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. Freaks

    What a bunch of haters. I presume that if my group was hated against and treated so much like crap that I might think of retaliation.............oh wait...................hmmmmmmmmmm, and I wonder why ppl resort to killings and bombings? Just think of it as a large punch in the face. Its my party and you are not invited! Sucka!

    August 25, 2010 at 3:34 pm |
  2. Matt

    It's ludicrous to believe that Muslims worship the God of Abraham, seeing as how Ishmael and his servant mother were exiled from Abraham's family, in effect paving the way for Islam. Also, Allah is a god who calls for violence against "the infidels." I personally find it insulting and ridiculous to see how conditioned Americans have become to take "tolerance" to a whole new, asinine level by compromising our country's values and the Christian faith. What is this world coming to? I'd say nuclear apocalypse isn't too far off, seeing as how the Jews and Muslims will never cease disputing rights to Israel; this mosque is just another step in the grand scheme of things.

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

      Yes, Matt, it is high time to end belief in ALL of the god myths.

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

      Yes, Matt- exactly. It is a historical fact that when Muslims conquer a site of the "infidel", they build a Mosque to stand on the site of a victory. Matt gets this- where are your minds, folks!?! Also, his use of the lower case g is right-on.

      August 25, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
  3. JohnBissell

    I'm Pro Mosque! I'm a Mickey Mosqueateer!

    August 25, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
  4. Marc

    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. Speak for yourself Bloomberg.

    August 25, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
  5. qotu

    Take a look at what other countries say and feel about their Islamic population and then come and tell me what a good idea this is for America.

    August 25, 2010 at 3:29 pm |


    August 25, 2010 at 3:29 pm |
  7. HotCoffee

    You know, quite a few of these posts make me sad to be an American. I'm a Christian, I used to be a Youth Minister, but I look at the people yelling how horrible this is, how they are Christians and can't stand for this, Christian-nation, etc. What happened to judge not lest you be judged? What about loving your neighbor? There wasn't anything exclusionary in his words. It is what it is. The problem comes from people who feel the need to qualify what Jesus said so that they twist it into the meaning that they want. You cannot shoehorn your saviors words this way. You've become so disillusioned as to what his message was, and it makes me very sad. He may not condone the construction, but he would also not be vile and full of hatred. For me, it simply rests on the matter of the separation of church and state. Law of the land (1st Amendment in this case) states that people have freedom of religion. And property rights here would conclude they are free to build a mosque if they want. Sure, you are entitled to your freedom of speech, but if you aren't actually going to act like what you claim to be, then lived Christianity out of the discussion, because its embarrassing.

    August 25, 2010 at 3:28 pm |
  8. harry from VT

    If you believe in the constitution and really understand what it means, you would completely agree with Mayor Bloomberg. I commend him for standing up for ANY Americans constitutional right. If you think otherwise, then outlawing GUNS will be next. Oh wait, all you hicks with gun racks will now get pissed. If you cant understand the logic, you have no business saying your a true American. Maybe we should outlaw falafel restaurants near the site as well.

    August 25, 2010 at 3:28 pm |
  9. JohnBissell

    Let's have Sharia right here in the Good Ole USA, stonings, cutting off of hands, lynching homosexuals, honor killings, suicide bombers, what's the problem people! Which way is Mecca!?

    August 25, 2010 at 3:27 pm |
  10. Tom, Long Beach, California

    many people will boycott New York if this is allowed to happen........not that you care but your economy will

    August 25, 2010 at 3:27 pm |
  11. Jean-Arthur

    An ancient native American warrior chief said once, "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer."

    August 25, 2010 at 3:26 pm |
  12. GodIsForImbeciles

    Prothero must be the most sniveling, ridiculous guest blogger on CNN. One wonders why they print this guy's tripe.

    August 25, 2010 at 3:26 pm |
  13. Jeff A.

    You have got to hand it to Islam. They have realized there are more ways then terror to take over New York City. It is not the terrorists that we have to fear, it is the muslims slipping in the back door !!

    August 25, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
  14. Tom, Long Beach, California

    what is happening to America....we have lost our spine and will fall just like the Roman Empire only 300+ years earlier......mosques can be built anywhere exceprt places where 3000+ Amercians were massacred by radical muslims.....sorry, there are exceptions
    I, for one, do not want to make the muslims happy and acknowledge to any of them that 9-11 was their victory........and ready to fight to the death to keep it so....are you with me or them?

    August 25, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
    • Jeff A.

      I'm with you Tom. I am from Canada, and when I said in the Globe and mail newpaper in Toronto that I was willing to die for our freedom, and a muslim at my door would be met with my friends Smith and Wesson, I was removed from the discussion, and labeled a radical, and possibly could be legally liable as a criminal. We are so social up here, we are turning into reatrds. It sounds like the US of A all of a sudden......... and Obama is social creep number one...........

      August 25, 2010 at 3:34 pm |
  15. danbeaches

    I do not think any religions account of righteousness has a basis in historic reality but that is just my opinion, what is becoming clear is this…mainstream moderates on all sides of the organized religion coin need to speak out to counter the mass misconception of their real personal values and morality (which I believe are decency and tolerance)… inflicted upon them by those who pin on the respective labels of legitimate doctrinal voice…which everyone knows they do not have. Simply put leave the demagogues to themselves and let the locals sort it out.

    August 25, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
  16. teremist

    Dear Mr. Bloomburg,
    You are deluding yourself sir, in the name of appeasement, and dragging down the constitution, and old glory with you.
    First appeasement, as a strategy, has always been an abysmal failure. Evil always assumes appeasement is weakness, and weakness must be exploited. Thus my theory, that it is more important to state an unpopular truth, then to "win" friends in the wrong places. WE who love AMERICA, must defend her from her enemies, even those at home, whether they be skinhead or islamic terrorists. STEP UP AMERICA, or you can be sure, you WILL BE STOMPED on. The Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom, are indeed, sacred. They do not extend to terrorist organizations, or cults, masquerading as religion. Allowing this islamic center to be built so close to ground zero, pours acid into wounds that are as deep, as the day that will live in infamy, December 7th. (Pearl Harbor.) Rest assured, this is a deliberate AFFRONT BY AMERICA'S enemies. Mr. Bloomburg, the truth is, this is not a time to play nice, but a time to fight hard, for America's core values. Please consider the following:
    The Politically Incorrect Truth of the Cult of Islam

    Islam offends me as a human being, and a woman. CNN, reports today, ( August 25, 2010,) that 59 female children, and 14 teachers, were poisoned, for having the audacity to go to school. A judge in Saudi Arabia, is even now seeking a medical facility willing to paralyze a man permanently in RETRIBUTION, for his injury to another. Islam supports be-headings and amputations, in the name of religion, and retribution. Islam gives men permission to enslave women, rape them, and kill them at will. You ask for tolerance, yet Islam is the least tolerant of all. Christians are not free nor equal in islamic cultures. The holocaust is still denied by islamics. Islam allows the barbaric practice of "female circumcision." It also allows very young girls to be forced into marriage to allow them to be raped, beaten and brutalized. Islam continues these cultural practices here in the United States. Girls and women are often prohibited from seeking medical attention, to prevent them from dishonoring their family. (By allowing an unrelated male to question and examine them.) They are prevented from pursuing education. In short they are ENSLAVED, in the land of the free! Yes Islam OFFENDS me to the core. It offended my country with terrorist attacks on American embassies, ships, and the WTC. It has been brazen in its support of such terrorism, supporting it financially, philosophically, and condoning it by utter silence, rather than outspoken condemnation.
    The false cry of bigotry, is no defense to the indefensible. There is no seed of bigotry, in the desire to prevent great evil, from overtaking our country. .......A bigot is someone who harbors hatred for a specific group of people WITHOUT cause..........the term does not apply to those who despise the cruelty, barbarism, slavery, rape of children and oppression of women, that is glorified by the CULT of ISLAM.
    I would remind you that in the bible it commands Christians, not to mingle with idolaters. I do not think Islam, which desires America's freedoms only when it suits them, (and not for the women and girls they regard as their property.) Has any place in the United States.

    August 25, 2010 at 3:24 pm |
  17. Andrew

    New York is the world's city. No one should be barred from any rights. As to why have the site in question be so close to the trade center site? Land on Manhattan doesn't come easy. I imagine that site was chosen because, quite simply, it was available. Now everyone shnt up and mind your own business and let people who live in NYC worry about what goes on in NYC.

    August 25, 2010 at 3:23 pm |
  18. Andrew

    New York is the world's city. No one should be barred from any rights. As to why have the site in question be so close to the trade center site? Land on Manhattan doesn't come easy. I imagine that site was chosen because, quite simply, it was available. Now everyone shut up and mind your own business and let people who live in NYC worry about what goes on in NYC.

    August 25, 2010 at 3:21 pm |
  19. Abe

    To those who think Muslims like to blow up people... They are criminals like many other criminals here in our own country, state and city. Murders happen by the minute, people killing other people. So do not pin point why Muslims do one thing? It happens everyday. Its wrong and murder just needs to come to an end.

    August 25, 2010 at 3:21 pm |
  20. Jerry - Florida

    Hey stupid, speak for your self and President NObama. I am NOT a Moslem!!!

    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.