TODAY   |  September 07, 2010

Anti-Muslim rhetoric flares near 9/11 anniversary

As NBC’s Mike Taibbi reports, the increasingly angry debate over a planned mosque near ground zero has spread far beyond New York City.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> it's hard to believe this weekend will mark the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. and the angry debate over the mosque at ground zero has increased animosity against muslims nationwide. mike tiabbi is in downtown manhattan outside the proposed site.

>> reporter: it took a few months after the plans for the islamic center mosque were made public for the protests to begin.

>> we are not going to allow that mosque.

>> reporter: over the weekend, another protest. this one joined by local politicians, including new york congressman peter king .

>> just because you have the right to build a mosque does not make it right to build a mosque at ground zero .

>> reporter: actually it's two blocks from ground zero , but for some opponents proximity hasn't been the point. bill keller says flatly the whole muslim religion is in his words a lie.

>> i believe the 1,400-year history of islam is very clear, it's a religion of hate, violence and death.

>> reporter: last week hall of fame golfer carolm mann wrote on her facebook page, america is a christian country, let the muslims erect their worship centers in other countries. talk show host michael berry said this to the supporters of a local islamic center .

>> i'll tell you this, if you do build a mosque, i hope somebody blows it up.

>> we are going to have an international burn a koran day.

>> reporter: given the overheated rhetoric, some say it's no wonder that when a new york cabbie answered yes last week to a customer's question, are you a muslim, the customer, a young film student stabbed him in the neck almost kill hg im.

>> that can happen.

>> he and some of the other muslims see the growing -- islamic center should go forward.

>> it doesn't seem right, it doesn't seem very islamic to me.

>> reporter: but they say they're certain the extreme opposition will weaken over time .

>> we are americans and we are loyal to this nation and we believe that one day all of america will recognize that islam is a religion of peace .

>> reporter: for now, though, there are those continuing protests, along with anger directed at muslims generally and at their religion that tests the limits of compromise. as for the plans by that tiny florida church to burn a pile of korans, he said david petraeus says if that happens, it could well endanger the lives of american troops and damage the