Planning for a ceremony being held in New York City to remember the tragic events of 9/11 has been marred in recent weeks by reports of political jockeying for roles in the event and the failure of New York officials to allow first responders to attend, although they reportedly will be permitted to gather in a nearby park. Fox News now reports that the city’s Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, a fierce proponent of the mosque project near Ground Zero, has denied clergy members any right to involvement in the ceremonies.
Furious religious leaders throughout the country have called for the Mayor to reverse his decision. Many religious leaders believe Bloomberg, who claims a love for diversity in New York, has been unfairly partial to those of the Muslim faith as the Ground Zero mosque project moves closer to reality.
Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic strategist and former Bloomberg employee, said of the Mayor in a recent Associated Press article regarding the mosque: “He believes in diversity and the greatness of New York is in the diversity of its people. He’s consistent. He doesn’t owe anything to anyone, and my hunch is that he’s not out of line with where most people in the city are on this issue.”
Bloomberg recently made fervent public statements about the importance of religious freedom in the United States regarding the mosque project.
“Democracy is stronger than this,” he said. “You know the ability to practice your religion was one of the real reasons America was founded. And for us to just say no is just, I think, not appropriate is a nice way to phrase it.”
Apparently, Rudy Washington, a Deputy Mayor in former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s Administration, feels the same about excluding religious leaders at the anniversary ceremony. Washington said: “This is America, and to have a memorial service where there’s no prayer, this appears to be insanity to me.”
As it stands, the 9/11 ceremony is set to include President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush as well as a handful of other political elite who will read selected poems and speeches.