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August 11th, 2010
03:12 PM ET

Controversial New York Islamic center will not relocate to public land

CNN's Alona Rivord filed this report:

Developers of a Muslim community center near the site of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York Wednesday declined an offer by Gov. David Paterson to relocate the project.

Paterson had suggested Tuesday that state-owned property could provide an alternative building site for the controversial project.

"If the sponsors were looking for property anywhere at a distance that would be such that it would accommodate a better feeling among the people who are frustrated, I would look into trying to provide them with the state property they would need," Paterson told reporters.

Developers say the current location for the project - two blocks from ground zero - was selected intentionally to serve the Lower Manhattan community.

"We have a tremendous amount of respect for our governor, and we are always interested in hearing what our leaders have to say, and what their ideas and proposals are. But this has always been about serving Lower Manhattan," said developer Sharif El-Gamal of Soho Properties.

The proposed $100 million, 13-story facility, which is being built by the Cordoba Initiative, will include a mosque, performing arts center, gym, swimming pool and other public spaces. The Cordoba Initiative describes itself as a Muslim outreach group.

The project has drawn fierce opposition from many families of victims of the 9/11 attacks, as well as from several members of Congress and some religious groups. Some have argued that building a mosque near ground zero is disrespectful to the victims of the attacks.

"I don't have any objection to it being built there," Paterson said Tuesday. "But I am very sensitive to the desire of those who are adamant against it to see something else worked out."

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

"Those of us in public service are going to have to create a greater dialogue right now to try to make sure those feelings are heard to whatever extent we can," Paterson said.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Islam • New York • Politics • United States

soundoff (859 Responses)
  1. Mitchell

    The Cordoba Initiative people say all the right things. Funny, considering the religion which they espouse has the consept of Al Taquia – Lying to infldels when it suits a greater good.

    How does one know the truth, one wonders...Perhaps if an organization is saying all the right things, then offers you grave disrespect as it does so, you can infer that it does not mean all the kind things it says...

    August 23, 2010 at 1:02 pm |
  2. Billie Martinovich

    September 11th attacks were perpetrated by Muslim extremists. People despise the extremists and terrorists acts using any religion for their evil and selfish intention. Building this mosque would prove that we are not intimated by ignorant terrorist extremists acts.

    We are civilized, wiser and noble. There is compassion and understanding toward our fellow man and respect for diversity of religions and cultures. That is what this country was founded on. This Islamic community Center will try to teach our children and future generations the skills to stand in harmony and build bridges of peace.

    I feel bad for the suffering families of 9/11 that lost loved ones. But, I believe, by building this mosque and community center in the same sacred place, something good would be accomplished. Their suffering and sacrifices would not go in vain. America and the world will always remember!

    August 22, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
  3. Tommie

    This mosque will be a real trophy for Islam. Especially since it is in the "death zone" which is so highly prized and valued by radical muslims. Fittingly the very same people who financed the destruction of the WTC will also help finance the trophy too. Ground Zero will be a great recruiting tool too. As Iman Rauf describes in his book – "A Call to Prayer from the World Trade Center Rubble: Islamic Dawa in the Heart of America Post-9/11"

    August 22, 2010 at 9:36 am |
  4. Soldier who's seen "peaceful" islam

    All these complete fools that are pro mosque should read the quran before they shoot off their mouths. They need to read the history of islam as well. And check out the definitions of "caliphate" , "hudna", and "dhimmitude." It's mind blowing that these people willl call others ignorant, racist, and bigots so they themselves can feel more open-minded, intellectual and elite. They are like the middle school bully who puts other kids down so he can feel better about themselves. It's pathetic. Hey wanna-be's answer this please: How can you be tolerant of a religion that wants to kill you?

    August 22, 2010 at 6:11 am |
  5. birdseye

    All religions should be treated equally. But learn more before taking a position on this topic. Anyone who reads the quran in its entirety cannot honestly say it is a peaceful religion. Most moderate muslims may want peace, but Islam in practice is very violent and hateful as anyone who experienced it can see. Its main agenda is political and world domination and when hence cannot really be called a religion though it tries to take advantage of religion status. Except for Islam, all the worlds religions are more about worshiping God and developing yourself spiritually, but Islam is very little to do with worshiping God and more about eliminating non-members or discriminating heavily against them wherever there are sizable numbers of muslims or in powerful positions. These are facts that Americans haven't yet started to face so are being so supportive of islam. Muslim world will never return the favor and continue to find grievances against america and other non-muslim powers however generous you are towards them.

    August 18, 2010 at 10:10 pm |
  6. Phil Nomore

    Ok, let me get this straight: The aftermath of 911 and the pile of rubble at the WTC is not enough evidence as to what happens when the "My God is better than your God" issue comes to fruition, yet we continue to have this attitude about houses of worship being built here or there or anywhere for that matter. How about this, no church, no mosque, no temple, no synogogue, no YMCA, no prayer room, no suncatcher, no religious symbolism, or house of worship at the WTC or anywhere nearby. Statistically, more people christian, muslim, jewish and otherwise get to live. Just saying.....

    August 16, 2010 at 8:33 pm |
  7. rsfselig

    we need harmony not division

    August 14, 2010 at 9:25 pm |
  8. jack

    This case is a real challenge for the leader of the free world – I hope the USA will stay “free” and follow the ideals of their founders. The Muslims of NY on the other hand could set a bright signal to the world if they would install in their mosque a memorial site for the victims of 9/11 where they deeply regret what happened then and condemn the way radical Muslims act.

    August 14, 2010 at 11:12 am |
  9. LK

    This will be another center for tererist and anti west and anti American propaganda. America WAKE UP.

    August 14, 2010 at 4:27 am |
  10. Tabitha Korol

    Some of the above are a bit misinformed, and you really should be reading up on Islam before you make assumptions. Among the better books is "Stealth Jihad" by Robert Spencer. This has nothing to do with HATE on our part. It has everything to do with defending ourselves from their HATE of everything that is non-Islamic. 80% of the Qu'ran demands that Muslims kill the infidel...that's all the Jews and Christians. Look around the world...wherever there is at least 8% Muslim in a country, there is unrest. it's not US...it's Islam.
    Even though we've all been accused of Islamophobia, haven't you really thought, "me? prejudice against Muslims? No, I'm not." Well, that's the ploy. By accusing us of prejudice, we bend over backwards to be extremely courteous, polite, accommodating, acquiescent, giving in when we would not have given in to any other group on the planet! Don[t fall for the Islamists accusing us of hating them or not being tolerant. that's not so; please understand that it's a strategy and it works.
    Islam has already made some airports supply footbaths for Muslims (which in some Islamic countries are not even required)...but it's an accommodation and this is part of getting one's way in small increments until, before you know it, you've conceded to some major issues; this is sharia law. Saudi Arabia has given some serious funding for the printing of new history books that don't mention Islam's bloody past...it's whitewashed. the books say that Islam "spread" across the Middle East, and maybe the kids are picturing margarine or peanut butter, but you should be aware that since the advent of Muhammad, 270 million people were killed in the name of Allan. Whole cultures are gone...Zoroastrianism, Copts, Baha'is, Pharoanics, and more deaths of Jews and Christians...whole areas gone, so that these countries have new names. Medinah and Mecca were once great cities for the time for Jews and Christians; they were all slaughtered. This is how Islam "spread" and this is what our lower grades and university students are not learning anymore. When the Muslims held their prayer meeting on Madison Avenue (I rthink it was Madison, not sure now) in NYC, traffic was blocked, people couldn't get to shop or to their businesses, and we unwittingly accommodated Islam. What if the mosque goes up and more streets are blocked? What'll you do if business have to go out...people lose their jobs...women might be taunted for dressing as they do now because it will "offend" the sensibilities of the Muslims. this is Sharia law...forcing an issue to accommodate them. But they're in our country and they're doing nothing to accommodate us. Governer Paterson offered them another area to build, they said no...they're holding firm on what they want. Whatever happened to "When in Rome...?"
    Imam Rauf is a Wahhabi, the most violent, punishing, offensive sect...the one that's in Saudi Arabia. Little by little, the intent is to bring his form of Islam to the US (do you watch the news? it's happening in other countries all over the world)...they're succumbing, but we should be learning to defend our democracy before we're crushed too. He promises death to apostates; in islam, one can't leave the faith or they're killed. He'll continue to curb freedom of speech; it's happening now. They don't like the media to talk about Islam...so it's not in the papers much. Remember why...Islam stops them, otherwise there'd be plenty of news to write about 15,000 jihad attacks since 9/11 throughout the world, against 5 religions. islam doesn't like other religions...it doesn't tolerate them. It doesn't tolerate gays; they torture and kill. They don't allow unmarried couples to hold hands. They kill rape victims! They enforce female genital mutilation. They enshroud women in burqas, which is like being in a walking prison. By giving in to Islam, you're inviting their imam to implement all this...with their money, they can buy the adjacent buildings, and enlarge the mosque until it overshadows everthing.
    And if you're wondering that it's not Ground Zero, be reminded that there's still an airplane fusilage in the burlington Coat factory building...doesn't that make it Ground Zero.
    And most importantly, you wouldn't be permitted to build your house of worship in most of their countries...you don't have to accommodate them here. There's a great expression I learned – think about it: Tolerance of INTOLERANCE is not tolerance; it is cultural suicide. We have to be strong against this very formidable enemy of democracy.

    August 13, 2010 at 9:10 pm |
  11. Gregg

    In fact, building a Mosque directly on ground zero would be a perfect way to push back against the terrorists that destroyed the Twin Towers. True Islam did not attack America, militant extremists fraudulently hiding under the guise of Islam did. Let’s pull the veil away from al-Qaeda by being loving and accepting of our true Islamic brothers and sisters.

    And … no, I am not Islamic myself. I am a red blooded, church going, American patriot that practices the teachings of Jesus Christ. I am also intelligent enough not to falsely endow my enemies with the non-existent support of the World’s second largest religion.

    August 12, 2010 at 9:46 pm |
  12. MONALISA

    WHY IN USA?????? WHY NOT IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY!!!!???? WITH THEIR OLD AND FOSSIL LAWS !

    August 12, 2010 at 6:51 pm |
  13. A Soldier Deployed

    Unfortunately, you cannot violate first ammendment rights. I do not serve this country so that rights can be taken from individuals. I serve the Republic, the Law and the Constitution. This is more sacred than the opinions of individuals who seek to impose limits on freedom.

    The government never was designed to take away the freedoms of individuals. We fought a war, our most bloody war in history, over the fulfillment of our Declaration of Independence.

    The issues that hurt me the most as a citizen and learned individual, are the lies and slander about Islam that are being spread by those who are afraid of Islam. You are scared and witless, willing to listen to lies to fit your definitions of the world. It is sad to see the US so fallen... That no one seeks to educate themselves independently. Instead they rely on paid entertainment hacks who claim to be reading the news or claim to be sources of wisdom. Bismallah al Rahman al Raheem may God have mercy on the United States. May the Children of Abram one day live in peace as brothers and sisters while the servants of the Enemy, those radical Christians, Zionists and Muslims be defeated.

    August 12, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  14. Acmed Shams

    Why can we not make this an interfaith cultural center? and
    We should be wary of overt islamophobia, but be careful to single out extremists, such as the Taliban.
    but why must this be done here, at ground zero?
    regarding extremism...
    You absolutely MUST see this:

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9aw6Cnw0hY&w=640&h=390]

    August 12, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
  15. Terry from West Texas

    Can Christian Churches build near the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, which was destroyed by Christian terrorists?
    Can the Catholics build a cathedral in New York near the site of the Twin Towers? Can the Jews build a synagogue there? Muslim Americans have the same rights that all other Americans have.

    August 12, 2010 at 4:13 pm |
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About this blog

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.