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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. ScottK

    After reading through a majority of the 900+ posts here I have learned two things...

    1. The majority of "Christian/conservative" posters have trouble with grammar and spelling.

    2. The world will never see peace until ALL religions are removed from the face of the earth.

    August 25, 2010 at 7:43 pm |
  2. joego

    How about if we take religion out of the equation here. Suppose someone in this country just out of the clear blue sky decided that we should embrace Jihad to establish Sharia law here in the USA. What would you say to them about that?

    August 25, 2010 at 7:38 pm |
    • Kate

      @Joego

      Westboro Baptist Church, Dove World Outreach Center, Pat Robertson. All have done a version of that (although they don't call it sha'ria per se, but that's what it would be) – what *did* people say?

      Just askin'

      August 25, 2010 at 7:44 pm |
  3. ScottK

    After reading through a majority of the 900+ posts here I have learned two things.

    1. The majority of "Christian/conservative" posters have trouble with grammar and spelling.

    2. The world will never see peace until ALL religions are completely destroyed, which was even predicted in Revelation 18:2 "And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird"

    The earth has existed for 4.5 billion years just fine without religion, only in the last 6,000 years has man invented religion to make himself feel more important and doomed us all. Armageddon will be a self fulfilling prophecy with no help from a higher power at all, and we will be lucky if mankind lives through it.

    August 25, 2010 at 7:36 pm |
    • Kate

      @ScottK

      Out of the entire population of the world, the number posting comments here is infinitesimally small ... It's hard to see it, maybe, but most people in the world just go on about their daily lives and couldn't care less about this stuff. They live, they die. they find the answers and we're still stuck arguing how many pins would make an angel dance on end (or something).

      Let it get to you and you become a bitter cynic, ready to just say words CNN would absolutely moderate if I repeated them here.

      Oh wow, that was bitterly cynical of me. onoes!!

      August 25, 2010 at 7:49 pm |
  4. halakoo

    i dont understand why so many peopel are so afraid of islam and muslims...As far as i know islam is one of the most peacfeull religion on planet earth....people have been killing eachother for very long time..so why blame islam for everything? not responsible

    August 25, 2010 at 7:24 pm |
  5. Amanda

    You freaking conservative idiots disgust me. You come on here and spout your bigotry about how Muslims are so horrible and the American way is so much better...........then, in the very next breath you say ".....well if we can build a Chrisitan church in Mecca, then we'll let them build a mosque here". I thought your whole point was that we are better than them. If you really believe we are so much better, then your "but we don't get to do it, so they shouldn't" sh*t doesn't fly. My five year old niece uses that excuse......grow the eff up!

    August 25, 2010 at 7:06 pm |
  6. joego

    And so it goes that you can't really always believe anything a Muslim says to a non believer. Just research the word taqiyya .

    I recommend ;

    citizenwarrior dot commercial

    We as a society are being constantly played for the fool by Islam.

    August 25, 2010 at 7:05 pm |
    • Kate

      @Joego

      You can't trust the word of a politician running for office – so by your criteria, I imagine all politicians are terrorists

      August 25, 2010 at 7:14 pm |
  7. Adam

    For those who use the ridiculous argument that its not OK for Muslims to build a mosque near ground zero because there are no churches in Mecca, I have the following to say to them: Are there any places of worship other than churches in the Vatican?

    No, there aren't, are there? All of NYC is not holy, unlike the Vatican and Mecca.

    I rest my case.

    I applaud those who spoke out against bigotry and xenophobia, reinforcing the values upon which this country and its constitution were founded: freedom for all, free of bias and prejudice.

    August 25, 2010 at 6:58 pm |
  8. dutchblitz1

    Last comment was meant to be a reply to hey_there

    August 25, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
    • Kate

      @dutchblitz1

      It looks like "Reply" breaks the threaded view if any of the comments within the thread (or the OP) get nuked by the mysterious moderator.

      August 25, 2010 at 7:05 pm |
  9. dutchblitz1

    That last comment was intended for hey_there. Ran into the same problem as Amanda

    August 25, 2010 at 6:47 pm |
  10. HolyHypocrisy

    Follow the Money_ http://emergingcorruption.com/?p=726

    August 25, 2010 at 6:39 pm |
  11. emo

    Liberals always want America to be more like Europe. Well let's start by banning the Hijab and banning the Burka like socialist France does.

    August 25, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  12. Mike

    There are two currents of people in America. The Super Rich like Bloomberg which are not in touch with reality...sides with Muslims , illegal immigration , free trade and other things...most of the people that sides with this side are illegal..or Muslim...or Gay...or others...or Hollywood.
    The other side is Middle Class Americans ;which understand what is going on at the moment and see the Muslim center in New York like a monument that means they won. These people are in touch with reality.

    August 25, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
    • Amanda

      To Mike,

      Please stop being ignorant. You think that anyone who agrees that the property owners have a right to build a mosque are "siding with the Muslims", when they are actually siding with the constitution. You blame them for the fact that a mosque is going to be built, when in fact it's our constitution that guarantees them the right to build it. If you don't want a mosque to be built, then your problem is with the constitution, not with the officers whose job it is to uphold it. You don't agree with it fine, that's your right. But don't put the blame on the politicians – they didn't write the constitution.

      August 25, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
    • Amanda

      To Mike,

      Please stop being ignorant. You think that anyone who agrees that the property owners have a right to build a mosque are "siding with the Muslims", when they are actually siding with the constitution. You blame them for the fact that a mosque is going to be built, when in fact it's our constitution that guarantees them the right to build it. If you don't want a mosque to be built, then your problem is with the constitution, not with the officers whose job it is to uphold it. You don't agree with it -fine, that's your right. But don't put the blame on the politicians – they didn't write the constitution.

      August 25, 2010 at 7:08 pm |
  13. emo

    This is the left's new argument: Those who oppose the Ground Zero Victory Mosque are undermining the WOT (War on Terror) and encouraging extremism abroad. BS. The Mosque will be a victory symbol for Islamic extremism and a strong recruiting tool for muslims: Kill Americans and get a monument.

    August 25, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  14. Amanda

    My comment is awaiting moderation, so i'm gonna take the "target words" out and post it again.....
    You freaking conservative idiots disgust me. You come on here and spout your bigotry about how Muslims are so horrible and the American way is so much better...........then, in the very next breath you say ".....well if we can build a Chrisitan church in Mecca, then we'll let them build a mosque here". I thought your whole point was that we are better than them. If you really believe we are so much better, then your "but we don't get to do it, so they shouldn't" crap doesn't fly. My five year old niece uses that excuse......grow the eff up!

    August 25, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  15. J. Adams

    How far can you tolerate the intolerant before you're no longer tolerated?

    August 25, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  16. Reality

    When will people realize that just as there are good doctors and quacks, good cops and rogue cops, there can also be good religions and bad religions e.g. Islam?

    August 25, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  17. Reality

    Describing in less than 1000 words, the drive of Islam to dominate the world.

    Mohammed could not have known the size of the world, but several passages in the Koran show that he envisioned Islam dominating all of it, however large it might be: “He it is who sent his messenger . . . that he may cause it [Islam] to prevail over all religions´(Koran 9:33, M.M. Ali; see also 48:28 and 61:9). M.M. Ali designates these three passages as “the prophecy of the ultimate triumph of Islam in the whole world.”

    Mohammed’s successors, the caliphs, quoted passages like these to inspire Muslim armies as they advanced out of Arabia, imposing Islam by the sword upon a peacefully unsuspecting Middle East and North Africa, as I described in the previous chapter.

    Islamic armies, imbued with what Mohammed claimed was divine authorization, imposed Islam by force over vast areas, all the while extorting wealth from subjugated Jews and Christians to fund their ongoing conquests. As I noted, major defeats at Tours, France, in A.D. 732, and again at Vienna, Austria, in A.D. 1683, halted Islam’s attempt to take all of Europe by force. Gradually Islamic forces were forced to retreat from Europe, except for part of the Balkans. But Islam has again set its sights on a conquest of Europe and of European civilization, wherever the latter has spread to North and South America and other regions. Muslim strategists ask their followers, Why do we find in these modern times that Allah has entrusted most of the world’s oil wealth primarily to Muslim nations?

    Their answer: Allah foresaw Islam’s need for funds to finance a final politico-religious victory over what Islam perceives as its ultimate enemy: Christianized Euro-American civilization. So, Islam follows Nazism, fascism and communism as the world’s latest hostile takeover aspirant.

    Nazis, fascists and communists failed. Does Islam have a better chance at success? I believe it will flounder if we awaken to its threat in time; yet, if there is not adequate planned resistance, Islam does have a better chance of succeeding. Communism’s world takeover attempt was guaranteed to fail because its economic policy was naively contrary to human nature. Advocating the rubric What is mine is thine, and what is thine is mine, communism failed to see that human nature will not keep those two balanced propositions in equilibrium. Like a female black widow spider consuming her mate, the latter part of the formula makes a meal of the former, leading to the collapse of any system based upon that formula.

    In contrast, political systems do well if they can persuade people to adhere to What’s mine is mine and What’s thine is thine maxims.

    Only if a strong religious incentive is added does such an idealistic formula have any long-term chance. Even then success will be spotty. But communism (and Nazism, for that matter) excluded religion. And that mistake was the final nail eventually clamping a lid on communism’s coffin. Communism, on a historical scale, perished while still in its childhood.

    Islam is not repeating communism’s mistake. Mating political cunning and incredible wealth with religious zeal, Islam does have a chance to succeed and will succeed unless major parts of the Western world unite to take appropriate countermeasures. But many Western leaders, unable to believe that a mere religion could possible be a serious political threat, keep proclaiming themselves as Islam-friendly, reasoning that all religions are good-aren’t they?

    A Muslim strategist in Beverly Hills, California, declared several years ago, as quoted by a friend of mine: “Now that the struggle between Western democracies and international communism is winding down, it is time for the real and final struggle to begin, and we are going to win!”

    When will people realize that just as there are good doctors and quacks, good cops and rogue cops, there can also be good religions and bad religions?

    August 25, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
    • Kate

      @Reality

      Probably long after they realize there are good posters and broken records.

      Are you still pasting your outright distortion about Northern Ireland BTW?

      August 25, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  18. ScottK

    We all know F O X funds terrorists, Ive seen interviews with Murdoch holding hands with the Muslim owner of Kingdom Holdings, who is the 2nd largest F O X stock owner. So why dont all you principled haters boycott them instead of this community center?

    August 25, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
  19. ScottK

    The Monsters are coming to Maples St (or Ground Zero)...
    "The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill, and suspicion can destroy, and the thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own: for the children, and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is that these things cannot be confined to the Twilight Zone." Rod Serling – 1960

    It was true then, its still true today. I hope someday the ignorant fearmongering masses grow up or evolve past this shameful moment in American history.

    August 25, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  20. Kate

    Strange, all this on Bloomberg's post, and nary a peep wondering about who exactly is radicalizing who with the post about the deranged inebriated youth who stabbed a taxi driver ...

    Oh, and whoever posted to Kepler about Native Americans, Native American is a race, Muslim is a religion – there are Native American Muslims.

    Just sayin'

    August 25, 2010 at 5:40 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.