home
RSS
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. BobinNC

    I'm not an ****ing muslim! He should speak for himself.

    August 25, 2010 at 4:01 pm |
  2. Sweet Irony

    What the heck? Mayor Bloomberg is a Republican right? It's tragic he can call himself a Muslim and have nothing happen to him, yet if a Muslim were to say he/she is a Christian or a Jew in certainly Muslim countries, he/she would be accused of apostasy and probably be sentenced to death.

    August 25, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
  3. K Allan

    I must say I disagree with Mr. Bloomberg on this issue! If they want to build, then do it somewhere else that isn't disrespecting Ground zero. Why can't the Islamic society see this as a wrong decision to build here and move to a more preferred site that New Yorkers and people world wide could be happy with!! If they had any dignity at all, they would understand the upset, they are causing all 9/11 mourners! I also must say that I agree with other comments about religious freedom issues, like in the schools!! How is it that the Islamic community are allowed to wear there head dress, leave to go to prayer during school hours but we are not allowed our religion in the school system!! Isn't this a double standard! Everything they wear or do is considered religious?! I have to say this isn't about religion but to mock all Americans and to say “we won”! That is how everyone world wide is seeing this Mosque being built so close to the Trade Center!! I have no issue they want to build elsewhere, wear there religious dress code at home or on the street but keep it out of the schools, workplace and anywhere else that doesn't allow religion an that isn’t appropriate! We aren't allowed too, so why are they or any other religion!!! We are in America and not the Middle East, so please take on our ways and don't bring your ways and force us to deal with it! If we went to the Middle East, we would be jailed or even killed for not following your laws or ways!!! You chose to leave your county, so PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL TO THE 9/11 VICTIMS AND THERE FAMILIES AND PLACE THE MOSQUE ELSEWHERE!!

    August 25, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
    • Jeff A.

      Why should we encourage building mosques here in America. A good place to build a Mosque would be in Saudi Arabia. Let's encourage churches, which are going the way of the dinosaur, with as much fervour as these turncoats trump the mosque..................

      August 25, 2010 at 4:10 pm |
  4. BYN

    Dear Mayor Bloomberg: You Are Nuts!

    August 25, 2010 at 3:58 pm |
  5. Carlton

    Quite simple, just like so many other Politicians, Democrat and Republican, show them the right amount of money they'll say and do anything!!! Mayor Foolberg is obviously getting a slice of this so-called untraceable oil money according to the Imam from the Muslim world!!! That's what most of our Politicians do here in America, they're career liars to all of us!!! We need some real leaders who will stand up for the truth and what is right in the sight of GOD, not people!!! Jesus Christ!!! Amen!!!

    August 25, 2010 at 3:58 pm |
  6. DazedAndConfused

    Dan, in response to your question about why there. One needs to check who the realtor was that closed the sale. Maybe it was a friend or a family member of the Iman looking to setup the mosque. They had the listing, a nice commission was to be had and viola. A community center was born. I still don't understand why, in the name of public safety (we know there are going to protests during the building and after it is complete), doesn't the State of New York claim emminent domain and just take the land. There have been countless times when a governing body used that process. Unless those not happy are a small but very loud and obnoxious portion of the electorate.

    August 25, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
  7. Scrape

    Too much hate for my taste. We get what we deserve.

    August 25, 2010 at 3:56 pm |
  8. Ed

    The main contributor of money for the mosque is the second largest shareholder of NewsCorp (who owns Fox News). The guy has even been own Neil Cavuto's show. Cavuto called him a "great friend of America". Now they rail about this issue, all the while knowing it is merely to flame racial and religious tensions. Why does no one investigate this?

    August 25, 2010 at 3:56 pm |
    • Jennifer

      Good point! It's kinda like how I felt after finding out Tiger Woods spent his money on hookers and such. It's disheartening to see how people spend money without integrity or forsight.

      August 25, 2010 at 4:07 pm |
  9. Joel Miller

    Kudos to Bloomberg for standing up for American principles and decency. I think all those who claim to adhere strictly to the constitution and "support our troops" should carefully consider what he is saying.

    August 25, 2010 at 3:56 pm |
  10. FrankLW

    The author and Bloomberg just don't get it. The problem is not whether or not a mosque should be permitted, but whether a hotbed of radical violence should be permitted.
    The center's Imam Rauf, is actually a fundamentalist Muslim. After 9/11 he said “United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened” – providing an indefensible rationale for the terror and abetting yet more terror since he was not just offering this insight in order to help law enforcement but was using the "message" of the killers as a catalyst to discuss the "evils" of US foreign policy.
    Any who dislike or hate or feel damaged by US policy can protest in the free US media, can file law suits in free American courts, can freely demonstrate in the US, and can take legal action in international courts.
    Destroying towers and thousands of random office workers is not an option and any deranged motivation is ONLY of interest to enforcement personnel. If we allow the terror to affect our discussion of foreign policy in any way whatsoever, not only will the terrorists have succeeded, but many more will be encouraged to do the same.

    Rauf also refuses to condemn the mass murdering Hamas terror organization that targets civilians and celebrates their murder – which means he IS condemning their victims.

    The First Amendment clearly relates to the "right of the people peaceably to assemble" in the context of freedom of religion. We do guarantee freedom of religion but in this very particular context "peaceable assembly" is severely in question so this particular Islamic center may well be unacceptable.

    August 25, 2010 at 3:55 pm |
    • Jeff A.

      The center's Imam Rauf, is actually a fundamentalist Muslim. After 9/11 he said “United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened” – providing an indefensible rationale for the terror and abetting yet more terror since he was not just offering this insight in order to help law enforcement but was using the "message" of the killers as a catalyst to discuss the "evils" of US foreign policy."

      Maybe you should remind Bloomberg that he defends the centers Immam's right to continue to spew hatred of anything American. Mccarthys communist witch hunt pales in comparison to the treason of Bloomberg !!!

      August 25, 2010 at 4:07 pm |
    • FrankLW

      – Jeff A. , spewing hatred is one thing, this Imam and his center will actually be aiding and abetting further terror and mass murder. When the Muslim center's collection plate goes around (even before its is ever built) and its funds in part go to the Hamas "social welfare" branch, which is a front for laundering monies that go to purchasing terrorist arms, that is simply criminal. The Hamas is termed a terrorist organization by the US State Dept, the EU, UK, and others – but NOT by Rauf.
      The German federal court ruled in 2004 that the Hamas was a unified organization whose humanitarian aid work cannot be separated from its "terrorist and political activities".

      August 25, 2010 at 4:25 pm |
    • FrankLW

      Oh, and Rauf’s claims of not condemning Hamas because he is apolitical and wants to keep open bridges of dialogue, did not stop him from condemning the US for its causing the 9/11 terror. Of course if Rauf actually would condemn the Hamas that would certainly build a whole lot more bridges between American Islam and the rest of America and the West – but he will not since he is a fundamentalist..

      August 25, 2010 at 4:33 pm |
    • Frogist

      @FrankLW and JeffA. Having done some research on the man, I have found absolutely no proof that he is a fundamentalist. I have found proof that he is well regarded among religious leaders of many denominations. He has made efforts publicly to engender peace in the middle east by talking with leading jewish rabbis. And he has condemned terrorist acts including what happened on 9/11. There is absolutely no evidence of what you are saying. The one quote and only one quote you can pull up is that the US carries some of the blame for the unrest in the middle east? And you condemn him for something historical and political scholars readily agree with? I sure hope you and your conspiracy theories are somewhere out in the wilds of Montana because you scare me more than any muslim terrorist.

      read about his work with the Aspen Institute
      read his book What's right with islam is what's right with america
      Read any of the interviews in their entireity of which you quote haphazardly
      And most of all, use that thing that's attached to your neck... no, it's above your neck... I said ABOVE...

      August 26, 2010 at 4:48 pm |
    • Frogist

      @FrankLW and JeffA. Having done some research on the man, I have found absolutely no proof that he is a fundamentalist. I have found proof that he is well regarded among religious leaders of many denominations. He has made efforts publicly to engender peace in the middle east by talking with leading jewish rabbis. And he has condemned terrorist acts including what happened on 9/11. There is absolutely no evidence of what you are saying. The one quote and only one quote you can pull up is that the US carries some of the blame for the unrest in the middle east? And you condemn him for something historical and political scholars readily agree with? I sure hope you and your conspiracy theories are somewhere out in the wilds of Montana because you scare me more than any muslim terrorist.
      read about his work with the Aspen Insti-tute
      read his book What's right with islam is what's right with america
      Read any of the interviews in their entireity of which you quote haphazardly
      And most of all, use that thing that's attached to your neck... no, it's above your neck... I said ABOVE...

      August 27, 2010 at 9:40 am |
  11. Jeff A.

    Tammy b, sure they have the right to build there, until America says otherwise. And it seems that is what the majority of Americans are saying. Unfortunately, you are on the wrong side of the fence. Have a nice day.

    August 25, 2010 at 3:55 pm |
  12. Mark M Eaton

    Mayor Bloomberg is right on. Freedom is our heritage, our trademark. It is what makes America great.. Foremost of these is the freedom to worship according to one's conscience. If we oppress minority groups, we lose some of that greatness. In the 17th and 18th centures, America was a safe haven for those seeking religious freedom. Even though many of those early settlers were not at first willing to grant that same rights to others, in time we learned the important lesson of religious toleration. Nothing could be worse than for us to return to the intolerance of medieval Europe.

    August 25, 2010 at 3:53 pm |
    • Jeff A.

      Mark.M.Wheaton, yes, that is what makes America great, but let's not kill ourselfs with kindness and tolerance here. If you are saying that America the great and all it's inherent freedom allows a burgeoning Muslim population including it's radical elements the right to come here, and continue it's experiment with radical interpretations of Sharia law as interpreted by young Muslims, with a blind eye being turned by small m Muslims, then you are way wrong, and are ignoring the realities of the Muslim problems as witnessed around the world between radical and mainstream Islam. This is after all America, but there will come a time when these muslim issues will be in your, or your children's backyard, are you willing to allow that in the name of Freedom. Unchecked freedom=anarchy !!

      August 25, 2010 at 4:02 pm |
    • Reality

      Scroll up the page and read all about the incidents of koranic-driven terror for the last 22 years. Obviously the followers of the koran are at war with themselves and with the USA. Oil profits allow them to do so.

      August 25, 2010 at 4:06 pm |
    • Frogist

      @ MarkMEaton. Thanks Mark. Some people need to remember their history. Seems like they do not have enough confidence in American values to uphold their own const-itution.

      August 26, 2010 at 4:18 pm |
  13. A New Yorker

    First of all, our current mayor threw out the two term limit because he didn't want to give up his throne. He does not speak for the people, he speaks for himself. We DO NOT care if you want to build a buddhist temple, jewish temple, mosque. We do care that a house of muslim worship could be built within spitting distance of a very sacred place where 3000 of our friends, relatives, neighbors and co-workers died in the name of Islam. All I have ever heard is that that hijackers where considered to be the Islamic world's version of the KKK. If that is the case, why can't the Muslim world rise up and squash them. Why are they allowed to stone pregnant women to death and hang 7 year old boys? Why are they allowed to bomb military barracks and troop ships, why are they allowed to execute every young man who aspires to be a cop in Pakistan. Why the deafening silence about the funding for this mosque? Why the insistance that it has to be there, as if they were marking their victory? When the real powers that be in the Islamic world can stop this crap and give us some decent answers instead of hiding behind OUR constitution, then they have earned their place in downtown Manhattan.

    August 25, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
  14. C.Cantu

    In reciprocity, Christians should have the right and freedom without restrictions to build churches in any Muslim country.

    August 25, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
  15. THE GIRL

    SCHMUCK

    August 25, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
  16. RBG

    MAYOR BLOOMBERG, BEFORE THE MOSQUE CAN BE BUILT, WE NEED TO KNOW WHERE EVERY PENNY IS COMING FROM.. IF A PENNY IS COMING FROM SAUDI ARABIA, FORGET ABOUT BUILDING THIS MOSQUE. IT WOULD BE A TRUE INSULT TO THE 9/11 VICTIMS TO HAVE THIS MOSQUE BUILT WITH SAUDI MONEY.

    August 25, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
  17. Unumba10

    Can Bloomberg explain the following quote from the Koran:

    Qur’an:9:5 “Fight and kill the disbelievers wherever you find them, take them captive, harass them, lie in wait and ambush them using every stratagem of war

    August 25, 2010 at 3:50 pm |
  18. Saihung

    I am not a Muslim Mr. Bloomberg.

    August 25, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
  19. uncfester

    um, no, we're not. I wonder how welcoming the mayor would be if that mosque/cultural center was located next to HIS brownstone... I bet hizzoner would love the prayer call at 5:30 AM on a Sunday. if they want to "build bridges" donate the building and build somewhere else.

    August 25, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
  20. Art

    Bloomberg is ignorant about Islamic history. Besides building mosques on top of conquered lands there is another thing that Islam states. According to Muslim scholars, we are all indeed born Muslim. Even Moses and Jesus were born Muslims. Yep. The churches and synagogues were the ones who perverted their words and teachings. According to Muslims, it is their duty to get all of us apostates back into seeing the truth which is, "There is no God but Allah and Mohamed is his messenger". Don't take my word for it, look all of these things up. This next sentence sums it up:
    "Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth." - Omar Ahmad, founder of CAIR

    August 25, 2010 at 3:48 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32
Advertisement
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.