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. Xasthur

    The people against this are the same people who don't like New York anyway. They think there are too many kinds of people there.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:39 am |
  2. Wolfie

    The levels of ignorance following this article are ASTOUNDING- in terms of classical Islamic law, the Quran, and the ideals of the Founding Fathers. Not only is the killing of women, children, and non-combatants forbidden by the Quran and classical Islamic law, but Al-Quaeda is a cult loosely based on Islam; they reject Islamic law and have been condemned by virtually ALL Muslim authorities. Furthermore, even if they WERE backed by a collective authority, denying them property and worship rights goes against everything the Founding Fathers looked for in this country. Freedom of religion literally meant freedom of religion; the Anglican Church was not purged, nor was anyone prevented from founding any Anglican churches anywhere even though the British custom at the time was to erect Anglican churches in their colonies and conquered territories.

    It's unbelievable how many people consider this a religious war and what kinds of disinformation I'm seeing here.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:39 am |
  3. Randy

    I can just see another Timothy McViegh bombing happening here I say let them build someone will pay them back.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:39 am |
  4. cybersport

    Freedom of religion means ALL religions.. Why do so many think religios freedom applies only to White Christians?

    And I'm a white male Christian

    August 3, 2010 at 11:39 am |
  5. Jason

    This is a great day for America. Regardless of race, religion, social status, everyone will be treated equally. Thats our country and I am pretty damn proud of it. Tea party idiots who think this country somehow only belongs to the ango-saxon race please get lost! You are a disgrace to all americans.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:38 am |
  6. beatlanta.com

    The mosque will be burnt to the ground by someone I'm sure. So all who want it there – you got your wishes....all who don't – you'll get yours too.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:38 am |
  7. noreligiontoo

    All of the Abrahamic faiths are based on stories written by people and built on over and over again for centuries. They are myths with little basis in reality. If Mohammad is branded a pedophile, then what are your thoughts on the immaculate conception occurring when Mary was 14? This country is based on freedom, not a religion. People and societies change and evolve. Islam is going through a change right now. Think of how backwards Christianity was 150 years ago here in the US when they were dunking innocent women in Salem and burning them as witches. Religion is easily abused. The thing that makes this country so great is that we have the freedom to choose.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:37 am |
  8. renobill

    This is wonderful. A victory for all who REALLY believe in equality, and brotherhood.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:37 am |
  9. Mike Lanni

    So what about the Christian communities the the middle east? Do we just stop them from living because those countries got attacked by the west?

    August 3, 2010 at 11:37 am |
  10. Vijay Kumar

    If they Claim that Islam is a peaceful relegion and moslems are peaceful people, they should not have even this proposal to built it right next to the historic wound to our society.

    But they are moslems, only know to kill, spread hatred and violence and destabelizing the NYC peace

    August 3, 2010 at 11:36 am |
    • Jason

      Vijay, please go back to worshiping monkeys. ganesh would not approve your comment.

      August 3, 2010 at 11:43 am |
    • LearnToRead

      Or how about an upgrade from the monkey....an eight-armed ceramic doll! Or how about a cow? Yes...let's collect the cow urine because it's so holy.

      August 3, 2010 at 12:47 pm |
    • Mohammed

      Vijay, my ancestors were Hindus and they switched to Islam because living as Hindus became too difficult. If you put Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Judaism under the microscope, I am confident than Islam will turn out to be the most tolerant religion of all. The only difference is that all religion EXCEPT Islam are watered down and Islam being the youngest of all is still used as the 'way of life' by many Muslims and that keeps the Muslims backwards in this day and age. Because most Muslims are behind in this worldly race, others have taken advantages and deprived them of their resources, freedom and dignity. With this new 'information age', some Muslims see the 'injustice' committed against them and they want to fight back. In order to fight enemies thousand times stronger, they need virtual support and the 'faith' provides that. I would personally never ever hurt anyone even if someone hurts me or my family, but I can say that easily as no one in my family has been hurt. To propagate that Islam teaches violence and the terrorists kill because they are jealous of our freedom and considers everyone else 'Infidel' is a lame attempt to hide the atrocities committed against innocent Muslims. If you want peace, don't rely on lame propaganda, just work for justice. This world is going in the wrong direction and if we don't resolve our differences or control our greed, everyone will be the losers. No one will gain!!!

      August 3, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
  11. Rob

    Who cares? It's not like we ban Halal carts and other food vendors from "ground zero".

    August 3, 2010 at 11:36 am |
  12. LANA


    August 3, 2010 at 11:36 am |
    • Jason

      why do you act like every Muslim is responsible for 911? thats like saying every american belongs to KKK.

      August 3, 2010 at 11:42 am |
  13. Centares

    Why in the world is this allowed to go on? Might as well plant a flag with the crescent moon in ground zero.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:36 am |
    • Acaraho

      Like when the US Government planted their flag on Indian land?

      August 3, 2010 at 7:05 pm |
  14. Malcom

    Wow, i didn't think people could be so...absurd .No wonder everyone hates Americans. Glad I live north of the border. For people to have such a different mindset when we live so close is amazing. You people need to check yourselves. I think building a mosque on ground zero is a bad idea BUT to call NY a Mecca is delusional. There is nothing that can be done. Islam is the 2nd biggest religion outside of Christianity and is barely behind. I wonder how many of you speak like this when you do have conversations with Muslims. You make me SICK to call myself American.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:36 am |
  15. See Novak

    This is what happens when a good idea (tolerance) is pushed too far, as liberals often do. That POS mayor is a real guilty white; he initially stated that the failed Times Square bomber was some disgruntled white guy and nearly screwed up the investigation.
    And yoiu undereducated people should google "Cordoba" (Hint: it happened 300 years before the Crusades).

    August 3, 2010 at 11:35 am |
  16. Arby J

    This strange alliance between the lunatic Right Wing and the Jewish community is anti-American and unholy. It is driven by nothing more than hate for someone else's concept of God.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:35 am |
  17. Namedontmatter

    Muslims have the full right to build a mosque near the ground zero, if not, what is anyone trying to imply about muslims. THE MUSLIM Community shall and should build a mosque

    August 3, 2010 at 11:35 am |
  18. J. Kirdar

    Again, religious differences takes the center stage and is the premise for controversy, confusion, chaos, and just plain hatred among human beings. First and foremost, regardless of what one label's their God to be based on religious affiliation, the fact remains that there can only be one (1) God...end of story (if you believe as such of course). So whatever the hardliner Christian, Muslim, or Jew espouses or advocates that they are followers of the one true religion is, at the end of the day, nothing but ignorant themselves. We pray to someone, but when it's all said and done, it's really all the same, it's just a different name/label. It's foolish to believe that there is many Gods serving their respective followers...ahhh religion, is it man made after all????

    For all the ignorant, I doubt Jesus or the word God itself is pronounced the English way. So compartmentalizing the meaning of Allah and God is absurd, it is the same if you follow the logic that there is only one deity. Too much of anything (excess) is bad for you.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:34 am |
  19. Cedar Rapids

    'They should be able to build a mosque here, especially 2 blocks from Ground Zero, when WE are allowed to build a Synague in Mecca!!!!'
    They should ban catholic churches until WE are allowed to build a synagogue in vatican city.

    'Mosques have historically be built on site of those whom they conquer'
    Every religion builds its house of worship on areas it conquers, including christianity, this is a pointless argument.

    'liberalism at its finest'
    Yep, how dare they respect the consitution, and freedom of religion. Darn liberals, don't they know they are supposed to ignore the constitution when they don't like the result. grrrr.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:34 am |
  20. MichaelR

    Enough with the PC crap. The mosque at ground zero is nothing but a slap in the face. New York is a huge city. Build the mosque if you must, but not on the ashes of the dead. The U.S. needs to wake up and realize that this war is unlike any other. How did a rag-tag bunch of revolutionaries defeat the British? Because they refused to stand in straight lines and take turns shooting at one another. They refused to fight a "gentleman's" war. The US is fighting like the British and the terrorist are fighting like, well terrorists. We will loose this war because of our political correctness. Enough already. The solution is simple and takes only two actions. First, the US gets out of all Muslim countries. Let them kill each other all they want and live in their lovely Halifats. Secondly, if you are Muslim and in a non-Muslim country more power to you. However, if that is the case you must live by the rules of that country. Muslims can not go to France, Britain the US or any other country and decide that country must now live under Muslim laws. If you want to live in a Muslim country then please leave a go do so. No one is stopping you and we would all breath a sigh of relief if you were gone. If you want to stay here, then welcome, but this country is great because those that come here have learned to assimilate. Get with the program or go home. Additionally, enough with the "Islam is about peace." I hear the words all the time, but I don't see any of the "peaceful" Muslims up in arms and doing something about the murders that claim their religion. Reign in your own people. Get control over your religion. You claim that you disagree with the violence, but do nothing when it happens.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:34 am |
    • Robert

      AMERICANS are building this mosque and cultural center. They are not your enemies.

      August 3, 2010 at 11:45 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.