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August 2nd, 2010
06:27 PM ET

NY panel to vote on landmark status for ground zero mosque site

By Allan Chernoff, CNN Senior Correspondent

New York (CNN) - The building slated to house a proposed Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero leads Tuesday's agenda for a meeting of New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The 11 commissioners will vote whether to grant landmark status to 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 Ground Zero.

Watch the commission's vote now on CNN.com Live

While the public vote has been the focus of much debate about the planned Islamic center and mosque, the commission cannot prevent the developers from building such a community center. The commission, by designating the building a landmark, can only prevent Soho Properties from demolishing the building or significantly altering its exterior.

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

Cordoba opposes 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," tweeted Palin last month on her Twitter account.

The Anti-Defamation League, an organization that battles anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry, is asking for the Islamic center and mosque to be built further 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," said the organization in a statement.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission points out its decision has 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 a Burlington Coat Factory retailer, 45-47 Park Place was completed in 1858. The Landmarks Commission describes 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' • Islam • New York • Politics • United States

soundoff (702 Responses)
  1. Mrs. Tiger Woods

    Islamic Center Sucks! Bad Karma! Bad Idea. Figure out the area is sensitive to the Americans that died there, and your presence is not a good idea, no matter how noble your intentions may be.

    Don't build it there.

    August 3, 2010 at 8:11 am |
  2. genomecop

    International House Of Pancakes confirms its bought the building.

    August 3, 2010 at 8:10 am |
  3. wolff bachner

    one other little fact for all of you. there are about 4 million muslims in the united states. The largest group comes from asia not the middle east. They make up 1.5% of our population. Think about that for a minute. Time has come to stop catering to a tiny minority of our population that for the most part live in insular ghetto like enclaves of fellow muslims and makes little attempt to be absorbed into the American way of life. On 9/11 my business in the WTC was blown up and i lost everything. i wish i could get 1/100 of the attention that muslims get now in this contry when they demand that Americans accept every one of their customs based on their religion including walking around our streets in a burqua. Give me a break.

    August 3, 2010 at 8:09 am |
  4. Tharms

    The ADL by failing to offer the same defense of this organization as it would any other under bigoted attack reveals itself for exactly what it has always been: a cultural imperialist organization only willing to defend those cultures it believes it can capture.

    August 3, 2010 at 8:09 am |
  5. Richard McCarthy

    The Muslims' insensitivity is shown, not so much in wanting to build a mosque near ground-zero, but in having the nerve to ask if they could. Even raising the question is an insult!

    August 3, 2010 at 8:07 am |
  6. Joe

    Must be approved. Now Obama wants Muslims to have more rights than Americans. He proclaimed that America is "NO LONGER" a christian nation.

    August 3, 2010 at 8:05 am |
  7. bduce

    The fact that they can build does not mean they should and if they are looking to build bridges, this is not the way to accomplish it. If they were community minded and compassionate to the situation, they would reconsider and build at another location. This just proves their ideology to put their religion first above all else and further demonstrate their religious extremism. It would be one thing if this was the only location in NY available but it is not and they show a complete disregard for the people and the community if they go ahead with the building. they are setting themselves up for a lot harassment and property damage from many people.

    August 3, 2010 at 8:05 am |
  8. FrankLW

    After 9/11. the Imam of this Islamic center, Feisal Abdul Rauf, said “United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened”. In other words he is providing an understanding and rationale, if not a justification, for the mass murder at the WTC. It’s like he is saying “you killed my brother so I slaughtered your family” – gee, America is a democracy with a transparent court system, lobbying and public demonstrations, and there is such a thing as international courts if one has grievances with US policy.
    There can be NO rationale for such murder and any discussion of US policy CANNOT happen as the result of such barbarism, and it is detestable to raise criticism of US policy in this context – and if one does, he is abetting more such heinous acts. It is only relevant in the context of law enforcement to understand the psyche of the terrorists.

    August 3, 2010 at 8:05 am |
  9. truthfulster

    I can't believe people haven't seen the benefits that a new mosque and illegal aliens bring to America. The mosque gives the rejects and high explosive competent a place to play and have fun. Jesus didn't say a thing about ruining buildings and look at all the fun Islamics have in the middle east. Illegal aliens give our serial killers more fodder for practice and fine tuning their craft before they get caught and go to prison.

    August 3, 2010 at 8:00 am |
  10. James

    What is with this American culture? There is no real American culture. Mostly, everything we do is from some other culture. None of you, unless you're native American, are indigenous to this country. This country was not founded on religion so why would we need a common one? People came to this land to free themselves from religious persecution. So, why are we doing those same thing to others who are coming to escape religious persecution, genocide, and other horrible atrocities. Honestly, people that come to this country as immigrants seem to seize the opportunity better than the people born in America, which is sad. It is not a right to live in this country, but a privilege.

    There is nothing wrong with this be built and if you don't like it then maybe we should tear down the church and synagogue that are extremely close to ground zero. I mean, seriously, stop using 9/11 to justify everything we do in this country. Yes, I agree 9/11 was a terrible event, but peoples comments and actions are nothing short of another Spanish inquisition. Every religion has extremism and Christians have a history too. So, would it be far for me to judge all Christians on the crusades or the Catholics on the Spanish inquisition? No!

    August 3, 2010 at 7:53 am |
  11. James

    What is with this American culture? There is no real American culture. Mostly, everything we do is from some other culture. None of you, unless you're native American, are indigenous to this country. This country was not founded on religion so why would we need a common one? People came to this land to free themselves from religious persecution. So, why are we doing those same thing to others who are coming to escape religious persecution, genocide, and other horrible atrocities. Honestly, people that come to this country as immigrants seem to seize the opportunity better than the people born in America, which is sad. It is not a right to live in this country, but a privilege.

    There is nothing wrong with this be built and if you don't like it then maybe we should tear down the church and synagogue that are extremely close to ground zero. I mean, seriously, stop using 9/11 to justify everything we do in this country. Yes, I agree 9/11 was a terrible event, but peoples comments and actions are nothing short of another Spanish inquisition. Every religion has extremism and Christians have a history too. So, would it be far for me to judge all Christians on the crusades or the Catholics on the Spanish inquisition? No!

    August 3, 2010 at 7:52 am |
  12. Zainab

    I am an American Muslim working in Yemen - even Yemen has churches at Hindu temples and you mean to tell me the "land of the free" can't build a center that would benefit the entire community at large? Wow! You people are so hateful - why do you hate Islam so much?

    August 3, 2010 at 7:52 am |
  13. wolff bachner

    I would like to make a suggestion to all of the readers of these comments. There are many opinions and feelings being expressed here. They range from thoughtful to bigoted to angry to lies and falsehoods of all sorts. I would suggest that every American should take the time to study not only the religion of Islam but the history of islam as a political and governmental system. There is a wealth of accurate information available and we should all make use of it. You must understand that islam has been trying to spread itself over this planet since 632 ad and just yelling hatred at muslims will not stop it. You all must become informed and educated in their holy books and their history. Islam has thousands of scholars who dedicate their whole lives to studying islam in order to spread it to the world and screaming hate at them will not be enough to stop them. Anger, bigotry and racism plays right into their hands. So if you truly want to stop islam , take a deep breath then take the time to learn what you are fighting against. Knowledge and information is our ally, hatred and bigotry is our enemy and plays into the hands of islamic fanatics.

    August 3, 2010 at 7:49 am |
    • DangerMouse

      Sorry, let me take that back. I was mistaken.
      Your post is articulate and intelligent. I think I got you mixed up with someone else...
      :sorry:

      August 3, 2010 at 10:10 am |
  14. gordj

    As a Canadian who had 29 fellow countrymen and women killed in the Twin Towers , I've always seen 911 as an attack not just on America ,but against the whole world. The problem is that the attackers no matter that they were a minority ot not, carried out that evil act in the name of a religion. Commonsense tell's me that building a mosque at such a sensitive site is going to cause a lot of trouble and anger.

    August 3, 2010 at 7:41 am |
  15. Joe

    Quote from another poster: "That's like arguing that no Christian church should be build anywhere near downtown Oklahoma City. Why are people unable to separate the extreme actions of a few who follow the world's second largest religion?"

    You are completely incorrect. Timothy McVeigh didn't blow up the Murrah Building in the name of Jesus, he was an anti-gvernment person. He didn't do it for Christian purposes unlike your muslim buddies. And whoever thinks that the New York mayor is allowing the mosque so that Americans dislike muslims even more, last time I recall, the muslims didn't have to build there. They aren't being forced to.

    August 3, 2010 at 7:41 am |
  16. smc

    Apparently the majority in Manhattan support this. But good old folks like Sarah Palin want to butt their noses into it. How's that limited government working out for you ... WINK.

    August 3, 2010 at 7:40 am |
    • Joe

      Apparently you need to show everybody where you are getting your shady facts from. Is there an un-biased poll you would like to point everyone towards? This isn't a republican/democrat argument it's a right or wrong argument. Those libs who are demented like yourself need to re-evaluate their thought process.

      August 3, 2010 at 7:47 am |
  17. Wendy

    Insanity! If you live in NY, put feet on the ground and go to ground zero, in the thousands, to protest publically! The commissioners WILL listen to a public outcry. Organize and DON'T let this happen in our country. We MUST stand up and take back control. With social media, post on fb, twitter, anywhere but get 1000's out there to show solidarity with those that lost their loved ones!

    August 3, 2010 at 7:39 am |
  18. FrankLW

    It sure does sound like Islam is building a victory monument in NYC.
    After destroying enemy landmarks, Islam builds its own at those sites. Islam did this in Mecca and Medina and built the Dome of the Rock and its Al Aqsa mosque precisely on the site of the Jews' holy temple in Jerusalem.

    The Imam of this center, Feisal Abdul Rauf, sounds like a typical Muslim fundamentalist who will not condemn the Hamas or Al Qaeda terror groups that deliberately target civilians and celebrate it when they kill them (he likely restrains himself from publicly praising them).

    It is consistent with that for them to want to open the mosque on 9/11.

    Fundamentalist Muslims also have a special lexicon used to mislead Westerners – like being opposed to the killing of "innocents", where they actually mean innocent Muslims; or they say they are opposed to "oppression", meaning they are opposed to the oppression of Jihadist Muslims who want to forcefully convert the world to Muslim theocracy.

    Fundamentalist Islam is at war with the West and its values of intellectual and civil freedom and democracy – and it actually takes advantage of those liberties to advance its Jihad "holy war" by using tax breaks for religions to erect edifices or get subsidies for large Muslim families that are used to sway Western democracies, and, yes, suing for the right even to build a fundamentalist mosque at Ground Zero. If we take any longer to realize that this IS a war that we must fight, it may become too late.

    August 3, 2010 at 7:35 am |
  19. wolff bachner

    Free speech and all the other protections of our constitution were meant for the loyal citizens of the United States and their honorable foreign guests. They are not intended to be a license to subvert and undermine the laws and rights of American Citizens. When any religion, in this case islam, espouses ideas that are in direct conflict with the Constitution and openly work to impose an alien political/ religious system called sharia on the United States, at some point the right to claim constitutional protection is lost. If not legally, certainly ethically and morally. I personally would be as offended by the forced Christianity of the medieval catholic church as i am by islam and its desire to be the only religion of all mankind. It has nothing to do with being a bigot or a racist. It has to do with the fact that from everything i have read and studied in my 59 years and with graduate degrees and much life experience,.i honestly believe the evidence shows me that islam is not something i will support as an American citizen. It is totally alien to everything our country stands for. The oppression and violence directed by islam at other religions is legendary. You cant even bring a bible ior a crcifix into Saudi Arabia and that is taken from the information provided to all travelers from their embassy and by the airlines. You cant build a church in most of the muslim countries. the existing churches are attacked and burned with regularity. As a jew i am not allowed to enter any muslim nation simply because of my religion. WHY THE H3LL should we be required to give these tyrants all the benefits of our constitution when they have proven over and over again they dont really believe in it.

    August 3, 2010 at 7:28 am |
  20. pio

    has anyone wonder if obama has invested on that mosque.

    August 3, 2010 at 7:26 am |
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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.