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. OxyCon

    Sure is a really good thing Bloomberg wasn't mayor on 911 is all I gotta say.

    August 26, 2010 at 12:06 pm |
  2. Jenny

    No, we're not all Muslims, and for those poor fools who believe that Islam is a religion of peace and compliant with our values and constitution, here is what constitutes an education for the left wing, and corporate shills who wish to sell out to Islam, the dummy dhimmis as it were. Islam for Dummies:

    1- Jihad defined as “to war against non-Muslims to establish the religion” is the duty of every Muslim and Muslim head of state (Caliph). Muslim Caliphs who refuse jihad are in violation of Sharia and unfit to rule.

    2- A Caliph can hold office through seizure of power meaning through force.

    3- A Caliph is exempt from being charged with serious crimes such as murder, adultery, robbery, theft, drinking and in some cases of rape.

    4- A percentage of Zakat (alms) must go towards jihad.

    5- It is obligatory to obey the commands of the Caliph, even if he is unjust.

    6- A caliph must be a Muslim, a non-slave and a male.

    7- The Muslim public must remove the Caliph in one case, if he rejects Islam.

    8- A Muslim who leaves Islam must be killed immediately.

    9- A Muslim will be forgiven for murder of : 1) an apostasy 2) an adulterer 3) a highway robber. Making vigilante street justice and honor killing acceptable.

    10- A Muslim will not get the death penalty if he kills a non-Muslim.

    11- Sharia never abolished slavery and sexual slavery and highly regulates it. A master will not be punished for killing his slave.

    12- Sharia dictates death by stoning, beheading, amputation of limbs, flogging and other forms of cruel and unusual punishments even for crimes of sin such as adultery.

    13- Non-Muslims are not equal to Muslims and must comply to Sharia if they are to remain safe. They are forbidden to marry Muslim women, publicly display wine or pork, recite their scriptures or openly celebrate their religious holidays or funerals. They are forbidden from building new churches or building them higher than mosques. They may not enter a mosque without permission. A non-Muslim is no longer protected if he commits adultery with a Muslim woman or if he leads a Muslim away from Islam.

    14- It is a crime for a non-Muslim to sell weapons to someone who will use them against Muslims. Non-Muslims cannot curse a Muslim, say anything derogatory about Allah, the Prophet, or Islam, or expose the weak points of Muslims. However, the opposite is not true for Muslims.

    15- A non-Muslim cannot inherit from a Muslim.

    16- Banks must be Sharia compliant and interest is not allowed.

    17- No testimony in court is acceptable from people of low-level jobs, such as street sweepers or a bathhouse attendant. Women in such low level jobs such as professional funeral mourners cannot keep custody of their children in case of divorce.

    18- A non-Muslim cannot rule even over a non-Muslims minority.

    19- Homosexuality is punishable by death.

    20- There is no age limit for marriage of girls under Sharia. The marriage contract can take place anytime after birth and consummated at age 8 or 9.

    21- Rebelliousness on the part of the wife nullifies the husband’s obligation to support her, gives him permission to beat her and keep her from leaving the home.

    22- Divorce is only in the hands of the husband and is as easy as saying: “I divorce you” and becomes effective even if the husband did not intend it.

    23- There is no community property between husband and wife and the husband’s property does not automatically go to the wife after his death.

    24- A woman inherits half what a man inherits.

    25- A man has the right to have up to 4 wives and she has no right to divorce him even if he is polygamous.

    26- The dowry is given in exchange for the woman’s sexual organs.

    27- A man is allowed to have sex with slave women and women captured in battle, and if the enslaved woman is married her marriage is annulled.

    28- The testimony of a woman in court is half the value of a man.

    29- A woman looses custody if she remarries.

    30- To prove rape, a woman must have 4 male witnesses.

    31- A rapist may only be required to pay the bride-money (dowry) without marrying the rape victim.

    32- A Muslim woman must cover every inch of her body which is considered “Awrah,” a sexual organ. Some schools of Sharia allow the face and some don’t.

    33- A Muslim man is forgiven if he kills his wife caught in the act of adultery. However, the opposite is not true for women since he “could be married to the woman he was caught with.”

    The above are clear cut laws in Islam decided by great Imams after years of examination and interpretation of the Quran, Hadith and Mohammed’s life. Now let the learned Imam Rauf tell us what part of the above is compliant with the US constitution?

    August 26, 2010 at 11:32 am |
  3. NEON whip

    this guys a fruittt bagg.

    August 26, 2010 at 11:22 am |
  4. cap'n Ed

    American's seem obsessed with finding one "worth a butt kicking" label every generation... 200 years ago it was "are you an Indian or a Negro", 100 years ago it was "Are you a Jew or a Catholic?", then it was "Are you a queer or a commie?" now its "Are you a socialist or a Muslim," What next ??? I think we need to grow up...

    August 26, 2010 at 10:48 am |
  5. Badger1911

    No, we're not. I don't oppress women. I don't do FGM on girls. I don't force girls into marriages. I don't do honor killings.

    I'm offended.

    As for Simon the zealot. That was 2,000 years ago, thus it's IRRELEVANT. Today matters. And even then Christianity evolved. Judaism evolved. Islam didn't. Islam is stuck in what Mohammed wrote down 1,400 years ago (that is if Mohammed even existed and there are already some doubts that he did.) Mohammed plundered, raped and murdered. And every mohammedan today must follow Mohammed's example, since in islamic mythology Mohammed is the perfect human being. That includes rape, murder and pedophilia.

    Some people here seem to follow the "poor muslim" mantra. Look at history. The crusades, for example, were the European reaction to decades of mohammedan aggression. Europe eventually had enough and fought back. That's the simply historic truth.

    Also, why is everybody calling them "muslims"? "Muslim" means "true believer" (look it up), so by calling them "muslims" you acknowledge that they follow the one true god in the one true religion, thus you brand yourself as an infidel and with that you are legitimate prey under sharia law. Infidels, under sharia law (which can not be separated from islam), are third class citizens. Islam itself is incompatible with democracy, since it would indicate that infidels are of the same "weight" as mohamemdans, and that's not possible under sharia law.

    I really suggest that the islam defenders here go to a mohammedan country and "enjoy" sharia law for a while. Or go to Europe and enter one of the many no-go areas that are growing there like mushrooms. Maybe proclaim that you're gay or an infidel or something like that. It will change your life. If you survive it.

    "Islam" is not "peace". Islam means submission.

    I won't submit. I don't want this fascist ideology, which is on par with Hitler's national socialism in its intolerance and hatred (ironically Hitler was an avid fan of islam and he and his stupid little, hateful book Mein Kampf are still very popular in the mohammedan world), on my doorstep.

    Reform islam. Or get out.

    PS: allah, the Christian god and JHW are NOT the same god. Allah can be traced back to a pre-islamic moon deity. Mohammed simply copied from the Jews and Christians to get them on his side, but they didn't follow him. His reaction? He killed them where he could find them (an order actually written in the koran, and no, it's not taken out of context.)

    August 26, 2010 at 10:14 am |
  6. sandraQureshi

    I dont know if it is our shotty school system that has failed to educate on 'What is Islam' or the media has promtoed propganda into the main stream and laziness has led people to swallow what they are fed without detecting that it is posion. But no matter what the cause the effect is IGNORANCE. People do not seem to know their own religions nevermind other religions. The way to the truth is not picking up your local paper and reading, nor is it to turn on your tv and watch the 'news'. The way to the truth is to research and exploration. Anyone who has done research and explored KNOW that ALL RELIGIONS teach self-restraint, non-violence, and a spirit of giving. Those 19 men and anyone else tied to them are militants not religious men. They dont have the money and power to house weapons so they use the human mind as their weapon. These militants teach unsuspecting minds to kill as a form of God's work. The problem we have as that children are taught to memorize the KURAN but none (unless saught by their own free will) are taught how to interpret. I have read both the Bible and the KURAN and can safely say that the message is the SAME in both holy books. We Americans have never dealt with civilian attack on our homeland in all of our history and were scared to death and shocked that it was possible to pull off because we have been taught since childhood that we are strong and secure. Being shown that we hurt and are vulnerable like every other 'weaker' nation is waking people up from their dreamland that we can live our lives in a bubble and ignore the rest of the world. We simply can not. And what is happening or has happened is people are running scared, and when running scared we need an enemy to aim our fears at. Islam is a scape goat. Having an Islamic center NEAR ground zero will propose oportunity for the TOURISTS who visit to learn the facts. I hope they also put a chapel and a synogogue in that building to show that three religions based on the same Abraham can live side by side in peace.

    August 26, 2010 at 9:31 am |
    • Badger1911

      Apparently you haven't done your research. The koran states clearly that infidels must be killed. Sharia law clearly brands non-mohammedans as third class citizens with less rights than mohammedans. The food chain of sharia law is: on top are the mohammedan men, then come the women (in case a woman is raped she has to bring male witnessess who confirm that she has been raped, otherwise she's guilty of either adultry or pre-martial sex and would thus be stoned to death, yes, even today) and finally the infidels, the dhimmis, the non-mohammedans.

      In Pakistan, for example, the word of a non-mohammedan, in court, is only worth half of the word of a mohammedan.

      Thus get your facts straight and do some actual research before spreading taqqiya.

      August 26, 2010 at 10:17 am |
    • Badger1911

      And no, they're not based on the same Abraham. They don't even have the same god. Allah, the Christian God and JHW are NOT the same god. Allah can be traced back to a pre-islamic moon deity. Mohammed simply copied from the Jews and Christians to get them on his side, but they didn't follow him. His reaction? He killed them where he could find them (an order actually written in the koran, and no, it's not taken out of context.)

      Of course, that is if Mohammed even existed. There is already some doubt that he did. Because historically, there is no actual evidence this man ever lived.

      Stop white-washing the facts.

      August 26, 2010 at 10:24 am |
  7. Reality

    And the solution? The Five Step Program to Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths!!!!!

    See below:

    Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

    "1. Belief in Allah"

    aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your cleansing neurons.

    "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

    Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

    "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

    A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc.

    No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

    "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

    Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.
    Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

    Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

    "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) alone."

    Mohammed spent thirty days fasting in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

    Accept these five "cleansers" and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

    August 26, 2010 at 8:49 am |
  8. howirrd

    Bloomberg things hr is king and what he says goes. That is why my family will cancel our trip to NYC becaudr he should stand up and say is backs obama. They are nothidiots because the change is nt what we expected,but we will change that in 2010 & 2012.. No wonder NY can't pay thrir bill because he is donr as an ecected offical-thank your hihjer power. If we knew then what we know now he would have wasted his monry.

    August 26, 2010 at 6:36 am |
  9. newman

    not a bad perspective by the mayor, though he grossly misrepresents the essence of chrisitan faith in that quote and falsely suggests that the separate belief systems are compatible simply because we are all american. that will not abide. if we are ever to be united, it will only be under the Lordship of Jesus Christ – not under the american flag.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:22 am |
  10. salayem

    Before I read these posts I thought GWB is the only stupid american.

    August 26, 2010 at 2:43 am |
  11. Gil T

    I can appreciate Mayor Bloomberg's gesture behind those words, "We are all Muslims." It is in the same light as the Feisal Abdul Rauf whom he quotes.

    What I cannot appreciate is the knowledge some people ascribe to such sweeping generalizations. Generalizations such as this are not limited to politicians in the highest office in the land on down and news media celebrities, but they include ignorant teachers of their own scriptures. There is a tendency among many who hear prominent public individuals to assume they have more than a superficial knowledge of their faith, that they speak truthfully or accurately.

    Any given individual of the Christian, Hindu, Islam or Judaism belief systems may gladly assume another term of identification -in the moment- as for a photo opt. The truth is that while one may find himself defined in the spur of the moment the individual of a respective faith lives a life in which he continually defines himself as a believer and follower of God.

    Mayor Bloomberg's generalization is not new. It is the best response offered by some to challenges they find themselves unable to respond. The statement does not clarify anything. It merely attempts to blur distinctive differences. It purports to offer neither teaching nor enlightenment for those who hear.

    August 26, 2010 at 12:52 am |
  12. cassie

    Islam is not a tolerant religions and is not really interested in being peaceful and helping to heal the wounds of 9/11. It's easy to take advantage of our freedoms without actually subscribing to them. The mayor is just being, as usual, politically correct.

    August 25, 2010 at 9:57 pm |
  13. Consistent Thinker

    Do people realize that we are not other countries, and that we are the USA, land of the free. Practice whatever faith you want: who cares? Point is, why does a church have to built in Mecca for the mosque to built near Ground Zero. If that is how some of you think, then we would never have had such a melting pot that we do in America. Remember Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Sikhs, and Christians serve this country in many ways. Lets not make stupid points into this and possibly consider the feelings of those who lost loved ones who are suffering from PTSD at the sound of hearing a mosque open.

    BTW, I am for the mosque just as I am for Glenn Beck doing whatever he is planning to do this weekend in DC.

    August 25, 2010 at 9:24 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Consitent Thinker: I am not for Glenn Beck to be anywhere near where he can influence as much as a kitchen sponge... but I support his right to do it. Funny thing, how I'm not saying all white people are jerkovs just because of one opportunist. And funny thing how I recognize I can't stop him from making a fool of himself and the rest of us.

      August 26, 2010 at 6:47 pm |
  14. Kate

    Off Topic: Hey CNN, why didn't you kick open a new blog post pointing to the article at http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/africa/08/25/nigeria.child.witches/ ?

    August 25, 2010 at 9:11 pm |
  15. Amanda

    I've said it a hundred times, and I'm gonna say it one more just for you. You are placing blame in the wrong place. There is no one person or group of people allowing this to be built. The constitution is allowing it to be built. You have every right to oppose the mosque being built (just as they have a right to build it), but place the blame where it belongs. You can say that all these people are "siding with the Muslims" all you want, but it doesn't change the fact that your problem is atually with the constitution and not Bloomberg (or any other politician). Sorry......they didn't write the constitution.......they were simply elected to uphold it.......get over it.

    August 25, 2010 at 8:25 pm |
  16. Dave

    I just don't see what the big deal is all about. At the Pentagon, less than 100 feet from where the plane hit on 9/11, there is a 'chapel', for lack of a better term, that is used by Muslims, Christians, Jews, and Hindus. How come in DC people don't see an issue with different faiths practicing that close to our own Ground Zero, but in NYC 2 blocks is too close? Please explain, b/c I'm confused.

    August 25, 2010 at 8:10 pm |
  17. sunni1

    Only moderate Sunnis are your hope. "Al Maghrib Institute Unveiled"

    August 25, 2010 at 8:09 pm |
  18. sunni1

    Moderate Muslims are already waging a battle against extremists, i.e. the Wahhabis, Salafis, Yasir Qadhi, al-Maghrib Institute, etc. I am a moderate Muslims myself who has bled sweat, blood, and tears to refute them in this blog. Please don't make the mistake of lumping moderates with extremists. Military and politics have failed. Only we, the moderate Muslims, are your hope.

    Just google "Al-Maghrib Institute Unveiled" and you will know.

    August 25, 2010 at 8:06 pm |
  19. massimo i

    Muslims, Christians, Jews share one fantastic thing in common... they are under the impression that they know what god wants... so much so that they speak for him, and kill for him, ( a totally hypocritical approach regardless witch fairytale you choose) when they should just be living a life that would please their god, in a private way, if they so need.

    August 25, 2010 at 7:57 pm |


    After reading through most 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 done away with.

    August 25, 2010 at 7:48 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.