Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg is desperately trying to cash in his political capital from his handling of the city after the 9/11 attacks in his bid to be the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee.
On Sept. 11, 2001, 19 radicalized Muslim men used hijacked commercial planes against targets in the United States at the behest of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
New York City took the brunt of the attack as nearly 3,000 people were killed and over 6,000 injured in the attack on the World Trade Center.
Mayor Rudy Giuliani led the city through the dark period that followed, giving way to Bloomberg in January 2002.
The plans on how or even if to rebuild at the twin towers site took over a decade to finally be executed, but among those plans was a mosque and Islamic center just two blocks from ground zero.
Many were outraged that an Islamic holy site would be built so close to where the attacks by jihadists took place.
During a protest over the project, a ground zero construction worker asked, “If they put a mosque up right here in the shadow of the World Trade Center before we finished building it back up, what’s next?”
Bloomberg was vocal in his support of the project despite the strong opposition from many groups, including 9/11 families.
The mayor ignored those who justifiably opposed the project, saying in 2010, “I think it’s fair to say if somebody was going to try, on that piece of property, to build a church or a synagogue, nobody would be yelling and screaming,” according to the New York Post.
It’s worth noting that St. Nicholas, the Greek Orthodox church on the site of ground zero that was obliterated in the attacks, was still tied up in red tape after the mosque and Islamic center was approved, according to a report at the time by Newsweek. It remains unfinished.
The mosque and Islamic center project was shelved in 2011, and a condo was built in its place.
Bloomberg thinks the ground zero mosque is a winning issue for him. On Wednesday, he tweeted a reminder that he championed the cause.
“After 9/11, New Yorkers of all faiths came together to rebuild the city. So when groups opposed a mosque near Ground Zero, I spoke up,” he said. “Muslims are as much a part of NYC & America as people of any faith. Our doors are open to everyone with a dream and a willingness to work hard.”
Furthermore, a recent political ad put out by the presidential hopeful falsely boasted that he — not Giuliani — led a “complex diverse city through 9/11.”
As this issue will no doubt be part of the 2020 presidential campaign, thanks in large part to Bloomberg’s own campaign spotlighting it, there is another New Yorker who stood firm against the project.
In an effort to quash the planned mosque and Islamic center, Donald Trump offered to buy the site back when he was “real estate mogul” instead of “president.”
He reiterated the offer on Twitter back in 2012:
Trump was then and is now clearly head and shoulders above his political rival. Standing on his principles, Trump towers over the man he calls “Mini Mike.” There won’t be a big enough box at the debate podium to help Bloomberg overcome that.