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. Nick2

    A breath of commonsense goes a long way in deflating the pomposity and prepostorous agenda of those who would equate Islam with terrorism. Ignorance is not cool – it is downright stupid.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
  2. Omar

    As a muslim living in the NYC 20 years, I never hurt anyone. I like all muslims and non muslim. I have more non muslim friends than non muslim. I do not know why some people create hatred among muslims and non muslims. Imagine these people mabye created hatred among their own family as well because they have some kind of virus. We have to find the cure for this virus and shut their mouth for hating muslims. As muslims, I respect all religous group. We have bad guys among all the religous group. If a bad muslim commits a crime, we should not hate other muslims. We have too many mosque in NYC, building other one is not a crime. Mosque is place for praying for God, one god who created everyone of us. Where is our parents and grand parents, all passed away. One day we also die and face God. This life is short, we must remove this hatred among our self and respect each other no matter what is our reliogus belif.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
    • illuminated Genius

      You really expect people to believe those lies Omar? Drop the act we all know Islam is evil and this evil monument is proof of it. There is no doubt now Islam must be destroyed and i disqualify it as a religion given so many horrible things have been done on its name. You should listen to ex-muslims view and why millions of people are now starting to leave Islam. You should check faithfreedom on the internet and do yourself a favor and don't protect this satanic death cult. You can say you respect religion, but on the laws of the Qu'ran it is the opposite. You are a hypocrite or a massive liar. This is why the Atheists are right. People like Geert Wilders are right, Pat Condel, Wafa Sultan,Salman Rushdie who wrote the Satanic verses you remember him don't you? Orriana Fallaci. I have seen intolerance, hate, destruction, acts of misogynistic treatments of women, Islamic Jihad, arrogance among muslims, promotion of murder to infidels all made in the name of Allah, suicide bombings, honor killings, the bombings in Madrid, Bali, New York and the 10,000 terrorist attacks in the last ten years alone and the 270 million people murdered since the 7th century because of Islam. Islam is the enemy of humanity, radical Islam is the real Islam and it has to go extinct like the dinosaurs did. Islam will be the first dead religion it is only a matter of time before people learn the real truth. Osama Bin Laden, Taliban, Al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah don't get their ideas out of nowhere they get it from the Qu'ran.

      August 3, 2010 at 9:40 pm |
  3. Admin

    Islam will die when Jesus returns

    August 3, 2010 at 12:07 pm |
  4. DrDoom

    Somewhere in America, a fed-up citizen is taking flying lessons.
    Heads up camel humpers.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:07 pm |
  5. Brett

    Why should we try to micromanage peaceful Muslims? Let the Arab world see that Americans can distinguish between violent extremists and mainstream Muslims. Stop bickering about one peaceful building. It's pathetic that Americans can't hold two places is their heads–one for wackos, and one for gentle religious types.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:07 pm |
  6. Allahoxinfree

    This is a crafty form of entrapment to generate evidence of anti-Islamic sentiment in the US. The advocates and financial sources behind this construction project are likely the same “activists” seeking media attention by sending “aid convoys” into armed blockades. Slapping New Yorkers in the face by building this structure is only the first step. This building is sure to be vandalized upon completion, and when it is, the action will generate international media attention, finely twisted, to portray New York as anti-Islamic.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:07 pm |
  7. John

    Bull, its not a mile away. Look at Google maps and you will see that it is less than half a mile away.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:07 pm |
  8. Zachary

    If we didn't allow them to build a mosque here then we would be guilty of the crimes we are accused of by our enemies.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:07 pm |
  9. Jerry

    I for one am glad they are allowing the mosque to be built. We live in America. To Deny them a mosque is to deny them the freedoms that we enjoy. Those who are against this are ignorant and hypocrites.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:06 pm |
  10. ohhiya

    I hear in keeping with the spirit of change Baghdad officials have given the Catholic Church the green light to turn saddams old palace into holy ground also.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:06 pm |
  11. clr

    NY commissioners and the building trade have always been able to stop what they want to stop, and have go forward what they want to push forward. I wonder how much money changed hands on this behind the scenes. BTW -The best swamp drainer – the ballot box... lord knows our politiicans will never police themselves.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:05 pm |
    • spado

      I was thinking the same thing.

      August 3, 2010 at 4:04 pm |
  12. Earl

    Muslim love to inflict pain on non-muslims thinking that is the right way. So it's better to not to recognize Islam as religion. Which religion bred terrorism? Osama Bin Laden says that Allah loves sacrifices and so he and his Muslim followers love to kill human beings.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:05 pm |
  13. Whatcha Talkin Bout, Achmed

    Say what?! You're gonna build a Mosque near Ground Zero? Do you realize you'll antagonize all them nut jobs in Boonswoggle, West Virginia? You're gonna get a bunch of Timothy McVeigh wanna-be Christian zealot wackaloons parking U-Hauls full of cow flop in front to get back at you.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:05 pm |
    • spado

      Who is spreading the lie that McVeigh was a Christian zealot. He was not particularly religious. He was ant-government and was angry about the power of the federal government.

      August 3, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
  14. rocknroll

    I hope they burn it down on the grand opening

    August 3, 2010 at 12:05 pm |
    • Robert

      Because the last thing we want in America is religious tolerance, right?

      August 3, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
  15. barbarainPA

    Maybe this will make someone think twice, but then again, maybe not.

    I was raised as a Catholic. Like a lot of younger people, I fell away due to hypocrisy within the church, and deemed myself spiritual for awhile. I lived and worked in MD during 9/11. Because we were so close to DC and the Pentagon, they shut our building down, and I went to a friend's where I sat dumbfounded in horror watching it unfold. We were flipping channels and one of the Spanish networks showed the people jumping....all the way until they disappeared behind a building. It was the most disturbing thing I've ever witnessed, and had trouble sleeping for days.

    Months went by, and I was in a stupor. I watched and read everything 9/11, almost as if I were constantly picking at a scab, torturing myself. After a number of months, I finally decided I HAD TO SEE, with my very own eyes, where it said in the Muslim holy book where this act was considered a great thing, and what god would reward someone for doing this act. I went out and bought a Qur'an at Border's (bad idea), and tried to find something where this was written. I asked some Muslim co-workers for some information, and a pamphlet was given to me. I called the number, and asked questions. I went to a mosque and I asked questions I had on things I read in my Border's Qur'an. I was given a Qur'an that was translated by Muslims or scholars of Islam, instead of the one I had purchases which was written by a Christian (and let's face it....what Christian is going to read a Bible written by a Muslim? None. Plus, most mosques will give Qur'ans to people, not sell them). I searched and searched, because I HAD to make sense of it all.....only I found nothing that said this was a glorified act. Nothing that said God would reward them. Nothing. What I did find, was an article from the November 1978 National Geographic magazine about the hajj, or pilgrimage, to Mecca. A Muslim professor at George Washington University wrote the article, and it was what I had been searching for.....a clear and concise explanation of Islam.

    One God. No intermediaries. No ministers to tell you how holy, or horrible, you are. It's you and God Almighty, and the ONLY thing that makes a person better than another is their piety; not their wealth, nor possessions, not how often they are in church (or synagogue or mosque), or how much someone (usually publically) donates....but their devotion to God.

    After many years of looking, I had found what I had been looking for, although I hadn't even really known I was searching. I became Muslim in Dec. 2004, and it has been wonderful. I never thought I'd get married, but all praise to God, I met my husband in 2005, and we were married shortly thereafter.

    People, if you want information, please do not think most MSM news outlets, or the internet, is going to provide you non-biased viewpoints. Call up a local mosque, and ask questions. Better yet, VISIT a local mosque and sit down and ask legitimate questions, but in a respectful manner – no curses or obscenities, no shouting. You won't be proselytized, you won't be thrown out.....but you should ask if you want to know. If you want to remain angry and full of hatred (directed at the wrong things, I might add), that is your choice. But I don't think that is something ANY prophet of God would endorse.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:05 pm |
    • 369dove

      Does your husband make you cover yourself (veil, burka, etc.) freedoms you had before this wonderful man? I live next to a muslim family and see everyday how the poor woman (wife)is treated as a 2nd class citizen by her wonderful man and his wonderful friends. It makes me sick. I see nothing but sadness and trouble coming from this situation.

      August 3, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
    • spado

      Oh man, I saw this coming. We are so morally lost that we don't know which end is up any more.

      August 3, 2010 at 4:01 pm |
  16. John

    The Islamic Center should be built and looked at as a symbol for one of the things this nation stands for: religious freedom. Discrimination is not the way to honor those that died on 9/11. Opening the mosque and learning center will allow peaceful Muslims to practice their religion and add value to NYC and the nation as a whole. If this was a proposed Catholic Church or Jewish Synagoge site, I doubt anything would have been said at all.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:05 pm |
  17. Ren

    Why should we be surprised about this development ? Isn't this what they've done in Europe and now starting to do in North America ? Have you not watched "muslim demographics" where it clearly shows how the muslim world is going to over populate the world and eventually elect muslim governments everywhere ? Wake up folks, they know what they are doing. We are being soooo accepting, soo understanding and we believe what they tell us about their so called peaceful religion....NOT! I shall never forget the loss of o many of my brothers (fire fighters) at the hands of these villains.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:05 pm |
  18. Lucy

    No Robert. Everyone seems to think that to LOVE means you can't FIGHT. There is righteous indignation, and if you want to see the wrath of God, just wait 'cause it's coming!!

    August 3, 2010 at 12:04 pm |
    • Jerry

      I thought Christians were suppose to turn the other cheek.

      August 3, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
  19. Jan

    In a normal world, one has to wonder why terrorists do what they do. This isn't a normal world though, so, instead, I'll wonder about whether someone dressed up in the latest Cole Haan C4 jacket will walk into the Mosque on opening day.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:04 pm |
  20. Cassarit

    I'm all for thgis mosque. But why are they calling it the Cordoba initiative? Why did they pick a name harking back to the days of Moorish occupation of Hispania?

    August 3, 2010 at 12:04 pm |
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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.