pedofile. Or how about Christian Scientists, who deny their children life-saving medical procedures and the Jim Jones and the David Koreshes and the Moonies and better yet the Scientology space aliens that Tom Cruise and John Travolta believe in. All of this organized nonsense that people believe in in this country and you just decided that Muslims are the only ones that are violent and deserve your ire. What a bunch of hypocrits!!

    August 25, 2010 at 2:18 pm |
    • Reality


      Scroll up the page and read abou the terror road of Islam.

      August 25, 2010 at 3:07 pm |
    • rivirivi

      By your intelligent words I assume you will agree to travel to Mecca with me and to start building a couple of buildings, nothing big, just community centers for Catholics, Buddhists, Hinduism, and oh, let's not forget the Zen people- right in the middle of Mecca, Let's do it. It would be SO wonderful! Am sure the peaceful Islamists will not have not even a tiny weeny problem with that.

      August 25, 2010 at 4:31 pm |
    • Frogist

      @rivirivi If you can't even get behind building a community center on your own soil with the full backing of the consti-tution and only a little opposition, how will you ever manage going to a foreign land to build a church where no such consti-tutionally given rights may exist and the opposition of many?

      August 26, 2010 at 11:23 am |

    In that day, saith Jehovah, will I assemble that which is lame, and I will gather that which is driven away, and that which I have afflicted.

    Behold, at that time I will deal with all them that afflict thee and I will save that which is lame, and gather that which was driven away and I will make them a praise and a name, whose shame hath been in all the earth.

    And it shall come to pass in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem half of them toward the eastern sea, and half of them toward the western sea in summer and in winter shall it be.

    And Jehovah shall be King over all the earth in that day shall Jehovah be one, and his name one.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:18 pm |
  10. Shar


    August 25, 2010 at 2:18 pm |
  11. Rod

    WoW. Have you seen my country lately ? For the first 200 years of our country we would not have even mentioned this kind of non-sense. Just look at where we were, and where we are now. Which country do you want to live in ?
    First 200 years:
    1. 29 of the 52 signers of the declaration of independence attended seminary.
    2. The first congress appropriated money to pay for the distribution of Bibles to all public schools.
    3. Homosexuality & Sodomy was against the Law in ALL 50 states.
    4. John Adams said: "I have no King but Jesus."
    5. President Jefferson sent the Marines into Tripoli to stop the kidnapping & harm being done to Americans by muslims.
    1. The Trade center gets bombed and 3000 Americans are killed by muslims and we push islamic sensitivity training in our
    schools. Where are kids are taught about the 5 pillars of islam, and Jihad. Wha ?
    2. The Bible is tossed out of our schools and kids are taught about diversity, evolution, condoms, abortion, other life styles.
    3. Homosexuality and Gay marriage are being forced on us, and may soon be the law of the land.
    4. Our God has become our government, to provide all of our needs for us.
    5. If you have a gov't job or gov't contract, you are one of the haves, if not, you are one of the have nots.
    Jesus spoke of this age that we live in, one of perilous times, when that which is good would be called evil, and that which is evil would be called good. But he gave us an important promise about this time. Jesus: "Those days will be a perilous time, and unless those days were shortened, even the elect would be deceived, but for the sake of the elect, those days will be shortened." All these evils will last but a short time.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:17 pm |
  12. stephen douglas

    "... 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." ABOVE ALL OF THAT we are Americans. How many Muslims will put America first? Are they putting America first by insisiting a giant mosque at this location is a good idea? Soooo, the MAJORITY of AMERICANS see this mosque as a deliberate slap, an insult to most logical thinking Americans who would mostly agree that although the Muslims have a right to build a mosque at this location, it is morally and ethically off the charts wrong. Period. No constitutional issue here – It is all about sensitivities and respect. You know, like drawing cartoons of Muhammad, which many will recall have resulted in numerous murders world wide. So, in the Islamic world it is wrong to draw a stupid cartoon, but it is ok to murder over 3000 people and then build a structure that many will see as a monument to the murderers and their cohorts, who by the way will never face any justice whatsoever. You don't think nineteen alone were able to pay for and carry out the murders do you? There was a lot of money and logistical support from MUSLIMS in other parts of the world. However, there are Muslims who are against this location, but they won't speak out because they fear for their lives. So much for the religion of peace and tolerance. Muslims can go build a giant mosque anywhere else in the city or state of New York, or anywhere in the entire country. BUT, that location is where they are insisting because it has meaning, i.e., a victory. And anyone who supports it is a d-a-mn-ed fool. Totallly blind. Get your heads out of the sand or from whatever bodily orrifice it is stuck into. These people are shameless.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:17 pm |
  13. Lola

    Ever try to attend an Islamic center? Our local one has a very restrictive dress code for women. It is NOT an inclusive place.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:17 pm |
  14. FoolKiller

    "The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero". WHAT opinion??? All he does is parrot what someone said someone else said. Way to NOT go out on a limb... must be a graduate of the Obama school of equivocation..

    August 25, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
  15. Ronnie


    August 25, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
  16. Amin

    noBAMA ,

    Let's see if ALLAH is the moon God....Ok :

    Here is one chapter of the Koran describing ALLAH:

    "Allah! There is no god but He – the Living, The Self-subsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him Nor Sleep. His are all things In the heavens and on earth. Who is there can intercede In His presence except As he permitteth? He knoweth What (appeareth to His creatures As) Before or After or Behind them. Nor shall they compass Aught of his knowledge Except as He willeth. His throne doth extend Over the heavens And on earth, and He feeleth No fatigue in guarding And preserving them, For He is the Most High. The Supreme (in glory)."
    [Surah al-Baqarah 2: 255]

    Do you still think that's the moon ? 🙂 We all know the moon is the moon ....your ancestors even used to worship it and they have chosen a day to honor it and that's MONDAY...


    Are you from Kentucky or something ? 🙂 not that I am saying all Kentuckians are dumb 🙂

    August 25, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
    • Naveed

      Great post.... Nobama has left the building.. his trunup truck was about to get a parking ticket..

      August 25, 2010 at 3:08 pm |

    In that day, saith Jehovah, will I assemble that which is lame, and I will gather that which is driven away, and that which I have afflicted.

    Behold, at that time I will deal with all them that afflict thee and I will save that which is lame, and gather that which was driven away and I will make them a praise and a name, whose shame hath been in all the earth.

    And it shall come to pass in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem half of them toward the eastern sea, and half of them toward the western sea in summer and in winter shall it be.

    And Jehovah shall be King over all the earth in that day shall Jehovah be one, and his name one.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
    • rivirivi

      "That day, when stupid humans realize that it is not good to say you love one limitless God yet hate the other groups of humans he has made. That day when stupid humans realize that they are all together swimming in an infinite soup of energy, that day He will smile. That day, when stupid humans realize that their only job was to keep each other happy, comfortable, live in peace with one another. That day, we will all smile in peace."

      August 25, 2010 at 4:27 pm |
  18. James Akbar

    Bloomberg for Iman !

    August 25, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
  19. Reality

    And what do we see on the koranic-driven, terror road of Islam????

    Acts of contemporary, koranic-driven terror speak much louder than your words:

    1a) 179 killed in Mumbai/Bombay, 290 injured

    1b) Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh

    2) 9/11, 3000 mostly US citizens, 1000’s injured

    3) The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US Troops killed in action, 3,481 and 924 died in non-combat, 97,172 – 106,047 Iraqi civilians killed as of 8/10/2010

    4) Kenya- In Nairobi, about 212 people were killed and an estimated 4000 injured; in Dar es Salaam, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85.[2]

    5) Bali-in 2002-killing 202 people, 164 of whom were foreign nationals, and 38 Indonesian citizens. A further 209 people were injured.

    6) Bali in 2005- Twenty people were killed, and 129 people were injured by three bombers who killed themselves in the attacks.

    7) Spain in 2004- killing 191 people and wounding 2,050.

    8. UK in 2005- The bombings killed 52 commuters and the four radical Islamic suicide bombers, injured 700.

    9) The execution of an eloping couple in Afghanistan on 04/15/2009 by the Taliban.

    10) Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan: US troops killed in action 1,116 killed in action, 902killed in non-combat situations as of 08/10/2010. 40,000 Afghan civilians have been killed due to the dark age, koranic-driven terror of the Taliban.

    11) The killing of 13 citizen soldiers at Ft. Hood by a follower of the koran.

    12) 38 Russian citizens killed on March 29, 2010 by Muslim women suicide bombers.

    13) The May 28, 2010 attack on a Islamic religious minority in Pakistan, which have left 98 dead,

    14) Lockerbie is known internationally as the site where, on 21 December 1988, the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 crashed as a result of a terrorist bomb. In the United Kingdom the event is referred to as the Lockerbie disaster, the Lockerbie bombing, or simply Lockerbie. Eleven townspeople were killed in Sherwood Crescent, where the plane's wings and fuel tanks plummeted in a fiery explosion, destroying several houses and leaving a huge crater, with debris causing damage to a number of buildings nearby. The 270 fatalities (259 on the plane, 11 in Lockerbie) were citizens of 21 nations

    15) Followed by the daily suicide and/or roadside and/or mosque bombings every day in the terror world of Islam.

    And what do the terror roads look like over the last 70 years:

    Operation Iraqi Freedom- The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US Troops killed in action, 3,481 and 924 died in non-combat, 97,172 – 106,047 Iraqi civilians killed as of 8/10/2010

    – Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan: US troops 1,116 killed in action, 902 killed in non-combat situations as of 08/10/2010. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror,

    – Sa-dd-am, his sons and major he-nchmen have been deleted. Sa-dd-am's bravado about WMD was one of his major mistakes. Kuwait was saved.

    – Iran is being been contained. (beside containing the Sunni-Shiite civil war in Baghdad, that is the main reason we are in Iraq. And yes, essential oil continues to flow from the region.)

    – Libya has become almost civil. Recently Libya agreed to pay $1.5 billion to the victims of their terrorist activities. Apparently this new reality from an Islamic country has upset OBL and his “cra-zies” as they have thre-atened Libya. OBL sure is a di-sgrace to the world especially the Moslem world!!! Or is he???

    – North Korea is still u-ncivil but is contained.

    – Northern Ireland is finally at peace.

    – The Jews and Palestinians are being separated by walls. Hopefully the walls will follow the 1948 UN accords. Unfortunately the Annapolis Peace Conference was not successful. And unfortunately the recent events in Gaza has put this situation back to “squ-are one”. And this significant stupidity is driven by the mythical foundations of both religions!!!

    – Bin La-d-en has been cornered under a rock in Western Pakistan since 9/11.

    – Fa-na–tical Islam has basically been contained to the Middle East but a wall between India and Pakistan would be a plus for world peace. Ditto for a wall between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    – Timothy McVeigh was exe-cuted. Terry Nichols will follow soon.

    – Eric Ru-dolph is spending three life terms in pri-son with no par-ole.

    – Jim Jones, David Koresh, Kaczynski, the "nuns" from Rwanda, and the KKK were all dealt with and either eliminated themselves or are being punished.

    – Islamic Sudan, Dar-fur and So-malia are still terror hot spots.

    – The terror and tor-ture of Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo and Kuwait were ended by the proper application of the military forces of the USA and her freedom-loving friends. Ra-dovan Karadzic was finally captured on 7/23/08 and is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the law of war – charges related to the 1992-1995 civil war that followed Bosnia-Herzegovina's secession from Yugoslavia.

    – And of course the bloody terror brought about the Ja-panese, Na-zis and Co-mmunists was with great difficulty eliminated by the good guys.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
  20. Andy C.

    How many of you would be willing to revoke the Bill of Rights to prevent this Mosque from being built? (a survey)

    August 25, 2010 at 2:14 pm |
    • Lola

      The Bill of Rights says you can build anything anywhere?? Someone needs to explain that to my HOA then. But, I don't have the backing of Saudi Arabia and the $100M.

      August 25, 2010 at 2:19 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.