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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. Shadtree

    BLOOMBERG FOR PRESIDENT!!!!....he is the kind of leader we need to see more of and less of Newt Gingrich and Rick Lazio

    August 25, 2010 at 3:46 pm |
    • Reality

      Scroll up the page and read all about the incidents of koranic-driven terror for the last 22 years. You might change your mind.

      August 25, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
  2. Papa Kilo 15er

    I think you bloggers need to hop over to the the front page of USA Today, and see more evidence of how peace loving the Muslims are. This mosque and others are no more than a meeting to place to plan, and execute violence against us from the inside. During my 3 deployments to Iraq, I learned firsthand how peace loving they are. I also met some of the coolest people on earth, and ALL of them wish they had the freedoms we have, and take fro granted. They're taught very early that ALL westerners are evil, and this is why they want the WORLD to convert ot Islam, or very simply die.

    August 25, 2010 at 3:46 pm |
  3. Amin

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    You have it all wrong, let's start with this but there are much more arguments that will enlighten you on the subject matter. We muslims don't call our women : Bitches, hores...and the majority of muslim women actually have the choice to choose to wear the veil ( if you go to a Catholic church women are asked to wear the veil....nuns are fully covered...even Marry the mother of Jesus used to cover and that is because these women know they are diamonds and you have to really deserve her to be able to see more and that is only gonna be her husband, and parents...If you have a precious and very expensive diamond in your possession don't tell me you would leave it outside of your house but you would leave your trash outside of your house...same thing with women especially and by the way this apply to men as well in Islam....A woman actually is the queen of her household, and when they are so aware of their status within her community, as more like a mother, she is committed to her husband , kids and parents exclusively ...she is busy taking care of her loved ones and enjoys it and happy so why you ask her to show you her cleavage if she doesn't think you deserve her....Muslim women are not any different than all women, they only like to wear the veil and not show their beauty to you...what? are you married to her to ask for seduction ???
    It's today's society that made women as toys for men, they are called bitches, they are asked to show more and more, and the more they show they called the coolest but they are never happy because of all the cheating, the non trusting issues etc...Women in Islam are happy because they are committed to their families and their husband the same....THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS...JUST LIKE THERE IS SNOOP DOG WHO TALK CRAP ABOUT WOMEN THERE ARE EXTREMISTS WHO HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH ISLAM WHO ABUSE WOMEN....but just check out your local newspaper and count how many rapes happen in your town you will get an idea ...or go to BET or MTV and was for yourself how women are treated.....
    Women in Islam have it all...they don't even have to work if they don't want to....and the child support laws for example are ....man...in Islam....those are the good laws....cuz women are covered no matter what ...because they are the jewelry and gold a man can have if he keeps himself straight and persevere for the sake of his family....Imagine all women find their princes that won't cheat and will do whatever to please them...that's the picture....

    you get your info from hate websites and FOX NEWS, it's like saying you are sick and consult a mechanic and not a doctor that could advise you better on how to get better. Same thing here, if you wanna know , then READ the KORAN and seek knowledge about something and not just assume nonsense...

    August 25, 2010 at 3:46 pm |
  4. e-rida

    Bloomberg for president!!

    August 25, 2010 at 3:45 pm |
  5. Kurious

    I thinI k it has been made quite clear that America does not want that mosque built near "Ground Zero". I don't understand why supposably thinking people don't get it. The bad seed of the Islamic religion (murders) reflect the whole religion of Islam. Just as it does in Christianity, if some wacko blows up a clinic then all Christians are right wing fanatics, right? What is good for one group of people is also good for the other. Islam is the only known religion that expects to win the world through violence, for them the sword is mightier than the word. They have become a virus that needs to be stopped. We fought against a religion of control when this country started and will continue to fight until the Muslims get it. Our constitution states that no religion is to be above any other, so Islam just better get in line or get out. It is about time that the people who are to do the work of the people (government) starts listening to us (the citizenry) and declare "Ground Zero" of the drawing board and find something else, maybe a floating island out in the middle of the Atlantic ocean!

    August 25, 2010 at 3:45 pm |
  6. harry from VT

    Its OK to hide behind the constitution when they want to take your guns away, but when it comes to religious freedom you cry foul. Don't contradict the constitution, support it. You people make it look like they will take over tomorrow. Your show of fear is appeasing the very people you are afraid of. Wake up.

    August 25, 2010 at 3:44 pm |
  7. Ron in Regina

    Where was Bloomberg when the government started (and continues!) to strip us of our rights and dignities, all in the name of security (from terrorists)? I can be strip searched at a dock, I must be x-rayed if I want to fly, my phone calls and emails are surreptitiously monitored, all in the name of our safety (from terrorists).

    I am NOT a Muslim. I could never belong to a religion that facilitates the 2nd century treatment of women. And make no mistake; the people who destroyed the WTC, the embassies in Africa, the marine barracks in Lebanon, and thousands of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan were Muslim. They weren't Jews and they weren't Christians.

    I am NOT a Muslim and I do not want to be associated in any way shape or form with the Muslim religion. I do NOT want a Mosque next to the WTC site. Do not use the word freedom and Muslim in the same sentence. Are Muslim women free, Bloomberg?

    Allowing that mosque to be built is capitulation to those who have no concept of freedom. It would be a stain on the entire non-Muslim world.

    August 25, 2010 at 3:44 pm |
  8. irememberseptII

    @naveed, the God I worship would never condone female genital mutilation, honor killings or discrimination against women.

    August 25, 2010 at 3:44 pm |
  9. Mike

    Screw that Liberal Bloomberg! I'm no Muslim and could care less about that perverted religion and those sicko's who practice it! They can eat -- and die!

    August 25, 2010 at 3:43 pm |
  10. rivirivi

    "Men are superior to women by Allah's design. A woman who is not obedient to her husband must be punished, abandoned and/or beaten. Allah gave women to men as the worst calamity." Kuran VI

    "When a woman fails to do her house chores her husband must enslave her, beat her, trade her for things and get marry again to other woman." King Hamurabi code – Babilonia (Iran) XVII AC

    August 25, 2010 at 3:42 pm |
  11. Rabbi Joel

    what is right is not always popular & what is popular is not always right

    build the mosque and use it to be a bridge to understanding and interfaith respect

    August 25, 2010 at 3:41 pm |
    • Reality

      Rabbi,

      Scroll up the page and read all about the incidents of koranic-driven terror for the last 22 years.

      August 25, 2010 at 4:01 pm |
    • RBG

      AS LONG AS NO SAUDI MONEY IS USED TO BUILD THIS CENTER. WE NEED TO KNOW WHERE EVERY PENNY IS COMING FROM TO BUILD THIS MOSQUE. WHY IS IMAN RAUF AND HIS WIFE NOT ANSWERING QUESTIONS ABOUT THE FUNDING?

      August 25, 2010 at 4:02 pm |
  12. Mark

    Ridiculous. We are not all Catholic (also known as pedophiles)!!!!

    August 25, 2010 at 3:41 pm |
  13. Rabbi David

    I can only conclude that the Mayor has #1. No further political ambitions-cause no amount of money is going to restore what was a benign opinion of him.#2. Never read Torah, so I'm at a loss as to how he can claim to be of Jewish ancestry because there is more to being Jewish than just saying your parents were.No where in Torah do you get this non sense this person is pushing.Again its taking a progresive agenda trying to wrap it in religion and mass market it to all people.But it never works because all people are NOT diverse they are individual diamonds in G-ds collection,not cogs in a machine to be programed with what big media,government or corporations want.I believe that Bloomberg is not Jewish by his actions and statements,which is fine,but this shell game of using your religion to peddle this world view is disgusting.

    August 25, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
  14. JohnBissell

    If we're all Muslims now can I stone my neighbor for using my parking spot?

    August 25, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
    • RBG

      ONLY IF HE OR SHE IS A ADULTER!!!!!!!!!

      August 25, 2010 at 4:06 pm |
  15. katie

    Please people! Get out of the city and breath some fresh air! Can't you see that these people have "hijacked" the Muslim faith and are using it against them and the people of the United States of America??? They will infiltrate our country and then wage Jihad against us. The writting is on the wall for those of us who can read and see thru the BS of the Liberals. Seriously, how much violence against us has to take place before you figure this out??? It is like the frog who stays in the pot while the water continues to get warmer and then boils to death. Well I feel the heat and got out of the pot!! I suggest the rest of you do the same.

    August 25, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
  16. Jennifer

    I still can't BELIEVE we are even having this discussion- that the plan was even proposed. I don't understand Bloomberg, but I do know that this has not strengthened American sentiment, but bolstered our enemies. All other countries watch how we react when challenged- much less attacked, and they see innumerable chances given (Iran), and little repercussions for provocations. So, what we're teaching, is that we're not now who we WERE, and we won't BE who we were intended to be to the world (Superpower). Btw, that Imam stated in an interview that murdering innocents was wrong. What he didn't say- was that the radical Muslims consider US the INFIDEL- and therefore NOT innocents. Check it out for yourself.

    August 25, 2010 at 3:38 pm |
  17. Cantweallgetalong

    @irememberseptII – Muslims don't discriminate against women. The mutilation you refer to happens in few places, some that that are not even muslim. Historically There have been instances where Christians mistreated/killed women.

    And to those that state that Muslims are trying to take over the world, you sound a lot like a certain dictator from WWII who said the same thing about Jews. Do you really want to be thought of the same as Hitler?

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

      From- Aya-an Hirsi Ali's autobiography, "Infidel".-

      "Thus begins the extraordinary story of a woman born into a family of desert nomads, circ-umcised as a child, educated by radical imams in Kenya and Saudi Arabia, taught to believe that if she uncovered her hair, terrible tragedies would ensue. It's a story that, with a few different twists, really could have led to a wretched life and a lonely death, as her grandmother warned. But instead, Hirsi Ali escaped - and transformed herself into an internationally renowned spokeswoman for the rights of Muslim women."

      "Some of the Saudi women in our neighborhood were regularly bea-ten by their husbands. You could hear them at night. Their scre-ams resounded across the courtyards. "No! Please! By Allah!"


      "The Pakistanis were Muslims but they too had castes. The Un-tou-chable girls, both Indian and Pakistani were darker skin. The others would not play with them because they were un-touc-hable. We thought that was funny because of course they were touc-hable: we tou-ched them see? but also horrifying to think of yourself as unt-ouchable, despicable to the human race."

      "Between October 2004 and May 2005, eleven Muslim girls were killed by their families in just two regions (there are 20 regions in Holland). After that, people stopped telling me I was exaggerating."

      "The kind on thinking I saw in Saudi Arabia and among the Brotherhood of Kenya and Somalia, is incompatible with human rights and liberal values. It preserves the feudal mind-set based on tribal concepts of honor and shame. It rests on self-deception, hyp-rocricy, and double standards. It relies on the technologial advances of the West while pretending to ignore their origin in Western thinking. This mind-set makes the transition to modernity very painful for all who practice Islam".

      August 25, 2010 at 3:50 pm |
    • Reality

      From- Aya-an Hi-rsi Ali's book In-fi-del".-

      Thus begins the extraordinary story of a woman born into a family of desert nomads, circ-u-m-cised as a child, educated by rad-ical imams in Kenya and Saudi Arabia, taught to believe that if she uncovered her hair, terrible tragedies would ens-ue. It's a story that, with a few different twists, really could have led to a wre-tched life and a lonely death, as her grandmother warned. But instead, Hir-si Ali escaped – and transformed herself into an internationally renowned spokeswoman for the rights of Muslim women-

      "Some of the Saudi women in our neighborhood were regularly bea-ten by their husbands. You could hear them at night. Their scre-ams resounded across the courtyards. "No! Please! By Allah!"

      The Pakistanis were Muslims but they too had castes. The Un-tou-chable girls, both Indian and Pakistani were darker skin. The others would not play with them because they were un-touc-hable. We thought that was funny because of course they were touc-hable: we tou-ched them see? but also horrifying to think of yourself as unt-ouchable, despicable to the human race.

      Between October 2004 and May 2005, eleven Muslim girls were killed by their families in just two regions (there are 20 regions in Holland). After that, people stopped telling me I was exaggerating.

      The kind on thinking I saw in Saudi Arabia and among the Brotherhood of Kenya and Somalia, is incompatible with human rights and liberal values. It preserves the feudal mind-set based on tribal concepts of honor and shame. It rests on self-deception, hyp-rocricy, and double standards. It relies on the technologial advances of the West while pretending to ignore their origin in Western thinking. This mind-set makes the transition to modernity very painful for all who practice Islam"

      August 25, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
    • Reality

      Some of the Saudi women in our neighborhood were regularly bea-ten by their husbands. You could hear them at night. Their scre-ams resounded across the courtyards. "No! Please! By Allah!"

      The Pakistanis were Muslims but they too had castes. The Un-tou-chable girls, both Indian and Pakistani were darker skin. The others would not play with them because they were un-touc-hable. We thought that was funny because of course they were touc-hable: we tou-ched them see? but also horrifying to think of yourself as unt-ouchable, despicable to the human race.

      Between October 2004 and May 2005, eleven Muslim girls were killed by their families in just two regions (there are 20 regions in Holland). After that, people stopped telling me I was exaggerating.

      The kind on thinking I saw in Saudi Arabia and among the Brotherhood of Kenya and Somalia, is incompatible with human rights and liberal values. It preserves the feudal mind-set based on tribal concepts of honor and shame. It rests on self-deception, hyp-rocricy, and double standards. It relies on the technologial advances of the West while pretending to ignore their origin in Western thinking. This mind-set makes the transition to modernity very painful for all who practice Islam- AH Ali

      August 25, 2010 at 3:55 pm |
    • Reality

      From- Aya-an Hi-rsi Ali's book In-fi-del.-

      Thus begins the extraordinary story of a woman born into a family of desert nomads, circ-u-m-cised as a child, educated by rad-ical imams in Kenya and Saudi Arabia, taught to believe that if she uncovered her hair, terrible tragedies would ens-ue. It's a story that, with a few different twists, really could have led to a wre-tched life and a lonely death, as her grandmother warned. But instead, Hir-si Ali escaped – and transformed herself into an internationally renowned spokeswoman for the rights of Muslim women-

      August 25, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
  18. Matt

    Bring back the lions!

    August 25, 2010 at 3:37 pm |
  19. TIMOTHY

    TERRORISTS = UNBELIEVERS = SINNERS

    They are all the same who do NOT BELIEVE THE TRUE WORD OF G_d, The Christ, our SALVATION! The truth is there if you shall seek it; everything which is GOOD SHALL NOT BE REFUSED IF TAKEN IN THANKSGIVING! Our Heavenly Father placed all on this Earth which is Good, but the laws and minds of men pervert it for their own profit, which is an offense to G_d.

    We all must learn and obey; to turn the other cheek is good in the eyes of G_d. To judge another is NOT our domain. When we do this, we essentially elevating ourselves and is an offense to G_d. In Roman times, Christians were considered perverted; we called each other Brother or Sister, had "Lovefeasts," and to outsiders who judged, we were labeled as we would seek to label others today, because we didn't understand, have compassion, or walked-in the path which G_d shows us. Mankind is on the cusp of a new beginning, but we will never make it to that final step if we do not accept each other as brothers and sisters no matter what they look like, no matter which creed or color they belong to or come from, OR what language they speak in. Get to know them and you might find they worship the goodness of G_d, which is the same as ours as Christians.

    If you cannot do this, hateful in your flesh, how then can you ever be close to the Greatness of G_d? Who is EVERYTHING good and just. Recognize these things and you might save yourselves, continue in hatred, lust of the flesh, and greed, the times of great tribulation will be before you. Compassion, love, honesty, faithfulness, being non-judgemental, careful of what you speak, repenting of mistakes, striving to become more than you are through G_d, is the True Way!

    AMEN!

    August 25, 2010 at 3:37 pm |
    • Jennifer

      I think it was you who rang my doorbell, and I didn't answer it. Whew!

      August 25, 2010 at 3:44 pm |
  20. JohnBissell

    Hey CNN, is satire forbidden by the Very Holey Qooran, that why my Posts are Toast?? What up Wolf?

    August 25, 2010 at 3:35 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.