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. elvisg

    They should instead buid a museum with exhibits that show how most religions throughout history have brought out the worst in mankind and suffocated progress i.e. suicide bombings, stonings, witch burnings, imprisonment of scientists, caste systems, polygamy, crusades, wars, suppression of ideas and knowledge, etc.

    August 2, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
    • BMaryland

      good idea, Elvis

      August 2, 2010 at 10:31 pm |
  2. Dustin

    @Paul If this is in fact a "Christian country", which I dispute, have you and the other Christians forgotten your own beliefs? Modern Christianity would disgust Jesus if you believe the Bible is correct. The WTC attacks were not a religious attack...they were a perversion of a perfectly peaceful religion. The same type of perversion that is embraced by the KKK, the Crusaders and the Westboro Baptist Church. I hate that my service in the military protects those who hate based on uneducated assumptions, but I guess that's the price of freedom...allowing Americans who are bad as the few Islamic extremists their right to stupidity.

    August 2, 2010 at 10:12 pm |
  3. Mainehunter

    More US Citizens/New Yorkers will die by users of this mosque. Terrorists will congregate there. Muslims will marvel at the stupidity of US political leaders. If these Muslim imams and clerics were so inclined, they could put a stop to the massacres and murders of US Citizens. Instead, they conveniently look the other way.

    August 2, 2010 at 10:08 pm |
  4. Theresa

    The 9/11 attacks were no more an attack by the whole of Islam than the OKC bombing were an attack by the whole of Christianity. I feel for the people still traumatized by this event, but it's a community center with a prayer space, not exclusively a place of worship. Muslims have been saying daily prayers in this area for a long time, no one made a big deal about it. One of the fundamental founding principles of the United States is the freedom of religion. Tolerance and understanding will serve us all better than hate. And I am a Christian who was in the OKC area and heard the bomb go off. I don't hate all right-wing Christians because of it. I understand that McVeigh was an extremist, and one should not judge all Christians, or even all people who are anti-government, because of his actions. Let the community center have its prayer space– we as a people become better Americans by rising above hate.

    August 2, 2010 at 10:07 pm |
    • 4thofJulybaby

      TOLERANCE – again? Who is pouring this kool-aid party line? Is it part of Cordoba's talking points?

      What happened to COMPASSION and saying, okay we understand the pain. We choose to build further away? No such luck!

      August 2, 2010 at 11:08 pm |
  5. stan t

    "How stupid is our leaders and our system?"
    how stupid IS our leaders?
    oy vey
    reminds me of that picture of some hick at a protest with a sign saying "get a brain, morans"...

    August 2, 2010 at 10:07 pm |
  6. Steve

    Robin Aylik Yabuti Mockmenislam Hamaneatajad Bray. Since this appears to be our outstanding muslim representative on the board I'm personally finding the email addresses of every one of those board member and begging them not to do this.
    Congrats Robin, You CAN make a difference.

    August 2, 2010 at 10:02 pm |
  7. American

    Let's try to build a Catholic church in Mecca and see what the response is.

    August 2, 2010 at 9:59 pm |
    • er

      Oh but wait, we're American, we're supposed to be so more enlightened than those Saudis.
      Enlighten ourselves all the way to annihilation of what our forefathers fought for!

      August 2, 2010 at 10:53 pm |
  8. Katherine

    Buildidng a mosque near Ground Zero is a slap in the face, a triumph for our enemies and mosques do house many of our enemies – we are fools to let our own goodness keep us from defending our own honor. Put Obama in charge of denying them their mosque – he'll just create in the dead of night another piece of back-room deals - oops!! Forgot he's a Muslim sympathizer, guess we can't depend on his "transparency" We have become helpless frightened weaklings and for that we deserve this mockery.

    August 2, 2010 at 9:58 pm |
    • kevin

      You do understand that you are a bigot right? First of all this is not to be a mosque but a muslim cultural center. Second of all our "enemies" are not muslims but terrorists. You appear as a bigot because you equate muslims with terrorists. I hope you are not a bigot as you seem to be from your comment.

      On to another point...I believe the whole "terrorist threat" is exaggerated and is a great tool for our government to use to frighten us. It gives our government A LOT more power to do what they want and to infringe on our rights and the rights of others.

      August 2, 2010 at 10:50 pm |
  9. beanbag

    In school they told us that we imprisoned Japanese Americans in World War II whether or not they were guilty. But now we know better, we don't hate like that anymore, we fought for civil rights. All better. I guess my school was lying to me.

    August 2, 2010 at 9:51 pm |
  10. BMaryland

    This one is a tough one. On the one hand, this is a free country that is made up of people of many faiths/beliefs and those who are atheists. Great. That is who we are as a free society. I don't want to change that. The trouble is that there are people, not one or two like the Timothy McVays of the world, that want to kill us.....and not just a few! Part of me wants to outlaw Islam in our country, and not let anyone in from those countries.....and I know that isn't right. But it is hard to take all that is dished out and not end up hating that religion. Logically I know they aren't all like that, of course. The answer is illusive to me, mixed up with fear and anger.

    August 2, 2010 at 9:48 pm |
  11. Paul

    I keep hearing how the mosque near the WTC and the crosses at OKC are similar..... HOW?!?! the attack on OKC was not religious based the WTC among other things was religious based. As far as i'm concered, and you can call me a bigot or whatever, but this country does have freedom of religion but this country was also founded by CHRISTIAN men and women. Putting a mosque that close will just cause more problems than it will solve.

    August 2, 2010 at 9:47 pm |
  12. rick

    The friend of my enemy is my enemy. If you'd like to know why some of us are just little annoyed at this concept it's becuase it's not exactly a secret that there are a number of Muslim leaders who very publicly don't like the U.S. Has there been any substantial assitance from the Muslim community to even get them to shut up? Seriously? Even get them to shut up? I'm not going to ask that you actually stop them, but all I ever hear is 'not all Muslims are like that'. I'll give you that. But it sure seems like the vast majority of Muslims are willing to do nothing while the extremists plot, plan, and speak out against the U.S. Apparently, ALMOST all Mulslims are like THAT. While we're no bed of roses (be it political or religious), at least if you catch us killling someone and expose it, we hunt them down and make them pay. If you catch us saying 'kill all the ______', they're generally made to be outcasts. So, forgive me if I'm not that sympathetic to all of the Muslims who "aren't like that", because the rest generally seem to be "like THAT".

    August 2, 2010 at 9:47 pm |
    • BMaryland

      I know just what you mean, Rick.

      August 2, 2010 at 9:56 pm |
    • GroundZeroForMemorial

      I agree with what you say but it is only messed up leaders who force themselves in spotlight or do crazy horible stuff who are "like that" MOST are not. Just go to a local mosque they will embrace you. Trust me I know.

      August 2, 2010 at 10:12 pm |
  13. George

    We are at war, and the people we are at war with will be congregating in that mosque or any mosque anywhere. I doubt you could find a mosque anywhere in the world where there aren't a number of the group who either support killing Americans, or are plotting same, or doing same each and every day.

    August 2, 2010 at 9:43 pm |
    • Theresa

      We are not at war with Muslims or with Islam. We are at war with Al-Qaeda. We are/were at war with the Taliban. We were at war with Saddam Hussein's government.

      August 2, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
    • Curt

      Theresa, and all of them were Muslims. Are you starting to see a trend.

      August 2, 2010 at 11:39 pm |
  14. drscott

    Boycott New York !!!!!!

    August 2, 2010 at 9:42 pm |
    • George

      This is America pal, not Afghanistan. There is no way real Americans will every boycott New York, and you are a traitor for suggesting it.

      August 2, 2010 at 9:45 pm |
  15. Greg

    Couple points. Freedom of Religion. Secondly, the media (yes CNN too) is at fault here. It's neither a Mosque nor on Ground Zero. It's a cultural center two blocks away from Ground Zero and it's view is obstructed by buildings. This is just another example of the racism and bigotry that has become more open and commonplace in this country since Obama became President and the Tea Party tool of their white hoods. This country has regressed to a point that too recognize it we have to back to the 50's and 60's. I thought we matured as a country. I thought wrong. The culture of fear that was created by Bush/Cheney has taken over.

    August 2, 2010 at 9:40 pm |
    • 4thofJulybaby

      whaaaah! Give me a break. The Cordoba group could and should be the ones to show COMPASSION to the pain that still exists no matter how misguided anyone may think it to be. What is the harm of them saying, you know what, we want to keep the peace, we no longer insist on upsetting a lot of folks, so we will seek a new location? Why is that so difficult?

      August 2, 2010 at 11:12 pm |
  16. Sal

    never thought so many people would agree with sarah palin.

    August 2, 2010 at 9:40 pm |
  17. drscott


    August 2, 2010 at 9:40 pm |
  18. ha!

    that comment is a winner

    August 2, 2010 at 9:40 pm |
  19. George

    Please, all of you who speak out against the mosque at ground zero, remember who and what you are. You are infidels.

    August 2, 2010 at 9:39 pm |
  20. Tamashi Shinto

    Mosque to be opened exactly 10 years after 9/11.
    To be named after Cordoba-the place conqured by islamic moors in europe
    To be built vry close to 9/11
    Mosques have always been built over conquered lands (Pls this is not fiction, see for yourselvs, from Turkey to India to Indonesia)

    Are people so blind to the symobolism of this?

    August 2, 2010 at 9:39 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.