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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. mike

    antidefamation league just spoke out and targeted a people;s religion was that not defamation

    August 2, 2010 at 8:27 pm |
  2. mike

    maybe they meantto say mormon religion's founder

    August 2, 2010 at 8:23 pm |
  3. wow

    everytime they quote Sarah Palin I want to puke. Please stop quoting the most popular idiot in the Nation. She is NOT an examplary role model.

    August 2, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
  4. PhxResident

    I feel sad for the ignorance of so many people in this country that mix between terrorism, Islam, Ben Laden.
    Wake up America! Islam as religion is not your enemy. Any one that thinks otherwise is brainwashed and ignorant.
    9/11 terrorist attack is unislamic and if you want to punish every religion for what a bad guy belonging to that religion has done, you need to ban Hitlers religion from all Europe; you need to ban McVeys denomination from existing in Oklahoma as a sign of respect to his victims, and ... Where do you draw the lime?
    Wake up and put your religious feelings about Islam aside and don't make them a basis for decisions like these.
    Even without 9/11, the same people that don't want the Mosque there would have had the same opinion.
    It is hatred, bigotry, and close mindedness.
    9/11 is just the cover, and not the real reason why these people don't want to see a mosque there.

    August 2, 2010 at 8:20 pm |
    • Curt

      News Flash. We are at war with Muslim Extremists. If they had not crashed the planes, there would be no debate. Maybe you should reflect on this fact and stop calling everyone who does not agree with you a bigot. Some real bad stuff occurred, and people don't need this thrown in their face right now. Connect the dots.

      August 2, 2010 at 8:32 pm |
    • Maxell

      You may be a citizen but your really not an American, Real Americans don't talk like you do, I'm an American and after reading your remarks I think to myself >> This guy don't belong in America, please get a 1 way ticket out of here

      August 2, 2010 at 8:36 pm |
    • peaceful pagan

      I draw the lime around the margarita glass. It helps the salt cling more effectively.

      August 3, 2010 at 2:41 am |
  5. mike

    what the heck is mormonism

    August 2, 2010 at 8:19 pm |
    • nick2

      The Salt Lake City Choir singing 'Abide with Me'.

      August 2, 2010 at 9:35 pm |
  6. PhxResident

    I just put a message that was removed by cnn.
    Where is the freedom of speech?
    CNN is open for only 1 side and have no room for supporters of the project.
    Don't claim that you are impartial or unbiased.

    August 2, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
    • wow

      tis likely your comment was removed because it was hateful or bigoted not because cnn is biased.

      August 2, 2010 at 8:24 pm |
    • nick2

      If you use any cuss words, the email checker will throw your message away automatically.

      August 2, 2010 at 9:34 pm |
  7. Ichi

    ULTIMATELY this comes down to freedom of speech and religion, and so the Islamic faith is protected under the Constitution. If this mosque vows to preach love and unity, teach and educate, then I say they can go for it.

    August 2, 2010 at 8:16 pm |
    • missadr

      Can and should are two different things.

      August 3, 2010 at 12:15 am |
  8. David

    Is it too late to build a USAF museum in the middle of Hiroshima? How about a monument to Arthur 'Bomber' Harris in Dresden? All in the name of healing of course.

    August 2, 2010 at 8:15 pm |
    • Curt

      I think we have a winner. Exactly !!

      August 2, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
    • er

      @David, 2nd vote for winner!

      August 2, 2010 at 11:50 pm |
  9. Maxell

    Just say No Way you can't build it it's that simple, This is our country and we make the rules

    August 2, 2010 at 8:13 pm |
    • mike

      you would think so huh

      August 2, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
    • nick2

      I understand that it is being built by Americans – who happen to be Muslims. Does that complicate things, or do you really want to change the Constitution where it proclaims Equal rights for all citizens under the law.

      August 2, 2010 at 9:38 pm |
    • er

      @Nick2- if they are Americans, why are they putting Islam before their country?

      August 2, 2010 at 11:50 pm |
    • missadr

      No decent American of any faith would dare to put a mosque anywhere near that site. An American Muslim should be ashamed to build a mosque there. It's wrong. And they know it's wrong.

      August 3, 2010 at 12:14 am |
  10. Avinash Bajaj

    Let us think what we are going to read in history book. Some may interpret Mosque as a result of 911. A National Monument where every citizen feels pride should be built which should be taller than the earlier building.

    August 2, 2010 at 8:13 pm |
  11. UTJoey

    I couldn't have said it better. Its a slap in the face and the builders know it.

    August 2, 2010 at 8:10 pm |
    • Emma the Grey

      What on earth are you talking about? A swimming pool and a theater are slaps in the face to whom? Because that area should be reserved for the strip clubs that are there?

      August 3, 2010 at 1:02 am |
  12. deuce

    They way I look at it, we should just let them go ahead and build the Mosque there. Why? Because if the people behind this are trying to rile us up by doing it, they win every time someone screams about how disgraceful it is, or how its a slap in the face of all the American's that died there, etc. I sympathize, but like my grandmother told me: kill them with kindness. If nobody gives a crap, then the reaction they're trying to get over it goes out the window.

    Secondly, I say let them build it because we ALL know that it is going to be a hate magnet for miles around. How many times are the windows gonna be busted out? How many times is are they gonna have to pay to get the walls and sidewalk cleaned? How often are they going to have to listen to people picket and shout crap at them while they are trying to worship? How often are they going to have to call the police to handle these or any number of other things?

    And before someone says "all those city resources will be wasted responding to that stuff!", I thought of that, too. Eventually, either the police will start charging them for having to maintain a presence there everyday, or more likely, they will have to pay a security company 24/7 to be on premises to prevent it. And they'll never be able to prevent it.

    Before I get called racist or bigoted, let me say that I have no problem with Islam or it's non fundamentalist followers. I feel the same way about ALL religion (I'm an atheist). However, just like you don't hold KKK rallies in Harlem, you don't build a Mosque at ground Zero and expect it NOT to be a target. Even if it's wrong, it's GOING to happen.

    August 2, 2010 at 8:04 pm |
    • Curt

      deuce: You make a good point and are totally correct. If it's built, it will be a cluster F. We are humans, and have the ability to think. Why deal with it after the fact. Why give them more publicity. Just say No. In fact, say NO to any church or group that wants to build a place to worship anywhere near ground zero.

      August 2, 2010 at 8:14 pm |
  13. Curt

    Now is not the right time to build such a thing. It's a slap in the face to every American, and a WIN for Muslim Fanatics. I can't wait to read the headlines about how some future terrorists visited the mosque just before they killed 3000 more people. This is a bad idea. Wait 30 years and reconsider.

    August 2, 2010 at 7:59 pm |
  14. Unapologetic American

    @Amanda and Robin Bray

    Have either of you ever left the US? Visited other countries(not for vacation) and see how it really is elsewhere? Talked to people of other faith? Islam is not as peaceful as you make it out to be, even moderate muslims admit it is very harsh. Yes christianity has been the cause of much destruction and infamy in the PAST but as a whole it has reformed and no longer condones such crimes. Islam on the other hand seems to revel in their crimes(religious justice) in the past and now. No I am not religious, if it were up to me I banish all religion from the world since religion(and the perversion of) causes all our problems and I seriously doubt some magical being(God, Allah, Cthulhu, whatever) is in charge.

    August 2, 2010 at 7:58 pm |
    • Amanda

      I never said Islam was peaceful. In fact, an entire religion can never be deemed "peaceful" or "violent". Why? Because it's made up of PEOPLE. Just like in any group of people, there will be good and bad. Stereotyping an entire religion based on the actions of extremists is no better than racism and it's disgusting! I know Muslim people who are much more peaceful than half the Christians I know. I don't know about Robin, but that's the point I'm trying to make. I never said that the Muslim haters were absolutely wrong – just that they COULD be. At least I have enough respect to admit that I don't know anything about the religion itself because I've never read the Koran. I'm simply pointing out that it is wrong to jugde ALL Muslims that way.

      August 2, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
    • Amanda

      BTW – I totally agree that all relgion stinks. It does nothing but breed hatred from what I can see. Uh oh.............here come the Christians to burn me at the stake!

      August 2, 2010 at 8:24 pm |
  15. LeeVT

    We all know that people of all the major religions were killed in the 911 attack. But its was only Muslims who committed the act, and they did it in the name of Islam. Pretending that this isn't true is political correctness run amok.

    In this great country we cannot stop them from building this center on the basis of religion. But I would ask them, in the interest of better relations, not to build this anywhere near ground-zero. We as Americans are always being asked to show sensitivity to other religions and cultures. Let the organizers show some sensitivity on this matter.

    While I hate to agree with anything Sarah Palin says, I must agree with her on this point.

    August 2, 2010 at 7:56 pm |
  16. Miner

    When you build Mosques or anything that gathers 50 muslims in 1 place, what you think the outcome will be, they will bring some Sheikh that will start brain washing ppl. and they will start planning terrorist attacks right here in NEW YORK,
    Mosques in NEW YORK, then what, after 10 years they will ban women wearing skirts walking through that street, i hope they make a strip club right next door

    August 2, 2010 at 7:53 pm |
    • David Dreibelbis

      This is an incredibly unrealistic and bigoted statement, what are you basing it on? Can you provide any evidence that the majority of American Muslims promote the ideals you mentioned?

      August 2, 2010 at 7:56 pm |
    • Miner

      Its a simple truth and fact

      August 2, 2010 at 8:01 pm |
    • 4thofJulybaby

      They will educate their youth at our finest institutions, get them elected and positions of power, enfource sharia law (it's already being done) - they is how you get conquered quietly by the muslim world. Study the Turks, they were masters at assimilating into ones culture to control.

      August 2, 2010 at 11:37 pm |
  17. Doba

    I don't really see the problem with building a mosque / cultural center a few blocks from Ground Zero, because a) its a free country, no laws are being broken, b) the Imam building the center is pro-American, anti-extremist (look up his book "What's Right with Islam is What's Right with America") and c) the 9/11 hijackers don't represent Islam (just like the Grand Inquisitor doesn't represent Christianity) so building a mosque has very little to do with them.

    August 2, 2010 at 7:53 pm |
    • er

      Except this Inman has no care for the families of 9/11 victims who ask him not to, so how great a man is he?

      August 2, 2010 at 11:36 pm |
  18. Ray

    What sort of message are we sending the world if we build a muslim community center near the former site of a building destroyed by islamic fundamentalists? Don't people think that other fundamentalists groups might start viewing this community center as a symbol of islamic expansion into the west and that because Americans are so worried about being seen as religiously and ethnically intolerant we will never block such development from taking place. Perhaps blowing up an American building and building a muslim center in it's place is the quickest way to spread islam in this country. If so, we suck!

    August 2, 2010 at 7:52 pm |
    • Mike

      Or...what will the world think when we, as Americans, support a religious group who had NOTHING to do with the people who committed this heinous act? Maybe, for once, instead of being a bunch of hate-filled angry folks, we can be seen as the good guys? Wouldn't that be something...

      August 2, 2010 at 9:55 pm |
  19. PalinEnvy

    Speaking from experience of course MrMailman...

    August 2, 2010 at 7:50 pm |
  20. Dennis F

    They can build the mosque at 'ground zero' as as we can build a Christian Church in Mecca, right next to the Masjid al-Haram.

    August 2, 2010 at 7:49 pm |
    • Brett

      You suggest that the WTC was our Masjid al-Haram and that Manhattan or NYC is our Mecca. Neither is true. At least not for me.

      August 2, 2010 at 7:56 pm |
    • nonreligousamerican

      @proudmuslim
      it actually a house of hatred...i hope someone flys a plane into it then maybe you can have a foot to stand on.

      August 3, 2010 at 9:43 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.