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. bigstick

    this nation has a problem as illustrated by bloomberg.it is a root problem.S.L.W.U.T......spineless little white uncle toms.

    August 25, 2010 at 4:10 pm |
  2. DazedAndConfused

    if you REALLY want to hold up the building of the community center in question get the local mob involved. Union labor, permits, construction materials disappearing from the jobsite, etc. You know, the stuff all other construction projects have to deal with.

    August 25, 2010 at 4:10 pm |
  3. jeff

    Bloomberg was trying he is above ordinary, which he is not. If the religions do not matter, why build a mosque? Why not something else such as religions union center.

    August 25, 2010 at 4:10 pm |
  4. 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 the USA. Oil profits allow them to do that.

    August 25, 2010 at 4:10 pm |
  5. Beverly Tatum

    I cannot believe there is so much hate and intolerance in America. Thank you Republicans for creating fear and hysteria once again over a non-issue. You are such hypocritical liars. I cannot believe any sane person would vote for a Republican. They hate America, They want to rip apart our Constitution to target people they hate and then they want us to trust them to do what is best for America? What a joke!

    All Muslims are not terrorists. All Catholics are not child molesters. All evangelicals don't murder abortion doctors and attack and kill gays. The only thing that is true is that Republicans have NO values, NO patriotism, NO understanding of the Constitution, and NONE are real Christians. Republicans are the most dangerous group of domesitc terrorists we face and we MUST get them out of our government before they totally destroy our nation.


    August 25, 2010 at 4:10 pm |
  6. programmergirl

    This mosque should not be built anywhere near Ground Zero. Period. For centuries, it has been the practice of Muslims to build Mosques on the site of the Enemy they just conquered. To allow this mosque to be built is the same as saying Islam has won, and America has lost. That is EXACTLY what the Muslims want.
    To those who cry 'Religion freedom!', my response is this: when the Jews are allowed to re-build the Temple of Solomon over the mosque in Jerusalem, then we can consider building a mosque in NYC. When women in Islamic countries are no longer stoned to death, then we can consider building a mosque. Until then, it should not be allowed. I find it interesting that the Muslims continually cry about Religious Freedom, yet they themselves are extremely intolerant of anyone Else's religion.
    Final word: just because you CAN build the mosque.... doesn't mean you SHOULD. Consider the feelings of your fellow Americans who lost family members and loved ones on 9/11. If these Muslims don't care about their fellow Americans, then in my opinion, they are not real Americans at all and should move to an Islamic country where they can build all the mosques they want to!

    August 25, 2010 at 4:10 pm |

    The banner of freedom will be painted with the blood of the ignorant.

    August 25, 2010 at 4:09 pm |
  8. Tewrobert

    Bloomberg you are such a disgusting piece of garbage, You have NO right to say that to anyone, You filthy dog

    August 25, 2010 at 4:09 pm |
  9. John Kaufman, Oceanside, CA

    Some of you people don't get it regarding Islamic religion and law. Take a look at France and now England, that is what will be coming to the USA, along with Suria law. If erecting a mosque at Ground Zero is not offensive, why not build mosques next to the Alamo, the USS Arizonia, Gettesburg battle field, the State's Capitol, and Mt Rushmore. It's okay you people don't mind and then lets spit on Christanity and all you dirty christians.

    August 25, 2010 at 4:08 pm |
    • Frogist

      I guess I am ignorant of what you are saying... WHAT is wrong with England and France?

      August 26, 2010 at 5:15 pm |
  10. MashaSobaka

    If I know that when I go outside there is a good chance that I will be ridiculed, chastised, criticized, attacked or even murdered for who I am; if I know that most people prefer to hate me indiscriminately rather than learn anything about me or my faith; if I know that I am unwelcome even in my native country despite the fact that I have never done anything wrong; if I know that I will be treated like a mongrel despite my years of education; if I know that my children are not safe when they leave the house because my neighbors think of them as the next generation of terrorists; if my fellow citizens refuse to acknowledge the similarities between my holy text and theirs because it is far easier to remain ignorant and hate recklessly than it is to accept the truth; then yes, I may well indeed be an American Muslim.

    August 25, 2010 at 4:08 pm |
    • Jeff A.

      MashaSobaka, you are welcome here, it is your radical cousin with the bomb belt attached to his body that is not !!

      August 25, 2010 at 4:14 pm |
    • Frogist

      @MashaSobaka: You are welcomed in my home.

      August 26, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
  11. Skipca

    If their practice of stoning adulterers was brought here we wouldn't have an NBA. Seriously, it's not a church it's a cultural center whatever that is.

    August 25, 2010 at 4:08 pm |
  12. itlyboy

    Ah...once again we see that religion poisons everything. Atheism!!!

    August 25, 2010 at 4:07 pm |
  13. JP548


    You would have many Freedoms in Iran. Never mind your egg

    August 25, 2010 at 4:07 pm |
  14. Sam

    I want to reply to the one that made the commit "It is alright to make money, thats is what makes the world go round" Anyone who thinks like that is simply chasing his tail....and bloomburg, whatever comes out your mouth...your heart speaks.

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

    Bloomberg is a hypocrite and speaks only for himself. WE ARE NOT MUSLIM nor do we want to be. is he crazy? Muslims need to assimilate or navagate out of our country.

    August 25, 2010 at 4:05 pm |
  16. Don Curran

    People people people. everyone is missing the point here. They are not building a mosque, they are building a community center... similar to the YMCA, YWCA. In this community center there will be a prayer room, again just like the chapels in the Y's.
    There will be no mineretts or domes, this building will be just like any other building in the area square/rectangular with windows and doors.

    August 25, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
    • Jennifer

      Yes, and they can plan attacks while living among us, regardless of the roof over their heads- it's about the ideology, not brick and mortar. However, NY gangsters worked out of the back rooms of restaurants... they served customers in the front, cut throats in the back. Intention is EVERYTHING.

      August 25, 2010 at 4:14 pm |
  17. itlyboy

    Well, it goes to show once again that religion poisons everything.

    August 25, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
  18. makhtar

    If you have the objection to Saudi Money for the mosque, Than you should not use Saudi oil either. Do not drive just walk to work. Do not be narrow minded. Our fight is with terrorists and extreamists not Islam. May Allah Guide you, Ameen.

    August 25, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
  19. M Roberts

    Grown ups like Ron Paul and Bloomberg appear to represent on now what seems to be a minority in the conservative world. Kudos to the two of you for doing what is right, and for respecting everything that went into the foundation of the USA.

    August 25, 2010 at 4:02 pm |
  20. Not in Nottingham

    Hey New York – Hope you are paying attention to this buffoon of a mayor you have. If you re-elect him, you get what you deserve.

    August 25, 2010 at 4:01 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
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.