9/11 Anniversary Marked By Anger, Controversy
LIANE HANSEN, Host:
NPR's Margot Adler reports from New York, where it was a day of both remembrance and politics.
MARGOT ADLER: Unidentified Woman #1: Tervus Andrea Akin(ph).
ADLER: This year, the names were read by family members and by architects, iron and construction workers that are building the memorial at Ground Zero. New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg said no other tragedy had cut the city so deeply. He talked about compassion, love and solidarity.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: It is with the strength of these emotions, as well as the concrete, glass and steel that is brought in day by day that we will build on the footprints of the past the foundation of the future.
ADLER: Almost 2,000 people gathered for a vigil Friday night near the proposed center, many holding lit candles, some waving American flags.
HANSEN: (Singing) Hey, Americans, do you think you'll ever learn. It's only fear that feeds the fire and makes your anger burn.
ADLER: The event was sponsored by New York Neighbors for American Values, a coalition of civic, religious and civil rights organizations formed to support the right of the cultural center to go forward. James Forbes, the senior minister emeritus of the Riverside Church, said the ground here is sacred but any celebration of sacredness must not desecrate what is sacred to others.
JAMES FORBES: And my God has told me that whenever I claim sacredness, I must make sure that it does not lead to the diminishment of the value and the work of my brothers and sisters of all sorts of religious traditions.
ADLER: The anti-mosque rally by the group Stop the Islamization of America had signs saying Islam and Shariah law were dangerous. There were fewer signs, more American flags and don't tread on me flags were abundant. Bill Shields, a flower seller from Connecticut, was holding one of them. He came to oppose the mosque.
BILL SHIELDS: Putting that mosque in this area, at this particular place, is akin to erecting a statue to Enola Gay in Nagasaki. It can't happen.
ADLER: Police were out in force, keeping demonstrators in pinned areas. 45 Park Place, the site of the proposed Islamic center, was completely blocked off. But in some fenced-in areas, pro and anti-mosque people were together in one spot, and there were verbal skirmishes. Here is Gene Wagner and Terrence Roots(ph) arguing over the Quran.
GENE WAGNER: When you disguise that as a religion - that's not a religion, bro. That's hate.
TERRENCE ROOTS: (Unintelligible). You never read the Quran.
WAGNER: I can't read it because I'm not Arabic, so I can't...
ADLER: Margot Adler, NPR News, New York.