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. mexxxica

    I am no Muslim... I am not a terrorist. By de facto, Muslims are terrorists...

    September 4, 2010 at 12:38 am |
  2. George

    Fact of business: Bloomberg is a politician. We are never going to win hearts and minds in Afghanistan or Iraq. For any westerner to think so is pure foolishness. Please demand from your legislators in Washington that Muslim immigration to America cease now as a temporary war measure. America did not allow immigration of "moderate" Nazis during WW 2.

    August 31, 2010 at 1:39 am |
  3. gsw

    "There is nowhere in the five boroughs that is off limits to any religion."

    I wonder if he would agree should a number of pagan druids want to celebrate the September equinox on his lawn?
    Why on earth don't they just turn the whole of the area – including any surrounding buildings damaged by the debris – into a memorial park? The park 51 truly could be a park of peace.

    Selling out to the Religion of Truce is not a good long term policy. This is why 4-8 year presidents are more short-sighted than long term monarchies.

    August 30, 2010 at 6:00 am |
  4. AGA

    Way to go Bloomberg!!

    August 30, 2010 at 1:17 am |
  5. Ravid Mendelsohn

    I am a huge supporter of Bloomberg, actually I want to see him President... but this is kind of ridiculous. We already guarantee the rights and safety of Muslims here in America... we don't have to go out of our way to show everyone how sweet and politically correct we are... Muslims deserve protection but it is 100% truth that the majority of Muslims are sympathetic to many terrorist organizations, have general anti-Semitism and elect leadership that would rather provoke emotion and terror in Westerners rather than preach a message of love.

    And the Imam who said that, that is a lovely statement. But their have been other Imams who have stated similar things (to the west and in public) and then filmed saying despicable things in their mosques. I really hope that Imam is for real and can climb the ladder of leadership... maybe then Americans would feel safe to trust Muslims. Mainstream Muslims need to stop complaining about lack of respect, stop demanding it (because it is earned) and actually do something about their leadership.

    August 29, 2010 at 2:19 am |
  6. No Dhimmi

    Wow. The guy who wrote this drool is a complete and total idiot. And so are all the morons who "liked" this on FB.

    August 28, 2010 at 10:26 pm |
  7. Karen

    "@Dan : how many blocks is sufficent, if not 2? 4 maybe? 8? 16? None? Who gets to decide what is a "comfortable" distance? (hint: if you don't live in NYC, you're not the answer)."

    How about 200 miles to the east of NYC where that puts it smack at the bottom of the ocean where it belongs?

    August 28, 2010 at 3:11 pm |
  8. V.H.

    oh yea....I forgot.....Bloomberg has special interest in this Mosque.......Just look up Bloomberg Inc. and all his dealing in Dubi and other Muslim country......Looking to triple the $$$ by 2014 ! Do your own research before you put all your trust in a politician....From what I can tell they are all crooked....

    August 27, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
  9. V.H.

    I hope they do build this Mosque so close to WTC.....Ya know why? Because, it will draw more and more Radical Muslims from and I quote " All around the world". So, when the next bombing or terror attack occurs we will know where to look.....No, not all Muslims are Radical and MOST Muslims (from what I hear and read) are not for the mosque being so close to ground zero, again from what I know a lot of Muslims are saying don't let it be built so close that it is a VICTORY MOSQUE !

    August 27, 2010 at 3:43 pm |
  10. TaterSalad

    Seems Bloomberg is getting big bucks from the Saudi's for "His Opinions".

    August 27, 2010 at 11:30 am |
  11. TaterSalad

    We are re-building 27 Mosque's around the world with our tax dollars, compliments of Barack Obama's policies crammed down our throats. How many of these mosque's will teach and harbor terrorists?



    August 27, 2010 at 11:29 am |
  12. DMH

    Let's bring our troops home, we did not help and we did not win! For the soldiers who's lives have been lost, this feels like a waste and a slap in the face. Besides, we will need them here help with the victory that we have given those who have slapped us in the face and spit in our eyes and gave us money to keep quite.

    August 27, 2010 at 9:41 am |
  13. Worry01

    Actually, many of the comments here are more bizarre than the piece. As for the road less travelled, It is one well worn by the likes of both Bushes, Clinton, and now Barack Obama. Pandering is as easy for a politician as leg spreading is for a streetwalker. There is no courage in it.

    August 27, 2010 at 5:10 am |
  14. Stealthen

    Another intellectually lazy, ignorant spouts off about Islam. Next!

    August 26, 2010 at 11:52 pm |
    • Logan

      I know you're not talking to me.

      August 27, 2010 at 12:30 am |
  15. Logan

    NO,"WE" are NOT all muslims, and I resent the implications of worshipping a pedophile and a murderer. I know better than that.

    I am offended & demand an apology before I riot. ....Oooops,I forgot, I'm not in the group that always gets their demands met, guess I'll just have to go off and sulk in a corner or change my "religion"..

    August 26, 2010 at 11:20 pm |
  16. KansasGirl

    Hey Bloomberg, speak for yourself. I'm a Baptist.

    August 26, 2010 at 7:58 pm |
  17. Ali Sina

    Bloomburg, First things first. When are getting circumcised?
    Are you planning to exercise your right of having 4 wifes. Here is insiders information. You can beat your wife(ves) if they did not oblige for sex or minute things.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  18. secular

    Petro $$$ have created Ayotullah, 911 and countles such acts, incl. Abdul Rauf of ground zero fame. Stop this madness, stop import of middle east oil.

    August 26, 2010 at 4:30 pm |
  19. David in West Virginia

    Why is it that Mayor Bloomberg, a Republican, can comment that the Muslim Welcome Center is consitutionally within their rights to build and no republican is outraged; however, when President Barack Obama makes the same remarks, he is criticized by all. By the way, I totally agree with both that this center is within the constitution. It's just that many Americans that claim to be so christian, fail miserably to live up to Christ's standard for us all, and that is to love one another. Many of us know that there is no tolerance on the right for anyone who does not agree with their thinking whether it be Christian or Muslim.

    August 26, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
  20. Ron Hyder

    So now that I have read these posts; To all you redneck (or otherwise) bigots, how are you and your kind any different than the Terrorists?
    – you are as bigoted as them
    – your intellect is as basic as theirs
    -your understanding of world religions is as basic as theirs
    -your hatred for them is as bad as theirs for you

    -your army does your dirty work instead of you doing it your self
    -you strip your women instead of over cladding them
    -your government plans the terror plots instead of you
    -they are dying of hunger and you of overeating
    -you have access to the internet and they dont

    August 26, 2010 at 1:32 pm |
    • Logan

      Yeah, yeah, yeah, anyone who dares to speak the truth is labelled and called a "bad" name in the hopes it will shut them up.

      Newsfash! It doesn't work anymore. Name calling is always the first thing lefties do and guess what, it's worn thin. Next time don't waste your breath because I'm one of many who is NOT afraid of being called a name. Bring it on.

      August 26, 2010 at 11:26 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.