The host of CNN’s GPS and Newsweek writer Fareed Zakaria has had just about enough of Abe Foxman and the Anti-Defamation League’s opposition to the downtown Manhattan mosque. In order to show his frustration, Zakaria has opted to return a first amendment award he received five years ago from the group, saying he could not “in good conscience hold onto the award,” according to a report from the New York Times Media Decoder blog. Zakaria will explain his stance on Sunday’s episode of his show. Kudos to Zakaria for not shying away, but instead owning his position as one of the most prominent Muslims in news media.
Joining obvious opponents like almost anyone affiliated with Fox News, the ADL announced last week that it did not support the building of the so-called-but-not-really “Ground Zero” mosque and Islamic community center in downtown Manhattan, out of respect for the families of 9/11 victims. Zakaria says, not good enough:
“I hope this might spur them to see that they have made a mistake and to return to their historic robust defense of freedom of religion in America, something they have subscribed to for decades and which I honor them for,” he said, according to a transcript provided by CNN. The episode was taped on Friday.
The ADL has responded in turn, with director Abe Foxman writing that he was “not only saddened but stunned and somewhat speechless” by Zakaria’s decision to return his Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize, and that Foxman “would have expected [Zakaria] to reach out… before coming to judgment.”
Foxman engages in some semantic warfare, saying that the ADL did not question the “right” for the center to be built, but merely made “an appeal based solely on the issues of location and sensitivity.” Foxman went on to insist that Zakaria was misunderstanding, writing: “I know you know well the work we do to fight prejudice and discrimination and promote respect and understanding among all people.” To which Zakaria might reply, “I told you I don’t want it.”