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. Joe From Woodbridge, NJ

    Excellent observation Mr. Bloomberg, we are all muslims.
    Gotta run, I'm helping to build the Catholic Church next to Windsor Castle!

    August 25, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
  2. Mark

    Bloomberg should speak for himself. I am not a Muslim, Christian, Hundu, Jew, etc. Meanwhile, common sense dictates that they build their mosque somewhere other than near Ground Zero. This is not prejudicial, but rather simple common sense and respect.

    August 25, 2010 at 12:47 pm |
    • RickRolled

      Gotta say that common sense has nothing to do with your personal opinion. Sorry.

      August 25, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
    • fairness-for-all

      got to say common sense and personal opinion draw a thin line, when danger is involved.

      August 25, 2010 at 1:16 pm |
  3. MJ

    Am I the only one tired of all of this MOOSLIM crap being shoved down our throats???

    August 25, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
    • archie bunker

      Mooslim??? right on BillyBob

      August 25, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
  4. Chris R


    Man made religions? Do you mean everything other than Christianity? How does that work with the whole 'Jesus was a Jew' thing? If anything, Christianity is a man made religion as Jesus wasn't trying to create a new religion – he was attempting to reform Judaism to make it a better religion for Jews. Paul is the one that basically decided to branch out and create a new offshoot of Judaism.

    August 25, 2010 at 12:45 pm |
  5. JamersonDel

    Come on Bloomberg, Christians, Muslims, and Jews have fought wars over their religions. The Holy Land has been soaked in blood spilled in the name of religion. I don't think the symbolic building of a Muslim Center in nyc will help the opinions of the Muslim people in the middle east who probably don't have access to western news networks anyway. If anything, use that money to build a school or something in Afghanistan. Or a mosque. Or a Starbucks.

    August 25, 2010 at 12:45 pm |
  6. hoocuu

    Honestly, if this mosque is actually built, I would not be surprised if was attacked by a domestic terrorist. I could see a Timothy McVeigh type making this their mission. Sad but true, and you reap what you sow.

    August 25, 2010 at 12:44 pm |
    • Billy

      "You reap what you sow..."

      Yeah I guess the kids who died at the Murrah Building daycare really got what was comin' to them, right?

      August 25, 2010 at 12:52 pm |
    • hoocuu


      Hmmm, I think I miscommunicated what I meant.

      August 25, 2010 at 12:54 pm |
  7. RespiratoryPause

    Bloomberg should be removed from office. He is an elitist that finds political gain in bowing to Islam, plain and simple. The overwhelming majority of Americans don't want to see this mosque built so close to ground zero. Why then do they not, in the spirit of improved relations, pick another site? It is terribly difficult not to consider this a "victory mosque".

    August 25, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
    • Joe

      First you have get out of your biggoted box. Then all seem much easier to understand.
      I see more good from allowing the mosque there. And our principles are stronger!

      August 25, 2010 at 1:04 pm |
    • RickRolled

      Yes, he bowed to an equality that's guaranteed in our Constitution to ALL Americans. How dare he?!

      August 25, 2010 at 1:07 pm |
    • buke56

      By not erecting the mosque you give our enemies a victory. You are actually saying that US ideology is no longer valid because we are too scared of you to allow the freedom of religion to Muslim Americans. Muslim Americans that have fought and died as US soldiers in Iraq. America is ashamed of you because your ideology is the same as those who would oppose us.

      August 25, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
    • RespiratoryPause

      I understand the points you are making, but I believe you are over thinking this. I'm no more a bigot than the other humans on this planet, but this is clearly a "victory mosque". Have YOU guys stopped to think that maybe, just maybe, you are actually looking at this the wrong way? I have quite a bit believe it or not the logic just doesn't hold up. There is no real reason to continue with plans to build this mosque so close to ground zero. The Towers went down in the name of Islam, there is no denying this. Those behind this mosque would do right by the victims of 911 and all of Islam to simply hold up a hand and say "no problem, we'll move a little farther away". Only then does Islam win (they have softened their image to the American eye) and everyone is happy.

      August 25, 2010 at 3:29 pm |
  8. shilpy

    the mideast peace is being worked out right here in new york city. there is no such thing as american interest any more, for usa is a mere cash cow to be milked by anybody and everybody and his brother. who needs george mitchell now?
    the gallant mayor guiliani rejected a hefty saudi donation after 9/11, and he rejects this mosque, but his insane mayor bloomerg makes you want to puke. this charade must not be tolerated.

    August 25, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
  9. AntiWar

    Religion cannot be above Mankind. Can a good writer post a nice article about that on CNN.
    CNN needs to stop posting provoative headlines.

    August 25, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
  10. PDC

    Bloomberg lost it

    August 25, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
    • RickRolled

      I finally have more respect for the guy.

      August 25, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
  11. phillip Marlowe

    Does anyone think Bloomberg would be demonstrating this lunacy if he was going to run for mayor again. He is no longer eligible so he's become a complete loon. Can we impeach this man for idiocy?

    August 25, 2010 at 12:40 pm |
    • archie bunker

      It takes one to know one, however, mayor Bloomberg has more balls than most men in this country. That's why he's not afraid of speaking the truth.

      August 25, 2010 at 1:04 pm |
  12. revolting peasant

    When I read this blog, what I realize is that a lot of people either believe that the US is in a war against Islam or that we should be in such a war. Do people really want that? Do they want our country to take on 1/4 of the world's population and declare a cultural and/or military war? I imagine that this is what Osama Bin Laden wanted to stir up with the 9/11 attacks, so maybe he will get his way after all.

    August 25, 2010 at 12:40 pm |
    • Jeff A.

      revolting peasant:

      "When I read this blog, what I realize is that a lot of people either believe that the US is in a war against Islam or that we should be in such a war. Do people really want that? Do they want our country to take on 1/4 of the world's population and declare a cultural and/or military war? I imagine that this is what Osama Bin Laden wanted to stir up with the 9/11 attacks, so maybe he will get his way after all."

      Are you afraid ? Put you in charge, and the Muslim tsunami in America will become the next North Korea, too big and too well armed, and too organized to tell them where to get off !! Not a great plan,


      August 25, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  13. JRR

    I could have sworn one of the primary reasons this country being in existance, was freedom of religion. I missed the part that said except for Muslims and anyone else we decide to hate. If a Baptist extremist blows up a building, do we burn down all the Baptist churches? And we had better keep an eye on the Catholics, I heard a couple of them were getting out of hand.
    usmc1 and others are total MORONS. I hate to tell you this, but we are overseas fighting now to protect the rights of everyone including Muslims.
    Get you pointed little heads out of your behinds.

    August 25, 2010 at 12:40 pm |
    • emo

      Islam doesnt believe in freedom of religion. There is no constitutional right to build any house of worship where ever one pleases. Liberals new found love of religious freedom is so very transparent. What liberals love is that Islam hates America. The left/islam alliance is nothing new.

      August 25, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  14. Pastor Evans

    Religious people and Politicians who for the most part are all religious don't know GOD!!! They claim to know GOD with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him!!! If you would simply look at the doctrines of all the different religions they are different. If this is the case then we are saying GOD is confused, which He is not!!! People are lost and confused and it is reflected in the fact of the direction of this society and culture is going!!! No matter how many stupid decisions they keep making and how bad things continue to get year after year, they continue doing the same things the same way!!! This is the definition of insanity, and they are insane because our society as a whole is all the proof we need!!! Keep rejecting Jesus Christ and you'll always fail but your rejection has no affect on those of us who choose to trust and believe in Him!!! Amen!!!

    August 25, 2010 at 12:38 pm |
  15. 10watcher

    We are all muslims???? Is this guy insane or what?

    August 25, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
    • chris

      im a yankee fan

      August 25, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
  16. dsny

    usmc1...sounds like a Jarhead response.

    August 25, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
  17. joldham

    This country need to get a set of huge furry ones back and stand up to the things that are going on in OUR country. We don't need to cow tail to all special interests groups. We as humanbs are getting so greedy and selfish we are losing all perspective of the actual freedoms our country was founded upon. We don't need to just go along with every idea thrown out there. We need to say enough is enough and take our country back!!. Illegals and Terrorists are NOT welcome here!!!!!

    August 25, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
  18. JGS

    RELIGION IS JOKE PEOPLE! look at how many lives have been lost not only to the muslim religion but to every religion. open your eyes, quit using a god as a wall to lean on be your own person and live your own life.

    August 25, 2010 at 12:36 pm |
    • joldham

      JGS... You've a lot to learn. Remember, every knee will bow and every mouth shall confess JESUS IS LORD.. You may not belive it now but you will. ETERNITY is a very long time... You may enjoy your time here now but it will change...
      I'll pray for your soul and maybe you will see the light and accept JESUS CHRIST as your personal Savior before it's too late.

      August 25, 2010 at 12:45 pm |
    • Stephen

      How do you know that JESUS IS LORD? That belief is purely a product of the culture in which you were raised. If you were born in China you would be saying BUDDHA IS LORD. If you were born in Ancient Greece you would be saying ZEUS IS LORD. Never questioning it, out of fear that your "afterlife" depends on it.

      If I were God, I would respect people who ask questions and seek knowledge about the universe through science. I would not award points for blind adherence to cultural norms.

      August 25, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
  19. John Toradze

    By the way. This Prothero is not a scholar. His idea of "research" is to talk to a colleague he knows over lunch and leave it at that. He is one of these fake "scholars" who get a degree without every learning how to think straight or research anything.

    August 25, 2010 at 12:36 pm |
  20. BradW

    Amazing how a little common sense and political courage can make the whining bigots look so small.

    August 25, 2010 at 12:35 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.