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Imam, Preacher, Rabbi on Islamic Center Near Ground Zero

A preacher, a rabbi, and an imam talk about faith relations in America as the debate over the Manhattan Islamic center rolls on.

People participate in a rally against a proposed mosque and Islamic community center near Ground Zero in New York, Aug. 22, 2010. (AP)

The controversy over the proposed Islamic Community Center near the former World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan has gone loudly, fully national. Gone global, really. 

Politicians and fundamentalists are making hay on the emotions and fear and offense around the issue. There are angry protests at the site. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg loudly defends the plan as a test and proof of American values.

Today, we talk with three prominent religious thinkers – a preacher, an imam, and a rabbi – about how they see what’s unfolding. We look at Islam, and faith relations in America now.

-Tom Ashbrook


Imam Mahdi Bray, a civic activist who serves as executive director of Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, a Washington-based advocacy group affiliated with the Muslim American Society.

Martin Marty, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago Divinity School, where he taught for 35 years. He was a pastor in the Lutheran Church. He’s author of many books, including “Our Hope for Years to Come: The Search for Spiritual Sanctuary” and “The One and the Many: America’s Struggle for the Common Good.”

Rabbi Avi Weiss, leader of Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, a large synagogue in that suburb of New York City. He was a ‘”clerical first responder” at Ground Zero on 9/11 and the days that followed. In 1989, he led the protests against the building of a Carmelite convent near Auschwitz, and in 1995 led similar protests against the building of the church at the site of the nearby Birkenau camp.

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  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    In the United States this should be a non issue. We have freedom of religion here, period. That anyone in this country would stereotype an entire group for the actions of a few is so un American it boggles the mind.

    I’m still waiting for the Obama “Philadelphia race speech” on this issue and the sooner he makes it the better. I’m afraid he won’t because of a political calculation that it will hurt Democrats. This too is wrong and demonstrates a lack of leadership.

    Is this the beginning of another “red scare?” Maybe Newt will be the next Joe McCarthy? If we go down that road again we will have learned nothing.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    A great Troubletown by Lloyd Dangle:

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Sorry, I thought I could post the cartoon. Here’s the link:


  • Joshua Hendrickson

    Why is it that most of the protests I see in the media are always being organized by flag-waving bigoted right wingers? Could it just be media bias in favor of conservative points of view? Or is it, as William Butler Yeats put it in THE SECOND COMING:

    “The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.”

    I’m telling you people, that poem just gets more and more relevant with every passing year. I don’t believe in prophecy, but I can’t deny that Yeats, with his keen artistic eye and his place in history at the beginning of this mad modern era, was probably on to something:

    “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethelehem to be born?”

    What indeed?

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Some people have the guts to take a side on this issue:

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg:

    Dick Cavett:

    Frank Rich:

    Glenn Greenwald:

    Ron Paul:

    John Stewart:

    I wish I could post a link to a great speech by Obama. The fact that he’s not using this issue to discuss the misperception by a growing number of Americans that he’s not a muslim (but so what if he was?) and that this issue follows a long line of American demonstrations of fear ginned up by politicians, most notably McCarthy’s red scare and the resulting blacklisting of thousands of “suspected communists.”

    I think it must be part of the American character to have no memory and this is a real shame, we’re doomed to go through things like this forever.

  • Zeno

    This tempest in a tea-party, reminds me the Tawana Brawley case many years ago. It was a hot button issue used to fan the flames of race hatred by Al Sharpton and others. The fact that is was a complete lie had no effect on it’s ability to stay in the headlines for years and to make and break political careers.

    We all know stories like this shouldn’t even be news worthy and yet they are constantly in the news.

    George Orwell is the prophet who saw it all…the unending wars with anyone, (as long as it is constant), the Soma sold on the TV, the NewSpeak manipulation of the media, the rotten decaying infrastructure, the policing of thoughts and personal behavior, purification of the society, etc…

    “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?… Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?… The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact, there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”
    - George Orwell, 1984

  • jeffe

    There is a growing wave or maybe it’s a tsunami of anti Islamic rhetoric rising along with the anti-illegal immigrant issues. Both seem to be fueled by the same people on the right. In Europe this is getting worse than it is here, so much so that in some countries such as Denmark an anti immigrant nationalist party has now gained power. This is being seen in cities all over Europe and now we are seeing this here. The community center has been known by the city of New York since 2009 and it is obvious to me that this recent set of events is cheap political pandering to the fears of the insecurities brought on by the economic downturn.

    We now have a church planing to burn Korans in Gainesville, Florida. The Dove World Outreach Center plans to hold an “International Burn a Koran Day” on September 11. I keep hearing people who are are saying that Islam wants to take over the world. Well here’s a little note to these folks, so does every other religion I can think of.

    The Catholic church has missionaries as does the Mormon church and the fastest growing Evangelical sect are the Pentecostals who are all over the world attempting to convert people toward their religious dogma. It would seem to me that all religions want to be the dominant and part of the whole game is spreading the gospel.

    Using the the threat of Sharia law seems nothing more than smoke screen for wanting to find a scapegoat.
    Come to think of there are some aspects of Sharia law in banking and usury that seem pretty sound to me.

    That said I don’t see any other religions biblical laws superseding any of our common laws. There are some sects of the Mormon church that still practice polygamy and I don’t see to many people running around protesting this.
    In the Orthodox and Hasidim Jewish communities there are Rabbinical courts that are resolving conflicts and passing down verdicts on in civic and religious disputes. I don’t see anyone bringing this up and protesting in front of Jewish centers.

    Lets call this what it is, pure bigotry, period.

    One interesting event that has come to light in all of this is how FOX news has played this up to a fervor and are now doing a “follow the money” from mosque builder Imam Rauf to terrorists which is interesting because it leads right back to Fox News. Fox continued to mention a nameless man with ties to Imam Rauf through the “Kingdom Foundation.” It turns out the man they are referring to but never name is Saudi prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, one of the biggest shareholders of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Thank you Huffington Post.



    Hmmm… the plot thickens…

  • michael

    Glenn Geewald did a piece on this and talk about the protestor of this video nastyness to anyone looking muslim or thought of to be.


    The episode in the video begins when, as John Cole put it, “some black guy made the mistake of looking Muslimish and was harassed and nearly assaulted by the collection of lily white mouth-breathers at the event . . . At about 25 seconds in, he quite astutely points out to the crowd that ‘All y’all dumb motherfrs don’t even know my opinion on sht’.” As this African-American citizen (whom the videographer claims is a union carpenter who works at Ground Zero) is instructed to leave by what appears to be some sort of security or law enforcement official, the crowd proceeds to yell: “he musta voted for Obama,” “Mohammed’s a pig,” and other assorted charming anti-mosque slogans. I really encourage everyone to watch this to see the toxicity this campaign has unleashed:

    Anti-muslim Rally at Ground Zero’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwaNRWMN-F4&feature=player_embedded

  • jeffe

    Why is my comment being moderated?

  • jeffe

    Is everyone experiencing this message?: Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  • Michael

    As well turns out a prince of saudi A who fox was trying to demonize saying he gave money to the Center without using his name or face and turns out that he has the largest stake in newscorp and fox news second only to Rupert Murdoch


    the above Jon uses the same reasoning to attack fox news that fox uses to attack the center.

    Team Mohammed debates

  • jeffe

    Thanks. You beat to the Murdoch and Saudi prince Al-Waleed bin Talal story. Follow the money indeed.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    My comment with multiple links is in moderation too:

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Dick Cavett, Frank Rich, Glenn Greenwald, Ron Paul, and John Stewart have excellent things to say about this.

    Yes, that’s Ron Paul.

    I wish I could post a link to a great speech by Obama. The fact that he’s not using this issue to discuss the misperception by a growing number of Americans that he’s a muslim (but so what if he was?) and that this issue follows a long line of American demonstrations of fear ginned up by politicians, most notably McCarthy’s red scare and the resulting blacklisting of thousands of “suspected communists.”

    I think it must be part of the American character to have no memory and this is a real shame, we’re doomed to go through things like this forever.

  • Ray

    I propose that our Christian and Jewish community have a day of fasting and prayer during Ramadan. Maybe even a fast breaking with our Muslim brothers and sisters.

    We need to learn that Muslim neighbors have families and lives very much like our own.

    Knowledge can then replace fear.

    Three cups of tea will help our own people regain their civility.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I agree this is all about manipulation: How many are poor enough, desperate enough, or plain eager enough to be on the “obvious” “politically correct” side to be prodded to the polls this fall. Something like that.
    To me, the issue is: FOR ONCE, can we in America get this to BACKFIRE.
    If the pathetic and sophomoric “move” on “the plebes” (whatever the view may be) to gain their compliance is revealed for what it was, this country might take a turn toward sanity. The “movers and shakers” wouldn’t like it, but this is one way of reclaiming — umm, “taking back our country.” No, I’m not a Tea Partier, but I’ll use their slogans if need be.

  • Zeno

    Orwell wrote about the three religions as well, and I think it fits into this discussion as well:

    “The citizen of Oceania is not allowed to know anything of the tenets of the other two philosophies, but he is taught to execrate them as barbarous outrages upon morality and common sense. Actually, the three philosophies are barely distinguishable.”

    - George Orwell, 1984

  • John

    No atheist on the panel? We need someone to speak on freedom from religion too.

  • Not a Chance

    The mosque brew-haha is nothing more than Republicans knowing what will rile up simpleton conservatives in an election year.

    As ever, Republican politicians revel in their skill at manipulating their simple-minded base, laughing all the way to the polls and ultimately to their bank accounts, once they again get their hands on the nation’s purse strings following the November elections.

    The mosque is absolutely, completely benign, short of being an excuse for Republicans to win over more of the ignorant and easily startled

  • Ellen Dibble

    In many ways, religion is organized ignorance, admitting we aren’t in control, but nonetheless we come together in that helplessness and thereby are less helpless. Religion has that word “ligature” at its heart, that which binds. It has always been “we” with a “them” who are not thus bound. Then we find that the “them” are also bound by a religion. I heard the Imam Faisal Rauf (I’m forgetting a name in the middle) say he included in those going to heaven all those who believe in ONE god, but wouldn’t presume to say who would go and who wouldn’t. Nor was he defining heaven. But to my mind, those who are “free from religion” are mostly proclaiming their independence from the “organization,” the way the “signs” divide the “we” from the “them,” and I don’t think they are proclaiming their independence from the depth of our unknowing, the smallness of our sinful and prideful selves in the face of all we are ignorant. We only have the five senses, after all. Or is it seven… We confess we are wicked, small-minded idiots, but we are together in this. Being together is the heart of it, and more and more so, as the world shrinks.

  • http://bruceguindon.com bruce guindon

    stupid, why is this even a issue in a country that starts with the search for religion freedom and expression or is this really about selling papers, increasing viewers or just stupid

  • Mike in PA

    As a conservative, I am ashamed that my “party” is not seeing this as a private property right and nothing more. If I were Republican president for the day, I would say, “this is a local issue, let the citizens of New York and their elected officials handle this…now let’s talk about jobs and the economy!!!!”


    What are your guests’ educated guesses as to what will happen if a Jewish organization attempts to host a conference about the plight of Israeli Jews in the Middle East at the proposed conference center?

  • Mario Valdes

    One way in which the Brits seem to have counteracted this level of Islamaphobia is by reminding the nation that the Queen, through one of her Spanish lines, is descended from the prophet Mohammed, himself. Perhaps it might help if it were pointed out to New Yorkers that many of the “400 Hundred,” including families such as the Whitneys and the Vanderbilts are descendants of Anthony Van Salee, the city’s first Moslem settler – and a black one, as well.

  • Gerry

    Those of you who seem to hate America – the most generous caring country that has ever existed – are slowly destroying yourselves and probably those around you. Lighten up – try love not hate.

  • http://wbur Paul

    Can you imagine Bin Laden’s glee as he shows his followers videos of American politicians making Islamophobic statements? To them, this rhetoric proves that we ARE actually at war with Islam and not with terrorists.

    We’re doing more damage to ourselves than Bin Laden could ever hope to do.

  • John

    I have no problem with the Islamic center in NY. However, there are legitimate criticisms of Islam that need to be addressed as Muslims become more of a presence in the US: Sharia law, repression of women, repression of gays, burkas, head scarves, cartoon riots, death threats to Salman Rushdie, murder of Theo van Gogh, etc. I welcome anyone who wants to come here but anyone who does needs to recognize our western values and liberties.

  • Jim

    Because I have grown weary of this non-sequitur, will people PLEASE stop trying to draw an equivalency between what the United States should allow and what repressive countries like Egypt or Saudi Arabia might allow (i.e. the moronic “if you can’t build a synagogue in the middle east, why should we allow a mosque in the U.S.?”

    How about because we AREN’T THOSE COUNTRIES.

    Would you also embrace tactics of Nazis “because the Nazis did it”?

    Childish and dumb blathering that doesn’t rise to the level or rational argument. Just sayin’

  • C. Anwar

    Quit referring to it as “Islamophobia,” please. That makes it sound more benign than the anti-Islamic bias that it is. Diversi-phobic is not a term used for racists.

    I hardly think it is “sacred ground” which serves to intensify the whole issue.

    To think that Americans who happen to practice Islam are/were not affected deeply by the events of 9/11 is ridiculous.

  • kellie paige

    Thankg-d for NPR. We should ban Fox. Here is my point of view. 1) 9/11 happened to all of us. Not just NY.
    2) Religious freedom aside please consider that outside America, Japan does not have an AMerican cultural center in Hiroshima or Nagasaki at the site or any proximity to it, nor do a long list of nations that have had other atrocities inflicted on them.
    3)What happened was horrific and tragic but that does not excuse the very un-American and un-civilized behaviour of the american population to a race of people to practice their religion in this country.

    My question is why is that in AMerica these issues are always hijacked and mixed up in a way that only divides this nation? THis matter would not have arisen if there were intelligent and humanitarian leadership in this country.

  • Pat Churchman

    I agree with those who are saying it’s a tempest in a teapot. The more it gets stirred up, the more the radical crazies come out of where they dwell. The man last night in Kentucky or somewhere who voted against their mosque saying it would take up parking spots he needed for his business, but the Baptists wouldn’t, if they got the site!!! I hope this will just die down. It’s very unAmerican to oppose this, but we’ve acted in very unAmerican ways before.

  • Eliza Garfield

    Why is it that we are spending so much time on this issue and not engaging in a robust discussion of the freedoms guaranteed in this country? Freedom of religion is only one aspect of this – what about freedom of assembly – this is the same right the Tea Party is enjoying – but not Muslim? What about the issue of whether or not Obama is a muslim – this is not about his faith – it is about our commitment not to engage in religious tests for political office.

    Sure civility needs to be addressed – but once we put the discussion in the right context – civility requires us to celebrate the establishment of this mosque, Celebrating the discussion and education, and the right to assembly, we are all likely to gain from. Civility also requires us to allow Obama his religious persuasion whatever it is – just as each of us has a right to our own beliefs as well – that is civility, wisdom and in this country, it is law.

  • brandstad


    Can you ask your guest the following questions?

    Does your guest support Hammas?

    Does your guest support sharia law becoming part of the US justice system?

  • George Potts

    The Cordoba center name should be changed to the Ramzi Yousef Center.

    “It’s fun to go to the R-Y-C in N-Y-C.” This stuff just writes itself.

  • Not a Chance


    More absurd scare-mongering!

    There have been mosques in the US for more than a hundred years, yet we haven’t had to support Hamas or adopt Sharia yet… try to elevate the discussion above the moronic.

  • BHA

    Should we remove all Catholic and general Christian churches near the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City since
    Timothy McVeigh was a Christian and raised Catholic?

  • Carole Simmons

    Here’s my idea for Ground Zero:

    A central Peace Plaza, surrounded by churches/temples for each of the world’s five major religions.

    We should honor the Truth and Goodness at the core of all faiths.

  • Ellen Dibble

    If the proposed Islamic cultural center took as part of its mission (as it almost seems to) outreach, inclusiveness, letting those of other faiths participate in the activities there, then it would do what the rabbi wants for a faith-based center near Ground Zero. In the American spirit, put a place of coming together there, a faith-based one. And in the spirit of grappling with our fears of Muslim extremists, let us let the Muslims take the lead in doing this.

  • George Potts

    Obama doesn’t support the mosque anymore.

  • George Potts

    They were going to call it the Cordoba center, the same name of the beach head of Islam in the Middle Ages.

  • Tanya

    I can hardly believe that we’re still talking about this. Islam did not attack us on 911, extremism and hatred did. Regardless of religious background, if we understand this simple truth, it shouldn’t be an issue.

  • RBP

    The problem isn’t (in alphabetical order) Christians, Jews, or Muslims. It is *fundamentalist* Christians, Jews, and Muslims (of whatever sects in these religions).

  • George Potts

    Oh, wait, Obama never supported the Mosque at ground zero.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Judaism, Christianity, and Islam battle with each other with such intensity because they are all three siblings. They worship the same God and draw from the same cultural and mythical sources.

    That having been said, any of the three would make an effective core religion in America. The real question is what type of the religion wins. Americans have always been deeply religious, but we do have a set of values that are in conflict.

    We value individual liberty; we value being religious, but we also value converting others to truth. (By we, I mean a strong point of view that has been held by the many and the influential through all of our history.) The Bill of Rights was a defining statement of our valuing personal rights, as was the American Revolution. The fact that America is filled with churches (and synagogues and mosques) despite having no official religion shows our need for religion. It may even be the result of our govenment leaving us free to believe. We have sent missionaries, soldiers, and businesspersons all over to remake the world in our image.

    Note that these three values, when pushed to the extreme, contradict each other. What kind of Islam, what kind of Judaism, and what kind of Christianity is practiced here will determine whether they can be a truly American religion–a religion that is deeply held and loudly proclaimed, but not forced on anyone else.

  • Rex

    Maybe we should rethink building a library in honor of George W. Bush. He’s pretty much responsible for the deaths of more people (Iraq) than the number who died in the World Trade Center and no one is questioning his religion?
    Should we go that far?

  • Kevin

    what happens when an individual from this group goes “postal”. Can it be guaranteed that we won’t see a radical individual take matters into his/her own hands.

  • brandstad

    Not a Chance,

    You should do your research so your comments don’t look so uninformed. The learder of the Cordoba center has supported Sharia Law in the US and Hammas as well as having clear ties to Iran. He chose the name of the project as Cordoba because Cordoba is a historic site in Spain that muslums took by force from the christians.

    There are too many bad connections to the guy that is running the Cordoba center show.

    I also laugh at the people that say the Cordoba center is not anywhere near ground zero. The building itself was hit by parts of the airplains so it IS GROUND Zero!

  • http://fibrowitch.blogspot.com/ Jan D

    Two years ago this would have been a non issue for me. That is until a mosque was built in my neighborhood. Now, I am against the building of this and any new mosque. My neighborhood has been changed for the worse. No longer can people walk safely past the building without be hassled. People sitting on the beach, wearing normal warm weather beach clothing get hassled. As a person with a service dog, I have had pebbles and fire crackers tossed at me as I walk down the street.

    I have no idea if this is a radical or moderate mosque. I am to tired of being hassled, and honestly to afraid to ask. I wish I could move away from the mosque, or at least get the people attending it, and living in the neighborhood to live and let live with the people who were already here.

  • Dave

    This is all so lame. If 9/11 was a wake up call to anything, it was just how ridiculous it is that modern society takes supernatural religions seriously at all, and how dangerous and counterproductive tolerating fundamentalist supernatural world views are.

    We’ve griped about political-correctness for so long now, now it’s time to stand up against religious-correctness. How many truly honest, thinking people still believe in a supernatural creator, especially that “thier god” is the right one. I think the media is cowardly in always presenting religious issues as a legitimate concept, when they knew deep down it’s a counterproductive, irrational and as 9/11, the crusades, the taliban, fundamentalist settlers, christian nuts, etc demonstrate, a dangerous illusion.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Cordoba, as I understand it, marked Islam when it was secure and the leader, seeding and preceding the Renaissance. The Muslims in Spain set a standard of tolerance, thriving on using the energies of all.
    Correct me if I’m wrong.
    On the other hand, about the same time, the Christians were anything but tolerant. One crusade after another set off — I won’t get into the whole reasons and so on. But it was bloody and cruel and intolerant on the part of Christians. At that time.

  • Not a Chance


    You really need to expand your horizons beyond Beck and Limbaugh.

  • Wayne

    My View, It is not intolerance.

    I realize islam is a divererse religion with different sects and branches, conservtive and liberal and everything in between. Just like Catholics, Baptist, and Christians.
    Americans have a hard time understanding which Islam view is true, or real, and where the middle is.
    Unless islam comes together in ONE Voice and drown out the radical views, Americans will never trust antything they hear from any cleric. The New York mosk is a finger in our eye because There is no trust. Islam must have ONE true voice for Americans to understand and TRUST.

  • Imran Nasrullah

    As an American born Muslim, Islamophobia has always been there as an undercurrent, driven mostly be US policies vis-a-vis Israel and Middle East politics. 9/11 represents the culmination of 50 years of bad policy towards the Middle East; the expression of which has come out through religion. Americans by and large have been ignorant of our actions abroad, and sugar coated by America Exceptionalism and self-righteousness.

    Also religious and right wing polemicists since 9/11 have aggregated to write a religio-political narrative that constantly demonizes Islam and Muslims, and have done so without censure. We are now witnessing the results of that campaign.

  • Mark

    The Rabbi is full of it. So, you oppose a muslim community center near ground zero. If it were a YMCA, would you oppose it? This guy is full of it!

  • Armand Auclair

    I feel it is insensitive to build that close to Ground Zero. Mayor Bloomberg is wrong concerning his comment. If it is not a problem to erect this mosque so close to that area, then I guess there would not be a problem putting up a monument to Hitler outside the gates of Auschwitz. Not very sensitive to the neighborhood is it?

  • Kevin

    The YMCA didn’t attack us.

  • Brent Pallas

    I am listening to the program now. I have lived across the street from the World Trade Center for 25 years. I walk by the site every single day and see it out my window. My wife and I have experienced many feelings from 9/11. We were out of our place for 6 months. But one stands out: Before 9/11 when we traveled around the US and told people we lived in NYC they would say how could you? What a filthy, disgusting place. After 9/11 everyone in the US wanted a stake in it. To the point that some even told us things like: their Aunt almost visited the WTC 20 years ago. A shrink in Seattle told us half her patients (in Seattle) were feeling delayed stress from the event. Now I hear the Rabii staying how he appeared on the scene by noon. There is too much hero chest thumping over this event. We need to move on. We have spent more time on the so called ‘healing’ of this event than ww2 and ww1 combined. We need to grow up and get on with life. 10 years and only about 12 floors of one building has been built there. It’s a disgrace. And this non-event of the Mosque delays it more.

  • BHA

    Re the post by Kevin, on August 25th, 2010 at 10:25 AM

    OH PLEASE. Look at the national news. People going off the edge all over the place. Killing one or many people for some reason or another.

    MOST of them are not Muslims. The likelihood that someone who frequents the planned Islamic center going ‘postal’ is no greater than for the population as a whole.

  • brandstad

    So, assuming that this isn’t a radicalized mosque, there’s no criminal or terrorist-related activity in it — and there’s an update on that, standby — you should be able to build a mosque. And I’m sorry, that’s not popular, but that’s the way it is. We’re America.

    But the main complaint by many Muslim groups after 9/11 was that Americans hated them. The president said, I want to make sure that nobody rounds people up. Really?

    People have been worried about how Americans perceive Muslims. So my question has been: How does building a mosque right next to the place where radical Muslim terrorists murdered 3,000 Americans, how does that help improve the negative perception? Not really seeing the up-side there, especially — especially — reopening the scar because it comes as a slap in the face when you think, you know, wait a minute, when were they going to open that again?

    It doesn’t sit well with Americans. It probably sits as well as a Serbian orthodox church on the ground where 8,000 Muslims were slaughtered in Sebranka (ph) or — seriously, what is it? Srebrenica. Thank you very much. Whatever. Really? Are they going to build that there? No. Why? Because it would be a slap in the face. To describe it anything other than that is really a second slap in the face. And if they have a reason, well, I’d love to hear it.

    Now, here’s where it starts to shimmy apart. The Cordoba Center is going to cost at least $100 million. But, quote, “Exactly how the Cordoba Initiative will be financed remains unclear.” Hmm. That’s probably something that we should take into consideration. Don’t you think?

  • Marisa Coutts

    The funding of this mosque/complex… Please explain how this is OK! Building a Christian church anywhere in Saudi Arabia would be approved & welcomed as America & NYC is expected … ?!?!

    “The project’s $100 million funding is suspect — the money may come from Saudi Arabia (15 of the 19 murderers of 9/11 were Saudis).
    This innuendo is being circulated just as the U.S. is secretly negotiating a record $60-billion defence contract with Saudi Arabia. Saudi money is halal for armaments, haram for mosques.”
    — Haroon Siddiqui, Editorial Page Editor Emeritus, Toronto Star

    Source: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/article/850960–siddiqui-no-grounds-for-mosque-hysteria
    Retrieved: August 22, 2010

  • lenny in Vermont

    For 20 years I worked for a firm in the World Trade Center – in both Tower 1 and 7 WTC and experienced 9/11. There are some people I saw for the very last time on the morning of September 11, 2001. For years I suffered from the experience and I guess always will at least a little. I imagine that this gives me credentials at least as good as the rabbi on your program who wants the Muslim community center away from the site. I will tell you I am sick of the political posturing, the shouting, and the opportunism whether from Christians or Jews. I hear almost nothing from Muslims. Let it be built. It really makes NO difference. None. And it may have a positive and healing influence.

  • Ralph

    The anthropologist Akbar Ahmed has recently published an interesting book entitled “Journey Into America : The Challenge of Islam”. Besides containing a lot of illuminating interviews with people from all over the country, it traces some powerful threads in American identity. These threads can be clearly seen not only in current controversies involving Muslims like this one, but a heated discussion that has run deep in American popular culture over its entire history. The book is balanced, thoughtful, and well worth a read.

  • Deco

    DO you know the significance of the name of the proposed mosque?
    “The Cordoba House”
    It refers to Cordoba, Spain – the capital of Muslim conquerors who symbolized their victory over the Christian Spaniards by transforming a church there into the world’s third-largest mosque complex.

    Today, some of the Mosque’s backers insist this term is being used to “symbolize interfaith cooperation” when, in fact, every Islamist in the world recognizes Cordoba as a symbol of Islamic conquest.

    WHO is paying for this 13 story, $100 million megamosque??

  • brandstad

    Feisal Abdul-Rauf is a clear and key figure in the Perdana Global Peace Organization. Wow! That sounds wonderful because it’s got “peace” right there in the name. Yes. Abdul-Rauf, he’s right there on Perdana’s website. See? Right there is the website, under “role players and contributors.” It’s very nice.

    Perdana, the peace group, is the single biggest honor — $366,000 — of the Free Gaza Movement. Free Gaza, why do I know Free Gaza? There’s Free Gaza. Oh, yes, Free Gaza. They were the key organizer of the six-ship flotilla that tried to bust through Israel’s blockade and then stabbed Israeli soldiers as they boarded the ship. And, of course, the flotilla was also helped by Hamas-supported groups — which is always good when you can say, “Hey, Hamas is with us, too.”

  • MC

    All religion does is divide, as proven by your program.

    How about the point of an atheist?

  • Delia Windwalker

    Quakers have raised concern that this fervor will escalate at the close of Ramadan when breaking fast in celebration falls this year on September 10th.

  • BHA

    Hitler personally had millions of Jews tortured and killed.

    The religion of Islam did not hijack planes on 9/11

  • Marisa Coutts

    Caller says “We can’t demonize one religion because of a few …” Well, as one of millions of passengers, I and many of these millions feel “demonized” and scrutinized routinely by the US govt/TSA because of a few terrorists.

  • wendy gronbeck

    I guess if it’s a matter of sacred ground, those protestors will be seeing to it that this ground is returned to the Native Americans?

  • http://None Bill Nugent

    Hi Tom,

    According to Time Magazine the Murfreesboro mosque is 6800 sq. ft. and the local tea party said it was huge – http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2011847,00.html

  • Ellen Dibble

    The caller is talking about Islam being “in crisis,” too many of them into misogyny and so on.
    For one thing, consider if a Catholic wanted to turn Catholicism away from its misogyny (no women priests). What a challenge! And that’s with a highly hierarchical religion, a clear channel up to the pope. Or say a Unitarian wanted to reform the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Good luck with that!
    Second point: If there are extremists in Islam, the way to address that ABOVE ALL is to encourage the NON-extremists. Not saying they can browbeat the al-Kaida, but they can set an example.
    A quarter of the human population is Muslim. What proportion of that would be extremist?

  • Rick

    How about someone asking these guests the obvious question: What would God (or Jesus or Mohammed or Abraham or Jahweh or Allah) do??? What’s the DIVINE thing to do??? That’s supposed to be the vocation of all three of these guys, isn’t it???

  • Not a Chance

    All the world is “Ground Zero” when it comes to religious fanaticism, fundamentalsim, aggression, and intolerance.


    They are an insensitive offense to anyone who desires peace and a decent world.

  • brandstad

    Let’s take the imam, Feisal. And he is a contributor to Perdana. Perdana is the Free Gaza people who did the six-ship flotilla, which is nice.

    That’s Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, they also helped here. And the six-ship flotilla is, of course, related to Hamas. You know, those people — aye-aye-aye — boom! Those people.

    Now, so you have that’s a pretty good circle here, ain’t it? What do you think? We should look into something like this, but we can’t because Barack Obama, who is friends with Rashid Khalidi who is going to do yet another six-ship flotilla like this one. He’s going to do this one in September and he’s calling it the “Audacity of Hope” — which is weird because that’s Barack Obama’s book. Check it on Amazon. Let’s find out where it is now because it’s going to shoot up — last night was “Dreams From My Father.” Tonight, “Audacity of Hope.”

  • Kerry Doyle

    It’s all xenophobia perhaps dressed-up as religious intolerance. It’s the same reaction and prejudice and hate-driven reactions to any immigrant issue at the moment. Two sides of the same coin. People would react the same if it was just an immigrant center or Arabic immigration center and there was no prayer room at all. It’s misdirection to call it anti-Islam, it’s anti-immigrant, xenophobia, nativism pure and simple. It should be called what it is.

  • Grace F.

    It is so good that you have Avi Weiss who does not give the expected response that would be given by a “liberal” rabbi who would say it is just wonderful to have this mosque at this location. As it happens, this location is not the right place for a mosque and the site would not be open to all the way, say, the JCC on the upper west side of Manhattan really does have all sorts of people as members, not just Jews. Who will be welcome to swim at this Islamic Center, for example, or to attend classes as a non-Muslim? It is just blah blah blah to say the American thing to do is to welcome the center at this location. Believe it or not, in the Koran, Muslims are told to take over the world and we are idiots to be open to that aspect of Islam. It is perceived as a weakness by Islamists and the opening to US destruction even if this particular mosque is run by more “liberal” Muslims.

    That you have invited Avi Weiss speaks well for you. Christiane Amanpour only invited Rabbi Joy Levitt who is predictably not speaking for Jews who find this center insulting to the US.

  • brandstad

    Now, what did this moderate say just a few days after 9/11? Well, of course, what all moderates would say, quote, “I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened, but United States policies were an accessory to the crime that did happen.”

    Now, let me ask you this: Would a moderate imam, a peaceful Muslim employ another imam who told an Arabic language website that, quote, “Only the Jews could have perpetrated the 9/11 attack.” That kind of sounds like Jeremiah Wright, doesn’t it? And if Americans only knew that it was the Jews’ fault, they, quote, “would have done to Jews what Hitler did,” end quote. And that Jews, quote, “disseminate corruption in the land and spread heresy, homosexuality, alcoholism and drugs.”

    Oh, that’s the kind of moderate imam I’ve been looking for right there at Ground Zero. How about you?

    Would be — I’d have to ask Time magazine, the Muslim leader right-wing commentators fantasize about — would that guy refuse to denounce Hamas as a terrorist organization? No? Well, he did. He did all of those things.

  • Ellen Dibble

    When Rabbi Weiss talks about not demonizing those opposed to the community center, I think that he seems to be one involved in the issue from before it exploded into the size and scope it is now. At the level where New York’s planning boards were considering it, they would be asking various things, weighing this and that, and the Imam and others who are planning and funding and designing the community center, would be (hopefully) listening to what the larger New York lower Manhattan community was looking for. So that’s another issue to me. It was a local debate. Now we’ve got a national debate, which might not be a bad thing.

  • Kevin

    I’m not afraid of the religion. I’m afraid of the sect which could use this as an infiltration point.
    I’m afraid of the individuals.

  • Dan

    I was raised in a very conservative christian family where god is part of daily life. As I’ve grown into my own I’ve separated from those beliefs to one of post-theism. Having lived on both sides of christianity I now see it as a radical element in American society. Those who consider themselves true believers honestly view themselves as part of a heavenly war against evil. Tolerance and acceptance of philosophies different from their interpretation of the bible are counterproductive to winning their heavenly war. For all the good religion can bring to one’s life, it creates much more suffering in the world. I am embarrassed for humanity that we still persecute each other over superstition.

  • jeffe

    brandstad you’re good at twisting and turning this debate into a diatribe. However your efforts are so transparent.
    You are only amplifying the anti-Muslim rhetoric.

    Opinions are not facts.

  • John

    If it is only a minority that holds extreme views, why are so many women repressed in Muslim countries? Where was the widespread Muslim protest of the death threats to Salman Rushdie? Where are the thriving gay communities in the Islamic world?

  • Nancy

    I am a devout Christian in Murfreesboro, Tennessee who fully supports the rights of my Muslim neighbors to construct a worship and community space. The space they want to build includes a swimming pool and recreation areas, thus making the square footage issue a red herring. Our county has a population of approximately 250,000 and has been the home of a peaceful Islamic Center for over ten years. A fuller understanding of the planned usage of the facility, combined with the understanding that Murfreesboro, Tennessee is not Mayberry, might make people relax a bit.

  • Marisa Coutts

    ” … debate over what gets built at Ground Zero is not just a debate among Muslims, and neither is the larger debate about Muslim reform. True enough, there is a war going on inside the Muslim community, a struggle for the soul of Islam and for the future of American Muslims, and that war will have to be fought mostly by Muslims. But it is not a war between equals, and it is not a war in which Americans can be neutral. The Islamists have on their side money, influence, and a ruthless determination to get their way, no matter who has to be hurt. They have already taken over, with Saudi money, most of the mosques in America – one reason why so many American Muslims are “unmosqued” and worship in private. The radicals have also planted themselves inside the government, and have won the admiration and support of the political, religious, and media elites. We have essentially said to the true moderates: You are on your own, and out of luck; the bad guys are running the store.”

    Source: Dr. Dennis Hale is a professor of political science at Boston College and a lay eucharistic minister in the Episcopalian Church. He is a member of the APT’s Board of Directors.

    Americans for Peace and Tolerance
    15 Main St. Suite 118, Watertown, MA 02472

  • Hernan

    I just wonder, if a Catholic Church was to be built next to an Elementary school… would people be going that crazy about it?

  • Iraj Aghdasi

    The Moslems who are involved in building a mosque near the Trade Center site should work equally hard with their coreligionists in the Middle East to bring about religious tolerance in that land. Religious minorities suffer in the Middle East (Baha’is in Iran, for example). They should build a synagogue in Mecca! I support the existence of this mosque. People against the it are assaulting the soul of American that was created out of a desire for religious freedom and that stands for tolerance and acceptance. Standing against these American ideals is worse than the destruction of the Towers.

  • Ellen Dibble

    If the convent by Auschwitz is the parallel driving Rabbi Weiss’s point of view, it’s easy to understand the emotional underpinning, but I don’t think it’s valid.
    The German people were all involved (not always willingly) in the Final Solution.
    The Muslims were not all involved in 9/11.

  • Conor

    Maybe the cause for opposition to the Islamic Community Center is not a clash of backgrounds. The whole of the USA was traumatized in some way by the attacks on 9/11 and even more so from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In turn, the actions of war and wartime diplomacy traumatized the people of the countries we entered. That is what this struggle is – another product of the trauma cycle that has been turning for thousands of years.

    The fact is, we have all been hurt in some way by the setting of the world stage in the past 9 years, regardless of religion or ethnicity.

    Who will take the first step in peace and acceptance, no matter what, and how? It seems the coin flip could go either way.

    Conor, NH

  • s

    The difference is there are millions of Muslims that have radical views and ideology in the world and think violence is the answer. That is a fact. It isn’t the United States to prove that it is tolerant anymore. We are the most tolerant nation in the world. It is the responsibility of Islam to show that it is tolerant, not the other way around. It is perfectly normal to be sceptical and maybe apprehensive about this mosque/community center and what the reason is that it is being built in that area. Where are they getting the money and why has this imam said some of the things he has said? Why can’t they compromise to move it so people may approve and let this conflict ease? They aren’t budging. Why is that?

  • Andrew Woods

    When Americans manifest intolerance the terrorists win.

    If the center, or whatever we call it, is not built, then what? Will Muslims within a fixed distance from the WTC’s site be forbidden from praying in their homes or offices? The logic of forbidding the center is untenable, not that logic has anything to do with the conflict.

    Thank you,
    Andrew D. Woods

  • Francis DeVine

    Would we be having this discussion, if for instance, Timothy McVeigh had been an avowed christian, and now a christian group wanted to build a church within two blocks of the Oaklahoma City bomb site? I don’t think it would be an issue.

  • Cathy

    Where are the Jews “stepping back” in Jerusalem and the West Bank if that is at the heart of their religion?

  • http://onanov.com Donald Baxter, Iowa City, IA

    Stepping back is fine, but it’s not the immediate community that seems to be so concerned about the Islamic Center so stepping back doesn’t seem to be the concern of so many people in NYC as it is people in Ohio who would probably oppose the construction of any such facility they of which they were made aware.

  • Rob

    There are really 2 seperate issues here.

    First, is there legal grounds to prevent them from constructing this edifice. The answer to that is unequivocally, no there is not.

    The second question is the center of the problem. Is it right for them to build this edifice. Many are citing respect for Islam and acknoledgment that the horrific events of 9/11 were NOT a result of Islam, but the work of extremists bent on the destruction of what they see as evil, as a reason to allow this construction.

    I freely acknowledge that Islam is not to blame and should not be held responsible for the actions of those few men. However, I also feel that it would be inappropriate for this construction to be completed in its current location.

    While I have respect for Islam and agree that there is no legal reason to not allow the construction, I also feel that the ones behind the construction should have respect for the feelings of the other multitudes of people who feel this is inappropriate. It’s almost as if they are saying ‘we know you dont like this idea but we really dont care’. That is the core of the problem for me and I find it insulting.

  • Leslie Brisman

    I am so ashamed of Rabbi Avi Weiss, whose position on “pluralism” might be appropriate for a state-sponsored religious edifice _on_ ground zero but whose opposition to the construction of an Islamic Cultural Center in lower Manhattan is nasty parochialism. Let us see if he opposes all construction of new synagogues in lower Manhattan in the coming years!

  • Luke

    Maybe we should also prevent Catholic churches from building close to schools. Since the religion is to blame for the molestation of children.

  • brandstad

    Remember, the history of Cordoba, has nothing to do with interfaith cooperation, and everything to do with conquering christians and killing them if they will not convert to islam

  • http://www.wordsaremyworld.com Yvona Fast

    I don’t think we as a society can or should stop the building of this Islamic Center. However, i think it is very rude, disrespectful, uncouth and discourteous for them to put it there. It shows they (the Muslims erecting the building) have no respect for the American people.
    If they want us to think otherwise, they should sell the land and buy other land elsewhere in Manhattan to build this structure. The City of New York could then buy the land and erect something more fitting for ALL Americans.
    Yvona Fast

  • Mario Valdes

    With the help of Sir Robert Graves, the well known British scholar of classical mythology, one of the ways in which this kind of Islamaphobia has been kept at arms length in the UK is the claim by the Queen’s Heralds at Arms that Her Majesty, through one of her Spanish lines is a descendant of the Prophet, Mohammed, himself. Perhaps it might help if New Yorkers were reminded that many of the city’s “Four Hundred,” including families like the Vanderbilts and the Whitneys, are descended from Anthony Van Salee, the first Moslem inhabitant of New Amsterdam – and a black one at that.

  • Kathryn

    A great point is made about stepping back. See the status and opinion of Christians in this country- who have historically always been pushing for more.

    Religions will never be respected if they ignore how many toes they are stepping on and continue to stamp down.

  • Mohammed

    Since 9/11 the religon and muslims demonized, bashed, new word fabricated to describe it such as Islamist, Jihadist, George Bush’s word Islamo Facisim. Invade their country and when they defend themself call them terrorist. Of course American become islamophobic. I do not blame the people. I blame the poletician and the media including NPR who associale Islam to terrorism since 9/11/2001. The 9/11 attacker did not attack for religious reason. They did it for geopoletical reason.

  • JA Chung

    Dear NPR and Tom,

    I am renewing my membership. Thank you.

    I am so dismayed by some of the comments by the rabbi. Fifteen percent of Muslims are radical?! By whose measure? This feels like bait and switch to me. Like they are going to be violence? Or they have bad opinions of the USß That is not radical! Lots of people have bad opinion of US. Come to Europe…

    To say that they should move the center is outrageous. Why should they? They did not bomb the site. (Thank you for the pastor for mentioning the Japanese. Go UOC!. We Americans did imprison the Japanese because of group fear.) This is not a PC conversation but conversations of real stakes.

    So my membership is my part.

  • tom

    The people who attacked us on 9/11 are dead, captured or hiding in caves.

  • John

    I thought the Queen was German.

  • Not a Chance


    “Where are the Jews ‘stepping back’ in Jerusalem and the West Bank if that is at the heart of their religion?”

    Great point!

  • Arlene Boudreaux

    Wouldn’t it be a wonderful statement to the world as well as to the terrorists if we not only allowed the building of the Mosque but also in one voice said,”we allow, believe in, and celebrate diversity and you cannot divide us or make us hate.”

  • http://www.7daybids.com richard

    Well Im agree to let them build that, anyway they will make it happens Soon or later.

    just my two cents.

  • John

    If religious institutions had to pay their fair share of taxes we’d have fewer of these issues.

  • http://onpointradio.org Peter Tenney

    It seems to me that much commentary misses the psychological angle. Bin Laden, ultra-Orthodox Jews on the West Bank, and right-wing fundamentalist Christians are all in the same psychological “camp.” Although my list includes conservative factions of three religions, extreme left groups could also be listed in the mix. Such people have a need to “construct” the world in a specific way that justifies their assumptions. This leads them to absolutist thinking and reactionary response against that which does not support their assumptions. Religious groups are notably selective in the scripture they choose to support their “causes.” It’s worth noting in this context that, psychologically, it’s much easier to hate than to love; the former takes no work; the latter takes a lot. The debate over the Manhattan mosque is the debate between reason and reaction. It’s as old as the entire historical record of human folly in choosing the easy, gut reaction over the more difficult, reasoned consideration. We all can predict the outcome. I seem to recall some Japanese-American internment camps somewhere during the time of WW II. Can we ever learn?

  • john

    …. the difference between the convent in Germany and the community center in New York … even if you characterize it as a mosque … is that Christianity is the majority in Germany, therefore has the power associated with its majority, and the convent has the appearance of persecution (even if it was built with good intentions) … Islam is the minority in New York and as such is subject to power and whim of the Christian majority … who should exercise that power carefully to avoid the appearance of persecution

  • TJ from Murfreesboro

    I wanted to respond to the caller Ed from Nashville. I am from Murfreesboro, Tennessee and I can assure you Ed, if you haven’t visited recently, that Murfreesboro is NOT a small town. Murfreesboro is a growing community of over 100,000 residents. I don’t believe that the proposed mosque taking up too much real estate is the problem. There are many Christian churches in the city that are bigger than the proposed mosque. The World Outreach Church in M’Boro for example is over 60,000 square feet on 28 acres of land (from their website). The proposed mosque is 52,000. Ed, please visit Murfreesboro soon and please get your facts straight. Thank you.

  • Yamila

    the rabbi spoke about the “non-radical” muslims doing the work with other “radical” muslims

    1. does the rabbi, then, believe that with his opposition to the muslim cultural center (which he kept referring to as a mosque) he is working with members of the jewish faith to fight islamophobia?

    2. has the rabbi then been protesting israel’s plans for a museum of religious tolerance (the irony!) at the site of a muslim cemetery (mamilla) in jerusalem? would the same principles that inform his opposition here apply there? this month, israeli bulldozers started demolishing gravestones in the middle of the night.

  • David Merens

    I am a native New Yorker and a Jew. I stand with Mayor Bloomberg and against the bigots and demagogues who are protesting.
    The opposition to this Muslim community center is a slap in the face to New York City’s formerly exalted self image as the greatest Melting pot city the world has ever seen.

    It also flies in the face of the Bill of rights.

    These people have an absolutely guaranteed right to build this institution.

    The people who oppose this threaten everyone’s freedom of speech and religion.

  • Teacher21

    A caller on the show brought up that many religions histories and scriptures involve violence. This makes sense, but may be difficult for many Americans to take into account, since they have not been an issue in the current media. I find it interesting that no one brought up the issue of sexual abuse against minors in the Catholic church. This is a significant issue that we are dealing with right now. The Catholic church is clearly corrupt, even pointed out by right-wing, religious, church-goers (see Radio Boston show from yesterday). Yet, people are not up in arms about where Catholic churches are built?

  • Wendy Thompson

    The rabbi said that moderate Muslims need to speak out against the violent elements in their religion just as he needed to speak out–I held my my breath hoping he was going to say against the abuses of the Israeli government and their treatment of the Palestinians–but no, he said he spoke out against the demonization of Islam.

    It’s a shame. He needs to concentrate on correcting the serious wrongs in his own religious group. I was glad to see that at least one previous comment addressed this but sorry it wasn’t addressed on the air.

    As for my religious background, lest this be suspect, I was raised a Unitarian. Our old church had a brass cross, star of David, and yin yang symbol over the altar. Never having had any dogma shoved down my throat I can view all religions with tolerance and detachment, aware that good people can be devout followers of a particular religion yet that religions are often the cause or the excuse for inhumanity and atrocities.

    It’s disturbing–yet important–to learn from this exchange how polarized people are over this issue. I do think the Muslim community center should be allowed in lower Manhattan. I agree with Arlene’s statement above!

  • Valkyrie607


    You’ve been lied to. And now you’re spreading the lie. Stop it. It’s irresponsible and it’s dangerous. Turn off the TV and go to a library and look up Cordoba. I dare you. If it confirms what you’ve been saying here, I’ll eat my hat.

  • Ann H.

    How much you honor the constitution is seen by how hard you fight for it.
    Forcing someone or asking someone to give up their constitutional rights shows that you really don’t believe that the rights embedded in the constitution apply at all times and to all people. These rights need to be upheld regardless of personal feelings.

    Freedom of speech is upheld even for the Ku Klux Klan and Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church.

    The right to own a gun is upheld even though innocent men, women, and children are killed every day by those who legally purchased a gun.

    Upholding the constitution is a mandate for all Americans, especially when we remember those who have died, in America or on foreign soil, to ensure the continued existence of those rights.

    The issue about the Islamic cultural center is wholly about upholding religious freedom in the face of tragedy.
    The horror of 9/11 will not be abated by the movement of the Islamic center elsewhere. The anguish and the fear and the anger generated by 9/11, and any other horrific act, will become a justified tool to ask other people in the future to relinquish their rights in order to appease certain people’s pain.

    The enormous suffering from 9/11 does not trump the sacred and inviolable rights of the Constitution of the United States.

  • Ann H.

    By the way, who actually rounded up all the radical Muslims and counted them?
    And then rounded up all the rest of the Muslims to achieve that 15% of the total?
    The CIA would really be interested in their accomplishment!

  • http://www.treevesarts.com t – reeves

    I’m dismayed by some of our listener and comments post on this site, Look let get this topic right islamis is a violence religou, we are only discussing this because we have a fail bomd in new york city a months ago never forget 9/11.
    Building a mosque with be a safe hiding for radical.
    Thanks and peace be upon you!!

  • Rachel

    I can’t help thinking that this would never have happened had Islam worldwide been more persistent and vocal in condemnation of their radical and violent elements.

    Also, the Imam and his wife should have considered a preemptive PR campaign in all the major media to clearly present their case. With due respect to Cokie Roberts, Democracy Now does not qualify.

  • ThresherK

    Too many callers seemed to be right-wingers who are all of a sudden warning about a religion which mistreats women. Or “63000 square feet! 63000 square feet!”. My alarm goes off when someone cannot talk about a deeply held belief for more than a dozen of their own words.

    I’m having trouble figuring out why the rabbi was so interested in drawing false equivalence between the wild, out of control, impolite detractors and supporters of this cultural center. On the one hand we have ignorants whipped into a frenzy by the low-
    information media of the right wing (as seen by the near attack on that man wearing jewelry with the Puerto Rican flag because he looked too “Muslimy”), and on the other hand, what?

    And I was in and out of radioshot. I hope someone mentioned how many times Imam Rauf or his wife were given friendly interviews by Fox News over the last few years. He has been described (before this building became a crisis) as one of the moderate Islam types by the lockstep groupthinkers at Fox. This is not new. Someone at NPR must know this.

  • Jim in Omaha

    The area known as the city of Cordoba (Spain) has been ruled by Africans (Carthaginian), Romans, Visigoths and Spanish royalty (during the time they were killing EVERYONE who wouldn’t accept their version of Christianity), so using that term for a community center would seem to imply coexistence of diverse peoples.

    As to Brandstad’s telling inability to discern any way this center would “improve the negative perception” of Muslims, the answer is the same as how getting to personally know “Negroes”, you know, the ones that were “a credit to their race”, assisted Americans in the 50′s and 60′s overcome their ingrained, learned racist tendencies, and getting to know those “nice men” who live together in the neighborhood help people today realize that gays are just normal folks, too. In short, it will help one overcome their obvious ignorance.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I totally understand where the caller is coming from who spoke about all the atrocities that the news has been full of for the past few years — perpetrated by Muslims in one country after another. In Africa. In the Middle East. In Afghanistan. Etc. One sees shows about the wahabi form of Islam funded in such a way as to provide education AND FOOD for a vast swath of young boys in the area of Af-Pak. They chant the Koran and are indoctrinated. They believe we are trying to squelch Islam, and so they believe they have to squelch us. Something like that. I understand that.
    However, I have lived upstairs from a Muslim from Mali, and noticed how he thinks, how he comes and goes, how he relates to women. And I have some acquaintance with Muslim women in the area, a few children, just enough knowledge of some Sufis, in short a modicum of exposure gives me a pretty good sense that the billion Muslims in this world have a wide diversity. Just because I don’t know them all and can’t distinguish these from those doesn’t give me the right to demonize them all. The network news is not going to talk about the 85% who are good-deed-doers, or the whatever percent.
    On the other hand, I’ve been exposed to a wide variety of Christians and Jews for decades, and I think I can tell an evangelical by the lines on their faces, the cut of their hair. I think I can tell a Lutheran on sight. Or a Catholic. Not exactly, but sort of. On the other hand, to “tell” a terrorist (a Muslim terrorist in this instance) on sight? I have to leave that to the Muslims. They have to do that for me. But in the meanwhile, I’ll welcome any community center that allows me to learn to read their faces as well.

  • William Ennis

    This is a wonderful opportunity to provide a healing influence to the N.Y. City community, to our nation and to build bridges between people of different faiths. The Muslim leaders should consider inviting the leaders of the major religions, e.g. Hindu, Buddist, Christian, Jew, etc. to join with them in constructing a multi-cultural/religious edifice where space is provided for all beliefs to be practiced, and for regular common social exchanges such as sports, community service, or patriotic holidays. The effect of everyone “building” a society and focusing on positive human values will actually become the highest form of tribute we can pay in memory of the souls lost in the 9/11 tradgedy.

  • michael

    “I feel it is insensitive to build that close to Ground Zero. Mayor Bloomberg is wrong concerning his comment. If it is not a problem to erect this mosque so close to that area, then I guess there would not be a problem putting up a monument to Hitler outside the gates of Auschwitz. Not very sensitive to the neighborhood is it?

    Posted by Armand Auclair”

    apples to oranges, but last i heard Auschwitz is not part of U.S. nor under the laws of the U.S. constitution.

    Unless you have information that no one else has?

  • John Smith

    The fact that it is the Muslims “Right” to put in a mosque isn’t the real issue. The real issue is whether or not they are Right to do it. A simple comparison example would be: Imagine your son was killed by another boy across town. You don’t blame the family of that boy, you blame the boy. But, the killers family decides the best way to bring harmony or comfort to the situation is to move into the house next to you or down the street. You still don’t blame the family, but now you are reminded of the crime and pain associated every time you see them. I don’t know the real reasons for wanting to build this mosque on this place. I just know from a Moral standpoint, which seems to be lacking in the thinking here, it is dreadfully wrong.

  • Valkyrie607

    John Smith,

    A more accurate comparison would be:

    Your son was killed by a black man. A decade later, a black family moves into a house a block away from your house. Though the murderer of your son is not related to this black family, you are still incensed that they had the temerity to move into your neighborhood, reminding you every day of the fact that your son was murdered by a black man. You think they should move into another neighborhood in order to show that they are not insensitive brutes who care nothing about the feelings of families of murder victims. You insist that it’s not at all racist to make this innocent family pay for the actions of a murderer, even though all they have in common is the color of their skin.

  • michael

    ““Exactly how the Cordoba Initiative will be financed remains unclear.” Hmm. That’s probably something that we should take into consideration. Don’t you think?”

    Didn’t you hear? Its funded by news corp, the more you watch fox news, the more profit the Saudi Prince makes enabling him to give money to create the center.

    It all the people against the center stopped watching Fox Cable News than New Corp stocks would go down and make it harder for the Saudi Prince to fund it. Didn’t you find it weird that Fox talked about following the money and the main man giving money to it yet REFUSED to give a name or picture??? Couldn’t be he had stock in News Corp Right?

    Wanna make things better stop watching fox(which is indirectly supporting this Center you so hate)

  • Jean McBrien

    Because the Nazis were mostly Christian, were Christian churches prohibited near the sites of the Holocaust?
    Because the Ku Klux Klan were mostly Christian, were Christian churches prohibited across the South after THAT terrorism?

    It should not be forgotten that these earlier terrorists did not act on behalf of their religion – nor were the 9/11 terrorists acting on behalf of the Muslim religion. Religious freedom goes to the very fiber of being an American. Mosque-fighters should be ashamed!

  • Zach

    I tried unsuccessfully to call into today’s program. I thought this mornings broadcast was very thoughtful and respectful but I agree whole heartedly with the caller from Massacheusetts when he states that much of the discomfort Americans feel is from the kind of islam we see throughout the 10th parralel which is largly extreme and intolerant. As this caller stated, I agree that Islam is in crisis and fighting for its own identity. Will it be run by the extremists who are detonating car bombs and imposing hard line islamic law or the moderates such as Mr Bray from Chicago?

    The crisis of Islam is being waged on our TV screens and has rightfully put most Americans on edge. Its not Islamophobia, its a phobia of the Islam of the Middle East.

  • John Smith

    V. I think you just fired up the race machine. No to your point about black and white or any other color. Yes to the insight of the mosque being related to the killers at Ground Zero. I’m sure there is no real relationship, and maybe there is no intent, maybe there is nothing but good intentions. Regardless and without intentional prejudice, the thought of this mosque pains the majority of us that watched 9/11 unfold. Perhaps it will bring some very good people comfort. But be certain that it will hurt a great many more forever.

  • Not a Chance


    we’ve got christian fundamentalists (e.g. – The Family) trying to enact christian sharia right here in the USA- criminalizing homosexuality, abortion, and demonizing other religions and atheism.

    What’s the difference?

    All religious fanatics are dangerous and lunatic.

  • John Smith

    Everyones jumpin on the bandwagon. This isn’t about anything but Ground Zero and the pain associated. The average american, and there are still a great many,is sitting at home watching the news thinkin, geez, that just doesn’t seem right. He’s not thinking about anything but “Ground Zero and the pain asociated.” They have the right to put the mosque where they like, that doesn’t make it right to put it anywhere near Ground Zero.

  • Valkyrie607

    John Smith -

    Okay then. Different analogy.

    Your son was murdered by an evangelist Baptist. Ten years later, a congregation of Quakers want to open a Friends Meeting House down the road from you. Not knowing anything about Christianity, you are unable to differentiate between Quakers and Baptists. You are incensed that the Quakers have the temerity to move into your neighborhood, reminding you on a daily basis of the association you have in your mind between Christianity and the loss of your son. You insist that they relocate their Meeting House in order to demonstrate that they are not heartless cads who care nothing for the suffering of the families of murder victims. You insist that there is no religious bigotry involved with your conflation of murderers with Baptists and Baptists with Quakers.

  • John Smith

    Feel free to build a mosque or a church in my neighborhood. It wouldn’t be disrespectful. Thousands didn’t die there.

  • William

    The larger story was when Nancy Pelosi wanted an investigation on the people that opposed the building of this 9-11 Mosque.

  • JackFlasche

    A preacher, a rabbi, and an imam walked into a broadcast studio. The rabbi said, “Do you fellow realize how ludicrous it is that anyone at all should consider us authorities? I mean after all your religions are really based on my religion, and my religion is nothing but the projections of the primitive human psyche, set in a fantasy stories with a god that is based on a bronze age tyrant. In fact the archeological record has not verified one historic fact of our holy books not even the major things like the exodus. Isn’t it time to give up this hateful bunch of lies that pollutes the minds of men?”
    The preacher responded, “I know what you mean. I am only in this line because I dread doing an honest days work, and this was a way out. My own set of lies is base on the manipulation of instinctual archetypes that arose from hundreds of thousands of years of human predation by large cats. When the cat makes a kill the rest of the group is safe, for a while, so a sacrifice can save us. This we artfully wove into a tale of being saved by the sacrifice of god’s son. How sick is that? But it beats work. Even if it does give rise to all kinds of psychological problems and little things like 800 years of inquisition.”

    The imam said, “You think you have made people crazy. You are the minor league my friends. We have taken suppressed sexuality and turned it into a bloodbath. I mean really if someone is not indoctrinated in their youth or bludgeoned by society there is no way anybody would believe this bull. Fly to heaven on a winged horse — please. No one who has had a real experience of a higher dimension of consciousness is would consider any of this nonsense for even a minute. Let alone give or take a human life for it. Let’s go to the bar around the corner and get a drink.”

    A preacher, a rabbi, and an imam walked into a bar. . . .

  • Ellen Dibble

    It seems that lower Manhattan is sacred ground and should be turned into a shrine to victims of a truly shocking event. Just clear it all out. Doesn’t matter what it is; nothing can ever cleanse the wound. Nothing, whether associated or not associated, is pure enough. A quarter of the planet are tarnished by guilt by some sort of association, and no one is ever going to let them forget it. Certainly don’t start any sort of healing.
    Is that the answer? Keep your grief? Keep your grievance?
    If you want to talk about the sort of “sensitivity” human inherit from yore, the equalizing done in the pre-judicial times, where an eye for an eye was the norm, look at the lives lost in Iraq, into the hundreds of thousands, and consider who maybe overreacted and is the position of apologizing. Ground Zero began to be a symbol of our OWN overreaction and own OWN guilt and shame, if you ask me.

  • Jim in Omaha

    John Smith

    No need to play the analogy game. I don’t care that you “feel” offended. Believe me, there are a lot of things people do that really piss me off or hurt my feelings, one being publicly protesting someone building a community center in New York. Come to think of it, since such protests offend so many of us, why don’t those people just do the right thing and shut up?

  • jeffe

    I’m curious about the fact that Muslims also died in the towers on 9/11 how is it that the non-Muslims are now more important? I understand how people can be angry at all Muslims, it’s easy to just cast a wide net of hate and indifference. We Americans have a history of this, we did it with the Japanese Americans during WW2, we did it to the Chinese who were legally excluded by the “Chinese Exclusion Act” of 1882 and this was not repealed until 1943. We did this to the Indian tribes. We define ourselves by defining “others”. I’m not sure this community center can be built after all of this.
    I do think all of this does expose the ugly underbelly of our country.

  • Steve Camera

    Important topic of discussion: wrong mix of professional guests. First of all, the controversy of having a mosque (Islamic Center) put up on GroundZero of World Trade Center 9/11 is a political issue, not a religious one. I am positive that the nature of what you call “Islamo-phobia” is not religious but political and cultural. And one caller was correct when he said that to improve image of Islamic culture and society in USA and the world, the leaders of Islam, world-wide must “take back” Islam from the radical elements which wish to enforce Sharia Law and do violent acts to insist on there way. Islamic leaders of a moderate and peace-loving bent must step up and be noticed on the world stage to the effect that they strongly oppose violence against women, children and political leaders of all walks of life, religions and cultures concerning Islams relations with the non-Islamic world.

    Secondly, to better represent the “community” among which you wished to have a dialogue, you should have invited a Muslim cleric who is a US citizen, but who was born in an Arab country, and who speaks Arabic. For the issue of Islam in America is not a religious one but a cultural one. And the Koran is written in Arabic. This language holds a special beauty and power for all Muslims in the Islamic world, both in Arab and non-Arab. Picking a Black Muslim born in the USA just doesn’t fit the bill for this forum on the sentiment of GroundZero by most Americans. This is what the “Islamic Center” to be build on “Ground Zero” is all about. It is a cultural symbol not a religious one. And it can in no way be compared to a YMCA, as Imam Bray spoke of. And I found Martin Marty truly insensitive to have stated on-air that he found the convent on the grounds of Auschwitz “convenient” to pray in; well perhaps he might inconvenience himself a bit in respect for the millions of innocent people who were brutally murdered there, both Jews and non-Jews. Just a bit of sensitivity. Wow!

    And Rabbi Weiss. He spoke with compassion and sensitivity, yet he was chosen, as clergy, to represent a “religious group.” The Jewish People are not a religion; but much like the Muslims you chose to highlight, they are a combination of cultures and histories; most Muslims, like Jews, living in the USA are not religious, but they identify with their group through the study of their history, their customs, dance, music: all socio-cultural expressions of their culture: Islam. So to you can ask most of the Jews living in Israel, as well as the USA, and they will tell you that they are not at all religious but they do identify with there respective groups! So this topic on NPR is an issue of clashing of cultures, not religions. And the issue brought up on several occasions (including NY Mayor Bloomberg) of the US Constitution providing “freedom of religion” to all is just not applicable here in this dialogue!

    So next time NPR wishes to debate this topic I would suggest choosing non-religious, well-read people, perhaps history professors, or law professors and get some Muslims, both Arab and non-Arab, (maybe Pakistani, or Indonesian) who are American Citizens, who can more accurately and passionately advocate for this Islamic Center on GroundZero. Then the debate will be real and powerful.

    Looking forward to future dialogue and debate. Let’s here it all from all corners of America.

  • Finbar

    The real problem Muslims have is not rampant jihad terrorism and Islamic supremacism, but “Islamophobia”! Pay no attention to all the jihad attacks committed in the name of Islam around the world, and the triumphalist actions and declarations of imminent Islamic conquest — the real problem is not with them, but with people who report on them and show their root causes in the Qur’an and Muhammad’s example (both copiously invoked by those same jihadists and Islamic supremacists)!

  • Kirsten

    No one really thinks about the fact that we have evangelicals training people to attack gays and blow up abortion centers.

    We cannot paint all religions’ adherents with the same brush.

  • Joshua Hendrickson

    Ellen Dibble made a great point about religion being organized ignorance, and about atheism not really being independent of that ignorance but independent of the organized aspect of it.

    I would amend that, Ellen, by saying that religious people don’t think of themselves as ignorant, but of possessing Truth. Of course they don’t, but they labor to convince themselves they do. It is the opposite of wisdom. Only Socrates knew what the beginning of wisdom is: it is knowing how much you don’t know. That is a welcome state of mind for a philosopher, a scientist, or an agnostic. It is anathema for a religious person, particularly a fundamentalist.

  • Joshua Hendrickson

    The next time I hear a call for Muslims to repudiate (yes, Sarah Palin, that’s a letter “p” in there) the radicals amongst their religion, it had best be accompanied by a repudiation by Christians of their fundamentalist brethren, the kinds who blow up abortion clinics, hate gays, love jews only when they’re either converted to Christ or dead, and seek absolute dominion of their faith over the entire world.

    (…the sound of crickets in the night…)

    Yeah, I thought so.

    Sam Harris is essentially right: it is not just the fundies of all religions who endanger the world. It is also the moderates, who provide a gloss of acceptability to a primitive worldview which does our race no damned good. Moderates may reject the cruder and crueler tenets of their faiths, but in so doing they raise the question of why they accept any of it. At least fundamentalists have “purity” on their side, though it is no virtue in that context.

  • http://www.ckollars.org/ Chuck Kollars

    My understanding is the proposed cultural center contains –among many other things– a smallish room set aside for personal worship, like the “chapel” in a few of our public buildings.

    Why gin up controversy by mis-calling this a “mosque”?

    Will there be regular services and sermons? Will there be a loudspeaker system? Will there be congregants? If not, it’s not a “mosque” in my book. I’d appreciate some better coverage and more in-depth information …especially from NPR.

  • Joshua Hendrickson

    I find the rabbi’s reasoning flawed. He seems to include the voices of tolerance in the realm of the “extreme”!

  • Susanne Scullin

    I am really tired of criminals , being treated like they were some what different because they wish to claim a religious background of ether or any sort . We had 200 or so folks blown up in Utah . We have so called Christians who think blowing up medical clinic and killing doctors is just fine I don’t remember hearing the question raised as to what church they came from or claimed to come from . ought to close their doors
    There have been more Muslims killed by these terrorists in their own countries , than were killed in New York . I think it is time for all moderate in all faiths to come together and say no

  • Brian Williams

    Chritianity has an incredible history of violence, therefore accusing another religious group of being violent is very hypocritical

  • Joshua Hendrickson

    “Bad practitioners do not invalidate the practice.”

    No, they don’t invalidate it. They help to define it. They are not the only way to do so, but they are a very powerful way.

    The problem with something as essentially human-created as a religion is that it is made up, and can be interpreted any way an individual pleases. The danger is inherent in the substance.

  • Brian Williams

    wow, twin towers = auschwitz??

  • http://creativeconflicts.com Noreen

    I’m surprised of the monothematic tone of the dispute. The authorities proposing this Moslem Center are intelligent people. Why not they come public offering to make a reality the “religion of peace” sobriquet by:

    Offering to train their own people worldwide in peace behavior;
    Condemn publicly the beheadings, whiping and stoning people;
    Assure NY public of its commitment to peace by giving training in peaceful conflict resolution to disputes between moslems and other minorities.
    Profess in public their support to any cross-cultural peace initiative training, event, church program, etc.
    As soon as something happens like the two teens murdered in Pakistan under the indifferent view of onlookers, or the planned stoning of a woman accused of infidelity, manifest sorrow, explain why this behavior is not acceptable and offer training.
    I don’t believe so! it takes courage, creativity and a sincere desire to engage with the locals….. Let’s see if they can do!

  • millard_fillmore

    Chritianity has an incredible history of violence, therefore accusing another religious group of being violent is very hypocritical”

    Only for Christians though, I presume? You are aware that in this world, there are people belonging to religions other than Christianity or Islam, or for that matter, atheists and irreligious people – who are affected by the crazy actions by the adherents of religion of peace.

    And the heinous acts of Christianity inspired by their faith are mostly in the past, whereas the acts of Islam are very much happening today – there were blasts in numerous cities in Iraq today, killing dozens.

    At least you acknowledge that Islam is messed up and needs some serious reform, which is more than what many people would agree to put in words and will beat around the bush, even if they may admit to that obvious fact in private.

  • Camilia (sounds like camellia)

    Sensitivity for victims of the 9/11 attack has been voiced as a reason to question the construction of a mosque. But there seems to be an implicit distinction drawn between “American victims” and “American Muslims.” Aren’t American Muslims, whether they were in New York that day or not, victims, too? They have been misjudged and in some cases mistreated in the years since the attack. If anything, shouldn’t American Muslims be shown particular respect as victims of the attack, in which case a mosque would reflect a conscientious effort to convey tolerance? Far from disgracing the memory of SOME of the victims, it would promote a message that would honor ALL victims.

  • millard_fillmore

    “Condemn publicly the beheadings, whiping and stoning people;”

    And cause fitna by doing so??

  • millard_fillmore

    Joshua, thanks for your comment in the previous thread. I just read it and will respond soon-ish.

  • michael

    “I find the rabbi’s reasoning flawed. He seems to include the voices of tolerance in the realm of the “extreme”!”

    He asked for people not to lump him and others with bigots yet the next line he says 15% of all Muslims are radical or extremist no stats to back his claim or as opposed to Judaism or Christianity .

    I find all three once the majority of there religion is controlled by the conservative right of each group there become authoritarian, intolerant of the other compared to the more liberal secular side.

    A liberal muslim and a liberal christian/jew we probable get along much better than a conservative Muslim and conservative christian/jew since each religion in this case tells them the others are wrong.

  • YO

    I TAKE EXCEPTION to the rabbi’s characterization of the 9-11 terrorists as attacking American values. Their (al Qaeda’s) battle is against America’s foreign policies, not its domestic ones. This was not a religious attack, it was a political one, and therefore the fact that this community center is Islamic is as much a technicality as is the fact that the terrorists were also Muslims (never mind that they were from a completely different sect).

  • millard_fillmore

    Rachel wrote:
    “I can’t help thinking that this would never have happened had Islam worldwide been more persistent and vocal in condemnation of their radical and violent elements. “

    You are getting close to the issue. Most other religions have had their reformers (Martin Luther) or branching off (Unitarian Universalists, with roots in Christianity), and have found a way to keep up with the modern world. Somehow, Islam seems to be still caught in the dark ages with no reformer in sight.

    Another deep problem is that how does one go about reforming something when it is considered the last and final word of the GOD? And people like Farag Foda who were outspoken and critical of certain aspects, were silenced. Heck, even most liberals living in western democracies indulge in self-censorship when it comes to criticizing Islam, so what to say of Muslims?

    Perhaps people like Irshad Manji and Ibn Warraq will grow in stature and bring about some much-needed reformation of Islam and make it compatible with humanist values of today. Otherwise, I don’t see any end to this friction caused by Islam in secular democracies. Special protection because of minority status in a secular democracy goes only so far, as countries like Denmark and Holland have realized, and taken corrective measures.

    Here are some links worth looking at:


  • Stephen J. Herschkorn

    Islam did not bring down the World Tarde Center.

    The oppoonents of the cultural center equate the terrorists with all of Islam. To prevent or displace its construction would be to cater to, and to validate, this xenophobia, bigotry, and ignorance. Embracement of this center would show the world how the U.S. recognizes the nonsense of this equation and cherishes the country’s freedoms and diversity.

    I am an atheïst, by the way.

    (And I can’t resist: What’s everyone drinking? You know, a rabbi, a priest, and an imam walk into a bar…)

  • Cash Tilton

    Al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, former imam of the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C., exchanged e-mails with Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hassan, mentored Christmas Day “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and reportedly served as the inspiration for Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad.

    Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, like Imam Rauf a leader and scholar of Sufi Islam, has said that 80 percent of mosques in the U.S. are being run by “extremist ideologues.” I have heard similar remarks from other North American Muslim leaders.

    I want the backing of ANY new mosque to be thoroughly investigated.

  • YO (again, sorry)

    This cultural center WOULD “fly in the face of sensitivity” if 9-11 would have been an attack by Islam on America, but IT WAS NOT.

    Does Islam have a place in the 21st Century? Of course not. Neither do any religions. Americans owe it to themselves to demonize Judaism, Christianity, and all religions, instead of demonizing only one just because they can’t tell a minaret from a warhead.

  • Yo (yet again! not sorry this time)

    @Cash: Agreed! We should also investigate rabbis and priests, as well as any religious organizations before they are allowed to just go ahead establishing themselves on American land. (I’m completely serious…)

    …except that such a unilateral investigation would be unfeasible at this time in America, unfortunately.

    Seriously. All these religious leaders could easily be found with blood on their hands, when it comes to committing violations of human rights, brainwashing children with harmful indoctrination, and so on. Anyone remember that scandal in the Catholic Church? What about Israel’s support of Israel’s war crimes? How about most major religions’ ongoing and tolerated crimes against women and children?

  • William

    I support Mayor Bloomberg. Under the US Constitution, the Park51 Islamic Center is free to open without conditions. If the sponsors wanted to make any accommodation, I would suggest they look to Berlin and perhaps design a modest plaque along the following lines:

    On September 11, 2001, [number of victims] people were murdered by agents of Al-Qaeda two blocks from this site at Liberty Street & Church Street.

  • millard_fillmore

    Ellen wrote:
    “For one thing, consider if a Catholic wanted to turn Catholicism away from its misogyny (no women priests).”
    Ellen, if the problem of misogyny in Islamic countries were only limited to non-appointment of women clergy…

  • millard_fillmore

    Imran Nasrullah wrote:
    “As an American born Muslim, Islamophobia has always been there as an undercurrent, driven mostly be US policies vis-a-vis Israel and Middle East politics. 9/11 represents the culmination of 50 years of bad policy towards the Middle East; the expression of which has come out through religion. Americans by and large have been ignorant of our actions abroad, and sugar coated by America Exceptionalism and self-righteousness. “


    If you think that the appropriate response to American foreign policy – admittedly bad – is a terrorist act perpetrated by Osama Bin Laden for his nefarious purposes, then we are in much deeper doo doo than we thought.

    Why not elect people who are responsible and pro-peace?
    Why not hold their feet (of elected officials) to fire?
    Why not vote for someone “not evil”, rather than for “lesser evil” and then justifying it? Compromise on your principles first by “holding your nose and voting” but then do nothing to make it possible for alternative voices different from the existing evils to thrive? A democracy is only as good as to the extent people participate in it.

    As for self-righteousness, why do you think so many Pakistani Muslims think Ahmaddiyas had it coming when they were massacred, and didn’t protest? Danish cartoons elicited a pretty strong response – I’d think that killing of defenseless people who do others no harm, would elicit even a much stronger response, no?

    Similarly for how Baha’i are treated in Muslim-majority countries. Or Hindus and Sikhs in Muslim-majority countries. You go and read some comments on Muslim websites, and “kaffirs deserve to die”, “kaffirs are unclean” etc. is a very popular refrain. Don’t fool yourself if you think that self-righteousness doesn’t exist in the Muslim world. If that kind of attitude is not dehumanizing “kaffirs/infidels” – a pretty medieval and antiquated concept to begin with – I don’t know what is.

  • http://www.ngyi.com Dwight

    Dear Sir -

    I have, with distress, listened to and read about some of the recent episodes of esteemed and wordly guests on various shows discussing the controversy of whether or not it is wise or appropriate to build a Muslim religious center in close proximity to ‘Ground Zero’ in New York City…

    New York’s grief and freedom of religion aside, I find it regrettable that no one has, as of yet, mentioned that society should adhere to the very basics of civility that have transcended all the religions, across the all countries, thoughout all the centuries.


    “Please accept my condolences”.


    “Please accept my apologies”

    It is unfortunate that people of such worldly disposiion and obviously notable and articulate ability forget that long ago it was determined that ‘condolences’ and ‘apologies’ could not be imposed, and must be accepted.

  • Helene G.

    To begin I will acknowledge, proudly, that I support, sympathize, and condone not only the building of the Mosque but Islam as an institution itself. I am not Muslim, but I sympathize because of the fact that it seems that anything that is out of the norm, in a country that is “free” and promises religious freedom, is usually condemned, protested, and discriminated. What is happening in New York right now (as well as all over America) saddens me greatly, since three freedoms are being abused: The freedom of speech is being used to speak hate, the freedom of assembly is being used to make a visual display of this hate, and then the freedom of religion which such individuals are making attempts to instill exceptions for Muslims.

    Islam is a peaceful faith. Just because the individuals who bombed the World Trade Center may have been “Muslim,” they do not represent the religion themselves. Just as one of the speakers is currently saying, some Christians are Nazis but certainly their actions to not, and should not, set the standard by which people view Christianity. I was raised Catholic, and something I have had to explain time and time again is that the priests that committed the terrible crimes against children were very few and far between, and are not representatives of the faith. Pedophilia, terrorism, hatred, and violence are “people” problems, not faith problems. Just because one is a Catholic priest does not mean he is a pedophile, and likewise just because one is a follower of Allah does not make him or her a terrorist.

    I feel the biggest obstacle facing the American people at this point in history is ignorance. If only they took the time to learn about Islam, Catholicism, Hinduism, and (dare I say) Christianity then perhaps it may be easier to discern between all of them in an enlightened manner rather than hate-fueled opinions based on nothing but propaganda produced by hate groups, neo-Conservatives, and fundamentalist Christians. Perhaps if the majority of people who seem so quick to judge the Islamic community and make assumptions regarding the events on 9/11 perhaps put that energy into learning about his or her own faith and what it tells one to do in such situations.

    The Mosque is proposed to be build two blocks away from Ground Zero. This is a distance. If they aren’t allowed to build it in a location that may not even have a clear view, if any view, of Ground Zero, then where do all of those who are opposed propose they build this center that is supposed to enrich the community and provide a place of worship and spiritual growth to everyone?

  • Eugene Andrews

    How controversial would it be to build a YMCA in the vicinity of ground zero?

  • millard_fillmore

    Helene wrote:
    Islam is a peaceful faith. Just because the individuals who bombed the World Trade Center may have been “Muslim,” they do not represent the religion themselves.

    Helene, would you know of Muslims who actually say the above and state that OBL is not a Muslim, and his acts are un-Islamic? Could you please check with a Muslim you know, and let us know?

    And you do know that Ibn Taymiyyah was one of the respected theological scholars in Islam, well-versed in all the texts and their interpretation?

    Your comment re: Islam and Catholicism also reminds me of: “No true Scotsman would do such a thing.” :)
    (Look it up.)

  • david

    Islam, a theocratic imperialistic religion.
    In the words of it’s founder and one of it’s followers.
    “I was ordered to fight all men until they say ‘There is no god but Allah” Muhammad
    “I shall cross the sea to their islands to pursue them until there remains no one on the face of the earth who does not acknowledge Allah.” Saladin

    Research their history and their actions and you will see that they are no more than a political system posing as a spiritual trojan horse.
    Under their system, I would either be imprisoned or dead because of my faith!

  • joshua

    Being sensitive and manners and all that would make sense if the mosque being built was a fanatical group–but for a Muslim mosque to built in NY-there is nothing wrong with that and it has nothing to do with sensitivity–to say that does just reflects your ignorance racism, and self-righteous religiosity. For a Muslim to practice sensitivity and not build there would be admitting that all Muslims are terrorists. that’s just wrong and stupid. Al Quid a is political anyways–its not about religion.

    I want to bring up the fact that Christians have taken over this country–which is supposed to be free. Christians block freedom everyday (abortion, health, marriage…) and make it unbearbale for other people who simply want to live to simply live. Christian values have no place in democratic society. faith belongs in the home, not the public sphere.

    Sept 11 was a pretense for war–not an assault on pluralism. Get real.

    “American democratic way–killers…” what are you talking about guy–Americans are invading sovereign nations all over thw world–committing war crimes, killing, torturing, suspending the bill of rights, ignoring and condemning the UN human rights and earth rights…Im sick. i think I will vomit…the lies are too thick and repulsive in American media

  • Myrronymous

    Rabbi–all Muslims didn’t attack America so why do you support condemning all Muslims–Obviously, America doesn’t practice universalism or tolerance of all faiths–or we wouldn’t be having this stupid conversation, and you Rabbi would not be against a Muslim mosque that has nothing to do with 911. Why doesn’t Israel learn a little sensitivity when comes to the genocide in Palestine? All this talk is rhetoric and hypocritical.

  • Myrronymous

    Again, this rabbi reveals his hypocrisy–everytime a man of one book wants to propagate racist, sexist, xenophoic ideals they say “oh, hear me out–im nnot a racist, but…”

    He says Muslims are 15 percent radical–well, thats because Americans (Christians) are radical and invading their soveign nations, torturing, polluting, raping, killing–eveil Old Testament stuff–if that was happening in America you bet people will lradicalize-they ill defen d their home–atheist, Christian, Jew, Muslim, agnostic–will fight! But it will be the Christians in America, (as they are now) will radicalize and terrorize!! Jews as well. So this Rabbi is completely irrational and unfair–he doesn’t hide his racism very well. is his loyalty to America or Israel? That’s the question we need to start asking. You cant be of two countries–you are either an Internationalist–for all nations or one. To be a patriot of America and Israel is a conflict of interests–NOT all American support Israel. Thus,it is not US interests. Ask this Rabbit what his extremist position is on Israel?

    i take issue with the caller who says wherever there is trouble in the world there are Muslims–Hello! Hello–anyone home–America is at the center of all the trouble in the world–Christians!

  • http://www.divinicom.com Sylvester Steffen

    Tom: you should have three women respond to the same questions. At the root of the irresolvable conundrum are the competitively cultured ideologies of “orthodox” male patriarchy, whether Christian, Judaic or Islamic — repeated by your male guests.

    “Boys” alone can’t resolve the problem; their myopic ideologies aggravate the standoff! Emotional intelligence as well as rational intelligence needs to be brought to the table.

  • Ishmael

    Notice how the American Taliban is using vague paranoiac fears — that Islam has an “agenda” to infiltrate and take over countries and install caliphates everywhere, and installing Muslim institutions at sites they have destroyed …. that your local Muslim population is secretly plotting …. (that little green men are infiltrating our kitchen sinks and that flouride in public water systems is a government plot?) …
    If there is something illegal being plotted by mainstream Muslims and that plotting is clearly and unambiguously linked to a community center in New York City, well, please come forth with credible evidence. The FBI will be most interested.
    If no such evidenc exists, please go back to your spider hole until your next delusion becomes irresistible.

  • Zeno

    I am delighted that the listeners and comments above eventually turned to the the real point of disharmony, greed, destruction, and evil that pervades most societies throughout the world: RELIGION!

    Aurthur C. Clark called it a “Virus of the mind.” and wherever it spreads ignorance and violence in its wake. Of course the primary tenet of the faithful is to deny this evil (past, present, and future).

    The idea that people who read the steaming entrails of sheep have concrete rules for modern societies would be laughable…except it is being done.

    Christian-Corporate (CristCorp) rule has taken hold of the US military, government, courts, and secular life. Their long desired theocracy is almost here.

  • Elias Baumgarten

    I found Rabbi Weiss’s comments disingenuous. He says his reasons for opposing the Islamic Center are “different” from others because he would oppose any denominational proposal at the Ground Zero site. Instead he wants a nondenominational place for reflection and meditation.

    First of all, I doubt that he would have opposed a Jewish Community Center.

    Second, even after being corrected, he repeatedly called the proposal a “mosque” when it is a community center.

    Most important, I assume there will be or certainly could be a nondenominational site for meditation AT Ground Zero. THIS IS NOT GROUND ZERO. No one on the program emphasized this in response to Rabbi Weiss. He made it sound as if the Islamic community Center was somehow a part of Ground Zero.

    As a Jew, I deeply regretted that the one Jewish voice on the program was the only one that failed to support a worthy attempt by Muslims to contribute in such a constructive way to dialogue and understanding.

    [By the way, I think Rabbi Weiss was a regrettable choice for the program. He did not just "oppose" the Carmelite convent at Auschwitz; he *broke into* it and was widely criticized at the time for lack of civility in his opposition.]

  • Ellen Dibble

    It is interesting to view American theocratic roots, past and present, as “American Taliban.” I guess we have to consider the Puritans came here to be pure, not to tolerate say Presbyterians, nor Dutch speakers they had encountered on stop-off one. They wanted to be exclusive. Quakers were persecuted, as I recall.
    There is another side to this. After the first winter in Plymouth, when so many women died off, reinforcements were sent over, and those were more women but also more men, men who probably needed a fresh start, rather than a puritanical approach to life. I understand my ancestors were among those. And they took off for Nantucket pretty quick, preferring the Indians. Or so the story goes.
    The Puritans, having an orthodoxy, and having a government which constituted the religion — or religion which constituted the government — were the Insiders for a long time. To vote, you went to church. But those who weren’t orthodox became the diplomats who learned Indian languages and taught them what they wanted to learn, and learned from them — enough to become prized negotiators. So the United States had an inside which was Taliban-ish, and lots and lots of space for those falling out of the orthodoxy to start the tradition of melting pot. We had he Rockies; the Taliban have the Hindukush, something like that. No, vice versa. The more extreme and fundamentalist here started holding the Eastern shore. But like Afghanistan, this separatist group took to Utah (the Mormons). Again, very well organized, somewhat exclusive, able to make things happen (economically). I’m not sure if Muslim Taliban can do that. (I think I’m getting a headache.)

  • Maura Farrelly

    As Martin Marty pointed out, in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, American Catholics were mistrusted by American Protestants, who condemned them using some of the same language that is used to condemn American Muslims today. Catholics were, in the words of the great Unitarian minister Theodore Parker, the “irreconcilable enemies of freedom.” And while Parker’s evaluation was totally overblown, it IS true that on a certain level, Catholicism was not inherently compatible with some of the liberal beliefs that make up American identity: individualism, republicanism, religious pluralism, and church-state separation. American Catholics came to embrace the liberal tenets of American identity, however, because the LIBERAL nature of America’s legal environment was the only thing that protected them from the ILLIBERAL nature of America’s cultural environment. So if it is true that there are some Muslims in America who have not yet embraced liberalism, people like Rabbi Weiss ought to be hoping and praying that this cultural center is built precisely where the organizers want it to be built. He should be praying that our liberal legal reality triumphs over our illiberal cultural reality — because it is that triumph that so powerfully embodies the superiority of a liberal society.

    And THANK YOU, Imam Bray, for putting to rest this bit of shrouded bigotry that suggests Muslims should “step away” in the name of peace and reconciliation… that if they were truly behaving like “people of faith,” they would build the center elsewhere. It is shocking how similar that argument is to the one that was made by the ministers in Birmingham whose complacency prompted MLK to write “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” Any educated person of faith (such as Rabbi Weiss) should be ashamed to be making it.

  • Ben

    I’m glad the discussion was had, but this was a mind-numbingly frustrating episode to which to listen.

    “Don’t build YOUR house here, because WE suffered here” is a ridiculous notion.

    Look what all has been done and what all we do IN THE NAME OF SKY FAIRIES.

  • gary


  • Ben


    Thank you for serving as a shining example of both the poor education and media-based mental usurpation that one may experience here in the good ol’ USA.

  • Achla

    I strongly agree with the writers, who have expressed the view on how restrictive Islam is, specially to women. It is asking Americans to be respect their religion and give them freedom to build the Islamic center on grounds of our fundamental orincipals of just soceity for all, but it ignoring the same standards amongst themselves. They have to accept women as an equal before they talk about a fair world. The clerics have to condemn Burkha and any other required covering of face, head etc, women as half a man, they can choose to walk wear whatever and all that stuff. Women is not a property of father, brother or husband1

  • Zinovy Vayman

    A simple solution.

    The Center should be built using the money of Jews, Christians, Muslims and other confessions. Atheists should be included.
    It will be a combination of synagogue, church, mosque and meditation center. Community rooms and halls may be added space permitting.

    A condominium! Not a private house.

    PS However many Muslims take their faith seriously, but Jews, Christians try to get rid of their rituals and want to lead their lives as agnostics.

  • Joshua Hendrickson


    yes, Islam does repress women, in very obvious ways. But it is not alone. If clerics “must” renounce the burkha (and I believe they should), then orthodox jews must refrain from thanking God they were not born a woman, the Catholics must ordain women as priests, and fundamentalist Christians must forego declaring men the head of the family.

    All of the monotheistic religions have been and remain antifeminist, with a few exceptions among the factions. It is inherent in their origins. Beliefs are beliefs, and not subject to anything like laws of fairness or equality. Forget trying to change religion; rather, let us as individuals change our beliefs so that religion can finally be swept into the dustbin of history.

  • John C

    People need to realize what 9/11 was in the grand scheme of things. It was a note to Americans and the rest of the “free world” that they can be attacked at any moment of any day. What is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan is probably a wake up call to other nations that America can kick ass and take names when ever it wants. We as a people need to stop looking back into history and playing the game of “They did this, so we are going to do this”. It gets us (as a species) no where.

    Much like the cold war through the middle of the 20th century we knew the Russians could kill us, and we knew we could kill the Russians with nuclear weapons. A similar (although not as grievous YET!) situation is taking shape now. I personally have pretty close to zero faith in our “security” forces that they could stop another attack like 9/11 in the future. Also I am pretty sure Iran and other “Rogue Nations” realize that they could be utterly destroyed with the flip of a switch.

    The USA has launched it’s own form of terrorism on the Islamic world, and we are FAR more effective at it than they are.

    We cannot fight hatred and violence with more hatred and violence. The only way to counter hatred is with Love. The only way to counter violence is with Compassion.

    What is the worst thing that can happen if a mosque (I know it isn’t actually a mosque) is built in NYC? Is that going to be a staging area for an Islamic invasion? Is there going to be an underground bomb making facility there? Are these real fears that people have?

    If these kinds of horrible things do happen, how will we (USA) respond? Will we go to war with the states that sponsored the terrorism? That probably means Saudi Arabia and or Iran. Will we crack down on the Muslim population inside our borders?

    The circle of violence will continue until we can all come together as HUMANS and realize that killing each other will never solve anything.

  • Ishmael

    What is particularly disturbing is how the right is playing on vague formless fears, as Dubya did for eight years (hence the “need” for invasion of places that had absolutely no — zero — connection with the 911 attacks, while the real criminals weren’t effectively pursued).
    It was necessary to paint Muslims with broad strokes indeed, and some were naive enough to link the crime with a religion instead of the criminals, similar to equating the bloody Mafia with the Catholic church.
    When people bagan confusing crime with warfare is when the whole effort went downhill, lost effectiveness and energized extremist criminal elements. Notice that “war on terror” has only increased terrorism.

  • Randy

    [Thanks, Tom! Saw following item on the net. Randy]


    Mayor “Napoleon” Bloomberg and his backstabbing cronies (including Obama and Pelosi) must have a $tupendou$ rea$on for wanting a sharia-hugging mosque near Ground Zero – a mosque threatening the collapse of the Islamophile Democrats come November!
    God-haters and America-haters may not realize how high the collective temperature has now risen in the hearts of true American patriots – many of whom are now willing to die for America right here in America if they get pushed completely over the line by traitors!
    Since the nation’s headquarters for treason is the White House, readers can enjoy related material if they Google “Obama Avoids Bible Verses” and “Obama Supports Public Depravity.” (This police-protected kinkiness, observable by children, occurs in “Madam” Nancy Pelosi’s brothel district; Google “Zombietime” and see “Up Your Alley Fair”!)
    Also Google “Sandra Bernhard, Larry David, Kathy Griffin, Bill Maher, Sarah Silverman” in addition to Googling “Obama…destined to become a black-slavery avenger.”
    And by all means visit Googleland and type in “Government-Approved Illegals” and “Un-Americans Fight Franklin Graham.”
    I hope Mayor Bloomberg, dressed as Napoleon, will thoroughly enjoy his mosquerade party!
    PS – Since Jane Fonda still loves leftist causes, here’s a one-liner I penned during the Vietnam War era that the big Kansas City paper ran: “I’m not Fonda Jane; her Laosy remarks Hanoi me!”

    By a Kansas Patriot
    (who won FIRST PLACE over 2200 entrants in a nationwide Americanism Essay Contest !)

  • Kent Gregson

    Mosque at Ground Zero

    The American Bigot Haters Committee would like to take this opportunity to condemn those who would oppose a mosque at Ground Zero. We understand that no mosque has been proposed at Ground Zero, just a Moslem center a few blocks away. None-the -less there are many people protesting a mosque at Ground Zero. Those are the people we’d like to identify and persecute as a group. They seem like bigots to us and a good target for our efforts.
    Since no mosque has been built or has even proposed to be built at Ground Zero it occurs to us that we may not be dealing with the brightest bulbs in the box and because this country was populated and founded on religious tolerance we feel that we could stick our necks out here and not get our heads cut off.
    So, we’d like to march into the fray with our banner held high enough to get ourselves some of that un-deserved attention that we see being lavished upon those loose cannons and misguided missiles. Hooray for us!
    Meanwhile those stupid protesters have stirred things up to the point where we must allow a mosque at Ground Zero so that we don’t look as dumb as they are.

    Mission Statement; The American Bigot Haters Committee is a non-existent organization who’s purpose is to identify bigots for persecution as a group. We hate bigots of all types without discrimination.
    Our motto; “The one thing we can’t stand is intolerance.”

  • Joshua Hendrickson


    although intolerance of intolerance may be an egregious contradiction, it is probably the only truly healthy and moral contradiction out there. Good luck with your non-existent organization, and consider me a non-member in good standing. Bigotry, like greed, selfishness, fundamentalism and other evils associated with the smallness of certain human minds, will never go away, which means that the future of opposing those evils is bright indeed.

  • Simone

    I just sent a long email to both the Rabbi and the Imam who were on the show, the same email copied to both of them. As for this discussion, I just have one more little point to add.

    For whatever reason, when I hear the words, “hallowed ground” I immediately see in my mind’s eye my favorite walking place. It is a lovely bird refuge with tall grass and the mist rising up off the water some early mornings. I can imagine those words conjure up other peaceful nature scenes for a lot of people, and if not nature scenes, at least places dear to their hearts.

    When I imagine that scene and I imagine building anything there, even a nice bakery that might make the world’s best croissant or a cute little bed and breakfast that is done very beautifully, it ruins the image for me and I find myself instinctively wanting to oppose building anything that will ruin the image I carry in my mind of “hallowed ground” even though it has nothing to do with the place being discussed.

    I would be willing to wager that this type of thing happens for lots of people at such a gut level they may not even realize it. I can see how easily a charismatic leader could tug at my heart strings in just about any direction if I am not very attuned to what comes up for me in reflexive flashes when just the right words are used.

    This is a problem with language. It is easy to manipulate people even if by accident. By using abstract terms with a deep heartfelt meaning, one can get people to see their own sacred place in their minds and then play on their desire to protect their own sacred place. One could even play on some people’s disappointment at having lost a favorite sacred place. Maybe natural undeveloped places they played as children are covered over in parking lots and their grief over losing those spaces can be displaced into wanting to protect what turns out to be just an old coat factory in a bustling city that they may have never even seen.

  • Tom

    I guess my question is this.

    Why, in this age of computers, and quantum theory, and space exploration, and the knowledge of biological evolution, are we still concerned with the meandering musings of various groups of goat thieves and camel rustlers who live from 2000 to 1300 years ago?

    Isn’t time to final consign yahweh and god and allah to the same garbage heap of history as jupiter and zeus and woden?

  • Matt

    Almost everyone who cries “Freedom of Religion” on this issue has not studied Islam. That’s the only way to ignore the fact that Islam has been at war with the rest of the world since it’s inception more than 1400 years ago. Muhammad cursed all Jews and Christians on his deathbed. There has never been a bloodier, more intolerant religion in history. I say do some cold research before jumping on any bandwagon.

Aug 20, 2014
A man holds his hands up in the street after a standoff with police Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, during a protest for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo. (AP)

A deep read on Ferguson, Missouri and what we’re seeing about race, class, hope and fear in America.

Aug 20, 2014
In this Oct. 21, 2013 file photo, a monarch butterfly lands on a confetti lantana plant in San Antonio. A half-century ago Monarch butterflies, tired, hungry and bursting to lay eggs, found plenty of nourishment flying across Texas. Native white-flowering balls of antelope milkweed covered grasslands, growing alongside nectar-filled wildflowers. But now, these orange-and-black winged butterflies find mostly buildings, manicured lawns and toxic, pesticide-filled plants. (AP)

This year’s monarch butterfly migration is the smallest ever recorded. We’ll ask why. It’s a big story. Plus: how climate change is creating new hybridized species.

Aug 19, 2014
Lara Russo, left, Cally Guasti, center, and Reese Werkhoven sit on a couch in their apartment in New Paltz, N.Y. on Thursday, May 15, 2014.  While their roommate story of $40,800 found in a couch made the news, other, weirder stories of unusual roommates are far more common. (AP)

From college dorms and summer camps to RVs and retirement hotels, what it’s like to share a room. True stories of roommates.

Aug 19, 2014
Police wait to advance after tear gas was used to disperse a crowd Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, during a protest for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer last Saturday in Ferguson, Mo. (AP)

“War zones” in America. Local police departments with military grade equipment – how much is too much, and what it would take to de-militarize America’s police force.

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