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August 3rd, 2010
10:14 AM ET

Panel denies landmark status for Islamic center and mosque site near ground zero

From CNN Senior Correspondent Allan Chernoff in New York:

New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission denied landmark status Tuesday for a building at the site of a proposed Islamic center and mosque near ground zero.

The commissioners voted unanimously against landmark status for 45-47 Park Place. It and an adjoining building are owned by real estate developer Soho Properties, which intends to build an Islamic center two blocks north of the former site of the World Trade Center.

While the public vote was the focus of much debate about the planned Islamic center and mosque, the commission could not have prevented the developers from building such a community center. The commission, by designating the building a landmark, could only have prevented Soho Properties from demolishing the building or significantly altering its exterior.

There is a prayer site in the building currently, so Muslims are peacefully praying in the building already.

"We will continue going forward with the project. It's a project that will build bridges," said Oz Sultan, spokesman for the Cordoba Initiative, the organization behind the planned center. It says the group is "committed to promoting positive interaction between the Muslim world and the West."

Cordoba opposed landmark status for the five-story building because it would like to build a taller, modern building. "It's not minarets," said Sultan, who described a mock-up of the proposed center as consistent with the latest architecture found in New York City.

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and other city leaders support the Islamic center.

Opponents, including former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, have argued against a mosque being so close to the scene of the nation's worst terrorist attack.

"Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing," Palin said last month on her Twitter account.

The Anti-Defamation League, an organization that battles anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry, is asking that the Islamic center and mosque be built farther away from ground zero in consideration of families who lost loved ones during the September 11, 2001, attacks.

"Building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain - unnecessarily - and that is not right," the organization said in a written statement.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission pointed out prior to its decision that it would have nothing to do with the planned use of the structure.

"The purpose of tomorrow's vote is to decide whether the building has a special character or special historical or aesthetic interest or value as part of the development, heritage or cultural characteristics of New York City, New York state or the nation," commission spokeswoman Elisabeth de Bourbon said Monday.

Most recently the home of a Burlington Coat Factory retailer, 45-47 Park Place was completed in 1858. The Landmarks Commission described it as "a prominent example of the store and loft structures that dominated the dry goods warehouse districts of Lower Manhattan" during the era.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Houses of worship • Interfaith issues • Islam • Mosque • Muslim • New York • United States

soundoff (1,819 Responses)
  1. M. Ismail

    I am Muslim and I appreciate the gesture shown by New yorker and that is why America is great and I love this country. I believe now Muslim should voice and not build Mosque there. Rather there should be some combined worship or interfaith institute. To all my Christian friends who are passionate about this issue, please don't push all Muslims in one Basket, believe me most problem is economics in these world and failed government and corruption has lead to this extremism, we must use brain rather than emotion to solve this problem. Emotions will bring more misery for every one and calmness and intellectual decisions will solve these issues. No human being is born to hate other, this is all learned phenomenas and can be changed.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:34 am |
  2. Toby

    John 3:18 (NKJV) “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already."

    Want to try again?

    August 3, 2010 at 11:34 am |
  3. Zach

    i can't believe how some americans are truly ignorant....i live in lower manhattan, GROUND ZERO is about a mile away from where the mosque is being bulit. blocks are way bigger in NYC than elsewhere, you would know that if you had ever visited

    all of that is beside the point, 9/11 was a greatly orchestrated deception.. the deception seems to be working EXACTLY how the deceivers wanted it to.....history will eventually open your eyes

    August 3, 2010 at 11:34 am |
    • Hassan

      I agree with you Zach, we might will not be around but one day the truth will unfold.....

      August 3, 2010 at 12:01 pm |
    • Wademan

      Zach, I am in total agreement with you. I have attempted to post things in like manner on this blog, but CNN is blocking all my comments. Keep up the good work! Keep posting, we have to get the word out!
      I hope this post goes through.

      August 3, 2010 at 2:02 pm |
  4. MagSeven

    "DEATH TO THE INFIDELS"

    August 3, 2010 at 11:34 am |
  5. Tom

    Lindsey – please educate yourself. Allah is the Christian god because that word literally means god in Arabic which even Arab Christians use to refer to their "Christian God". Education is key my friend.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:33 am |
    • RC Cola

      Tom - please educate yourself. As an Arab Christian, the Allah of Islam is not the same as the Christian God, who is Triune. That's like saying to a good skateboarder, "You are like God on that thing". Same English word as God, but not the same thing. I wise man once told me, education is key.

      August 3, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
      • JohnQuest

        RC Cola, are you saying that Allah is just "some dude that can do tricks", where are you getting your data from.

        August 3, 2010 at 1:38 pm |
      • Common Misconception

        Actually, they are the same. Islam has its roots in the religions based on the covenant of Abraham, namely Judiasm and later Christianity. All important figures (Adam, Moses, Jesus) are recognized in the Islamic faith. This can all be discovered with a two minute google search.
        What you are referring to would be the lower-case god usage, such as “You are like a god on that thing”. It’s pluralistic and simply means something of incredible power, rather than being a reference to a monotheistic diety.

        August 3, 2010 at 1:40 pm |
      • Vixil

        Did the wise man also tell you that spell and grammar check are you friend?

        August 3, 2010 at 2:41 pm |
  6. Gene

    Well today Liberals and Islamofacsists won the battle to further weaken America. But they have not won the war. I think with the building of this mosque middle America and people who don't normally follow politics will finally see this Liberal government for what it is. 2012 can come quicker.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:33 am |
  7. Vijay Kumar

    Its in Quran and moslem relegion to built a mosque wherever they attacked and win to mark as a victory of Islam.
    Pathetic moslems
    Islam came centuries after Christ and Mohammed call christ one of the the person of Allah , and at the same time he wrote in quoron all non beievers are in fedels and ought to slaughtered.

    The History, One day a pedophile name mohammed went to bunch of brainless people and claimed that he has been sent by the great "Allah" to kill non beleivers of his story and cult.

    I say let them built the Mosque and one day we all infedels are going to burn it like we did in Ayodhya India

    August 3, 2010 at 11:33 am |
    • LearnToRead

      That was one of the most incomprehensible comments I've ever read. Last time I checked, Muslims aren't the ones worshiping eight-armed ceramic dolls and asking them for blessings.

      August 3, 2010 at 12:44 pm |
    • rahul

      I agree Vijay...for all stupid people like "LearnToRead". Even if we worship ceramic dolls or monkeys or anything else. But we do not propogate killing in name of religion and we actually promote harmony. May be entire world should start worshipping monkeys and dolls so they develop peace and tolerance. Become humans and then talk about God.

      August 3, 2010 at 12:56 pm |
  8. Matrix

    I am torn on this situation. In a way its a free country. The other part of me says it's disrespectful to allow this. I think a church needs to be built in Saudia Arabia, Egypt, and all the other countries that are mainly Islamic. Then we will see about bridges. In some ways, having this mosque could be a great terrorist round up if that be the case. Im sure some great intel could be collected if they really wanted to build bridges.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:33 am |
    • Jason

      matrix, there are churches every where in Muslim countries. the Coptic Christians have a huge following in Egypt and have churches there. Saudi Arabia is a bit different and comparing Saudi to USA is ignorant. The real comparison is Saudi and Vatican. They are both considered holy places in Islam and Christianity. Just like mosques cant be built in Vatican churches cant be built in places that are sacred to islam. I dont see what the big deal is.

      August 3, 2010 at 12:00 pm |
  9. freepalestine

    at least the muslims love Jesus. Jews hate Jesus. They are the original anti-christ. In fact, all practicing jews are anti-christ.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:33 am |
  10. Justice

    LET THEM BUILD THE MOSQUE...IF EVER AMERICA IS ATTACKED AGAIN BY THE SAME GROUP...THEN DESTROY EVERY MOSQUE IN THE COUNTRY...AND GET THEM OUT AND SEND THEM BACK TO THEIR CAVES...

    August 3, 2010 at 11:33 am |
  11. Dave Templeton

    Coming soon, a mosque in a neighborhood near you. Muslims are terrorists even to their own people. Is Mayor Bloomberg that hard up for votes that he had to support this? Well Barry and Michelle can be proud of the "Hope and Change" they have cast on this nation.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:32 am |
  12. Kris in FL

    maybe someone will sell all pork hotdogs and cold beer out front? Let's at least keep the protestors full and hydrated.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:32 am |
    • LearnToRead

      Kris in FL has obviously not been in NY. Hot dog stands are already at every corner. OMG a mosque with a hot dog stand by it!! Oh no!

      August 3, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
  13. Jrod

    @Tone
    Are you kidding? It's VERY often that Christians fly into other nations, destroy them and force Christianity down their throat. Read a book!

    August 3, 2010 at 11:32 am |
  14. freepalestine

    at least the muslims love Jesus. Jews hate Jesus. They are the original anti-christ. In fact, all practicing jews are anti-christ.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:32 am |
  15. Paul

    What is wrong with you people? Just because Saudi Arabia is intolerant of Christians that gives you the right to ignore the entire premise that this country was founded on and deny AMERICAN citizens their right to a religious community center? Shame on all of you!

    August 3, 2010 at 11:32 am |
  16. alreadybored

    you know what I haven't had in while? big league chew...

    August 3, 2010 at 11:32 am |
  17. carolae

    It really doesn't matter what "we the people" want. Since the U.S. will be run by Muslims in the next decade or two, I guess it just doesn't matter anymore. If the vote does go through and the Mosque is built on it, there will be extremist groups out there blasting it to kingdom come.....then what. So much for their good intentions of 'building bridges' between our cultures. In reading some of the comments above, I would like to see if a church would ever be allowed to be built over there in the Emirates, etc.....I don't think so. We need not to think of that site as 'hallowed ground' but a place when you walk by that you remember what happened there. Having a Mosque built there will be a daily reminder of all of the people who died for nothing and N.Y. is allowing it to happen.....very sad.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:31 am |
  18. Tom

    Phil – That makes absolutely no sense. Mecca is a holy city, it is like asking to build a synagogue or mosque in Vatican City. NYC on the other hand is not a holy city and there are already Mosques there.

    Larry – Saudi Arabia is a government that is separate and apart from Muslims respect and reverence for Mecca itself. Saudi Arabia does not practice "Islamic" law, they have so many laws that have nothing to do with Islam such as not allowing churches in their country. The fact is that you should not look at Saudi Arabia as being the country with authority on Muslim law or as the example of a Muslim country. There are plenty of majority Muslim countries with churches. Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, Nigeria, Senegal, and the list can go on and on and on. Do not be so ignorant my friend.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:31 am |
  19. Earl Grey

    Ahhh, another "red Herring" culture war issue that the right-wing will use to distract average Americans with. Suckers!

    August 3, 2010 at 11:31 am |
    • Robert

      Agreed.
      This is a non-issue.

      I find it troubling the immediate association so many politicians make between islam and terrorism. I see a lot of "I don't see churches in Saudi Arabia" and similar sentiments. This is ridiculous.

      These are AMERICANS building a religious and cultural center in America. Point closed.

      What will the terrorists think if they see this? They think we live in a much tolerant and better country than they do.

      August 3, 2010 at 11:44 am |
  20. sakibaba

    "Two wrongs do not make a right."
    Mahatma Gandhi

    August 3, 2010 at 11:30 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.