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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. tim

    well said

    August 3, 2010 at 10:55 am |
  2. rick

    Contrary to PR, this is NOT for deepening relationships and understanding. If it were so, why pick such a controversial piece of property in such close connection with ground zero? The mere fact this property was selected tells you there is NO sensitivity to "western relationships" nor "American victims/heroes". This sight was selected to tower over, what Radical Islam perceives as, a victorious battlefield against the west and its values laced with promiscuity. A propoganda, recruitment center for others to follow!

    August 3, 2010 at 10:53 am |
  3. April

    Victoria, get a life!! First of all, if you paid any attention you would understand that it's blocks away from Ground Zero.

    If that ground is so sacred, why is anything being built on it? They're rebuilding the tower(s) on that site. Isn't that disrespectful too? Shouldn't it simply be a memorial if it's such sacred ground? But I see you apparently have no problem with cash being made or business being conducted in the future on "sacred ground".

    August 3, 2010 at 10:52 am |
    • Andy

      You missed the point April. A Business being built there isn't disrespectful to people who lost love ones on 9/11 people won't take that personally. I can be sympathetic to people who wouldn't want this mosque. I really don't know much about these muslims building and putting the money up for it, but i hope they are against all the terrorists that are the speakers for their religion and publicly do so

      August 3, 2010 at 10:58 am |
  4. whatsthat

    The German people tolerated the extermination of the Jews also as a matter of being PC. You people will wake up one day and wonder what happen to your freedom and your country but as long as you have your cell phones, wii and all that other junk you'll be happy.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:52 am |
  5. jim ewins

    Certain activities and their venues should be done privately, fornication and religious activities among them. Both are fine, in their place, but should not be seen by the sensitive.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:51 am |
  6. PROUD TEXAN

    I totally agree with Victoria. Come on guys this is a slap in the face and saying its OK!?!?!? Where have our dignity as a nation come to? I really feel for the families of the victims. I know we all want peace but that does not mean we have to agree or say "yes" on everything, sometime we have to stand our ground and simply say NO! Just remember that many of our troops joined because of 9/11 and for them to come home and see this, is just crazy. God help us all.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:51 am |
    • muzak

      Not everyone who died on September 11th were Christians. The whole nation was attacked. This is not about our dignity or a slap in the face. This is about religious freedom, which is what America is about.

      August 3, 2010 at 10:55 am |
    • Mac

      I too a proud Texan, and I'm with you.

      August 3, 2010 at 10:55 am |
    • Ibrahim Stuart

      do you also feel for the families of the victims who were Muslim... or do they not count?

      August 3, 2010 at 10:56 am |
    • Proregressive

      Texas is a slap in the face! The entire US is an afront to every Native American sitting on a reservation, every one who lost an anscestor on the Trail of Tears! The U.S. has built churches on the grounds of native American villages. This is pay back! Enjoy your dessert!

      August 3, 2010 at 11:00 am |
    • Kobe

      I will also say this to Muslims – YOU have a long way to go to make things better with US! It's not the other way around. I suggest that you start figuring out ways to smooth things over with the rest of America if you want a chance to live peacefully among us. Start talking to your leaders and figure out a way to heal the damage done by YOUR religion.

      August 3, 2010 at 11:11 am |
  7. Kevin

    this is the epitome of a bad idea.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:51 am |
  8. GQieenie923

    in 20-30 years when people TAKE OVER our state, you have no one to blame but the money sucker, creedy New York, STATE itself. THANKS NY.. YOU caved in... if it was a good idea none of this would be going on... MAYOR BLOOMBERG, doesnt care in 30 years he ll be on SS in a OLD AGE home,

    August 3, 2010 at 10:49 am |
  9. SamuelRhodes

    after reading all the comments on this story....i think we really need this islamic centre so it can educate new yorkers about what is islam is, it is after all the fastest growing religion in our country irrespective of whatever propaganda we do against muslims, we should make our personal judgement about muslims based on our direct interaction with them, rather then on what we hear on FOX news.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:48 am |
    • Mac

      History is all we need, it always repeats itself. We don't need this.

      August 3, 2010 at 10:51 am |
    • JamesAtif

      Mac: So you're saying there will be another Christian crusade (which they claimed to be a holy war) and Spanish inquisition. We all need to learn coexist. Muslims, Christians, Jews, and so on. We need to talk to each rather than what we see on the news.

      August 3, 2010 at 10:55 am |
    • Mac

      James you are right, I just don't think this is a good Idea to put one that close to ground zero.

      August 3, 2010 at 10:58 am |
    • JamesAtif

      Mac: I certainly understand your concern and I had so many questions after 9/11. I have a lot of Muslim friends and I went to them and asked questions. They went through and showed me what it says about killing people and what the pure form of Islam is. In the Qur'an it says killing one person is like killing the entire human race. Also, it says suicide it forbidden no matter the cause. I think its important to be near ground zero because it gives the attention to get people to go there, for one reason. Other wise, people just be like oh, another ground to breed terrorists. If it was on ground zero I, and I know all of my Muslim brothers and sisters in my community, would be appose to it.

      August 3, 2010 at 11:03 am |
    • Mac

      James well said.

      August 3, 2010 at 11:07 am |
    • Chuck

      @Samuel: AND, the fast growing segment of Christianity is from muslim converts.

      August 3, 2010 at 12:21 pm |
  10. David123

    If people really cared they would have been marching in the streets....

    August 3, 2010 at 10:48 am |
    • Andy

      it's probably already happening. I have already heard rumors that construction workers will boycott building the mosque, so who will they find to build it

      August 3, 2010 at 10:52 am |
    • LearnToRead

      A lot of those construction workers are probably Muslim. Do you understand the level of ethnic diversity in New York?

      August 3, 2010 at 11:37 am |
    • Chuck

      They DID protest in the streets – thousands and thousands of people. The event(s) were not covered at all by the media, but by bloggers. Google "ground zero protest blog" and you will see all the photos and videos. In the photos and videos you will see ethnicism, religion-o-phobia, media-hate, politician-smacking, and pleas for compassion and sensitivity. The bloggers have not censored what the media has blacked-out.

      August 3, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
  11. MC

    If the majority of people in NYC remain quiet and apathetic, then I guess the mosque WILL be builtl there....inaction leads to our own destructon...look at history...

    August 3, 2010 at 10:48 am |
  12. Mac

    This is actual BS to even retain the thought.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:48 am |
  13. Proregressive

    It's a few blocks away! It's not on ground zero. Besides our entire nation was built on native American hollowed ground!

    August 3, 2010 at 10:47 am |
    • Brent

      No it wasnt

      August 3, 2010 at 11:01 am |
    • Mike

      Absolutely ridiculous comment... if that was the case then America would have completely caved in by now...

      "hollowed ground" lol

      August 3, 2010 at 1:13 pm |
  14. Dina

    Victoria, your ignorance is showing. Calling all Muslims "you people" (terrrorists) is like calling all southern whites KKK members.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:47 am |
  15. Kobe

    What a slap in the face. Not all muslims are terrorists but all terrorists were muslims that flew those planes into our towers slaughtering my countrymen and attacking my country. And now they want to build a mosque in the very place where their muslims brothers slaughtered innocents in the name of Allah?

    Screw you muslims and take your mosques back to your stone age countries where you can stone women from even looking at a man wrong, and slowly saw off the heads of those who disagree with you, hide behind your own women and children when fighting us, murdering those who even THINK of converting away from Islam, I could go on and on.

    Question for you muslims – if Islam is so great then why are you flocking to countries like France, and UK? Then you breed like a virus until you numbers are so great that you demand Sharia Law and totally disregard the culture of the very country that you're taking over? Why don't you stay in your own Muslim countries since Islam is so wonderful? Want to answer that?

    I tell you this – I don't see hindu's flying planes into buildings, I don't see buddhists sawing off heads on television. If you muslims would just shut the eff up and practice your religion like everyone else this wouldn't be an issue.

    One more thing – if the few minority are the ones apparently ruining your religion then why don't you stand up against them? Take to the streets like you do when something doesn't go your way like I see when you burn the American flag and stomp on pictures of our president? Where were you when 9/11 happened? You good muslims? You sat on your hands. Meanwhile all I saw were images of muslims all over the world celebrating in the streets after my own country had been attacked.

    This is a sad day indeed when weak America gives in to political correctness. How about a facility for ALL religions to use? Where people of ALL religions can come and meditate? Nope had to be a freaking muslim Mosque. Unbelievable.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:47 am |
    • PROUD TEXAN

      Amen brotha!

      August 3, 2010 at 11:01 am |
    • Rob

      My thoughts exactly. If Islam is a religion of peace, it sure is not showing it. Wherever Islam spreads, violence erupts. Go ahead NYC, soon you will be like Paris, where Muslim youths riot and torch cars when something doesn't go their way.

      August 3, 2010 at 11:02 am |
    • Jason

      yes Kobe, the people who attacked us are the same people who are building this mosque. moron.

      August 3, 2010 at 11:41 am |
    • family guy

      so the sunni and shia will share this mosque at the same time ?
      if you follow the news it has alot of stories of muslims blowing up muslims in mosques and their getting better at it .
      what happans if the muslims blow up other muslims .
      i hope they have security cameras , could be reallity tv at its best

      August 3, 2010 at 10:34 pm |
  16. Shawn

    It amazes me that we live in such an ignorant world. We have made so many advances in technology but it is like they always say you can't fix stupid. The Muslims who are trying to build this Mosque are not the ones who knocked down the towers and to punish them for something that they had not done is not only Un-American but it is illegal and also not the Christian thing to do. Does not our Bible preach forgiveness.(and please do not preach to me about an eye for an eye for Jesus Brought us the new law saying turn the other cheeck

    August 3, 2010 at 10:46 am |
    • Jayrock

      Only follow your teachings when it is beneficial to you, if not then ignore them. The Christian way of life.

      August 3, 2010 at 8:07 pm |
  17. Renee

    I am not sure how much damage this building sustained, but I sure hate that they are going to tear it down. As far as the mosque goes, it is clearly salt in an open wound. I don't feel this move will bridge any gaps.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:46 am |
  18. JamesAtif

    The council said, with all the research they did, you can't even see it from ground zero. From what I heard they are rebuilding or have rebuilt a church across the street from ground zero. I haven't been to the city on a while, but I believe it is chruch st? Anyways, its freedom of religion and this has nothing to do with sharia law. In the Qur'an it says to follow the law of the land. America does not interfere with the rights of Muslims. We are allowed to pray so what would be the point of sharia law anyways.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:46 am |
    • SGT Eric

      Nope the St Nicholas Church has not been rebuilt and keeps getting pushed back. The burocrats keep putting up roadblocks and preventing it. The parish has been trying for NINE years to rebuild but not even the corner stone has been laid. So why the rush to build this mosk? Until the leader of this group comes out saying that churches should be allowed to be built in mecca, NO MOSK HERE!

      August 3, 2010 at 11:15 am |
    • kh

      @ Eric,
      They haven't even built the old church that was destroyed yet? Well.. I guess they thought it would offend, some, but better them than others. I'm not even religious and I find that odd. They'll advocate building a new building down the road to foster tolerance, but the bureaucrats won't allow another one religious building that was destroyed during 9/11 to be rebuilt?

      August 3, 2010 at 12:05 pm |
    • SGT Eric

      @kh. The grounds for the old church are holding up construction for the memorial because that is in the middle of thesite for the memorial park. A trade was proposed by The Port Authority for exchange of that land for other land just up the way, but now the Port Authority wants to put the new bomb screening center to the site under the church. This will require a bomb proof foundation and raise the level of the church. There is a disagreement on who will pay for that foundation.

      The church feels since the Port Authority wants to use the land for a bomb screening center requiring a extremely expensive foundation, that the Port Authority should pay for the foundation. This foundation will cost about $40 MILLION dollars. Until the the Port Authority trades this land with the church, no construction is possible. However the Port Authority is bending over backwards to allow this mosk to be build. Fair is fair. No progress on this church, NO MOSK.

      August 3, 2010 at 1:04 pm |
  19. Rob

    Promoting positive interaction between the Muslim world and the West? Rright. It is a shame a building from the 1850s gets torn down for this. Then again, no one wants to publicly speak out against it publicly probably because persons who do regularly receive death threats as a means of fostering tolerance between our cultures.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:46 am |
    • kh

      You make a good point about the building. I doesn't look like it's falling apart. It's a historical building. Why tear it down?

      August 3, 2010 at 12:00 pm |
  20. Kh

    @tolerant,
    How tolerant is it to say you want to build your religious building assuring people you will teach tolerance.. when you see people in 2 categories Muslim or Non-Muslim? People are so much more than either one or the other. It should be either interfatih (really put that tolerance to the test). Or something completely different.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:44 am |
    • tolerant

      These are merely outer labels we have given ourselves and others. The inner realities of all religions are the same. Dive into the inner dimensions and the outer forms disappear. There are as many ways to the Divine Essence as there are human hearts. Everyone is on a unique journey to reach their optimum level of consciousness.

      We need to see "others" as "us" as we all have the same basic needs and essence.

      August 3, 2010 at 10:59 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.