On Monday no more than half a dozen people were in front of the alleged “Ground Zero Mosque” in lower Manhattan, a contrast to the mobs of dueling protesters there on Sunday. From a distance I took a few shots of a trio, one of whom—given his youthful appearance—might have been an Apprentice Imam. I went over and asked His Holiness if I could take his picture.
“You may NOT,” he replied loudly with considerable vigor. “My religion teaches me that if you take my picture, you steal my SOUL, so absolutely no, I will not give you permission.”
I didn’t want to spoil his day by saying I’d already stolen his soul from across the street, so I said, “Okay, fine, no worries,” and moved on to listen in on an interview Erik Badia of the New York Daily News was conducting with a guy with a sign named Dan Sky.
Sky told Badia that he felt an obligation to make a small effort to combat or at least tone down all the hatred that’s flowing about, not just here at this site, but all over the country. Badia asked how long he intended to keep coming here. “Maybe once or twice a week,” Sky replied, “whatever I can spare from my work.”
“Now, who could object to something so fundamentally American as religious tolerance?" Sky said. "Apparently a hell of a lot of people, and it’s surprising, and deeply disturbing. It was ugly here yesterday."
Glenn Greenwald of Salon had the best comment on the big competing protests on this spot yesterday, here.
Jeanne Noonan, Badia’s photographer, raised her camera and aimed at me the moment I raised my camera and aimed at her. She seemed awfully camera shy, but I understood perfectly. Myself, I feel vastly self-conscious and uncomfortable when someone takes my picture. Behind my own camera peering through the viewfinder, I’m safe and secret as an anonymous observer. I like being safe and secret.