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. B

    All the people on the panel who approved this should be shot (just wounded) then set a drift into the ocean. Get them off our soil.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
  2. Betsy Ross

    You build it....we bomb it....sounds good to me 🙂

    August 3, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
  3. Duane

    I see the back and forth and everyone has good points. The one thing i must note however it that you do not see Christians trying to become martyr's and kill everyone that is not a Christian. Christian's do not look to force people into their religion at the barrel of a gun or a bomb.

    I am sorry, I know the muslim religion teaches peace but those people who follow it do not follow the teachings nor do they attempt to stop those who are violent. Until they have a shift in focus, I think building this mosque will incite bitter feelings on both sides.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:14 pm |
    • LearnToRead

      Islam is younger than Christianity. The religion is still traveling through what Christianity traveled through long ago.

      August 3, 2010 at 1:21 pm |
  4. Batorava Musoni

    Lucy, the Christian God is the SAME as the Islamic God. Here is why. As far as I know, the Islamic God is the God of Abraham and Ishamel. As far as I know, the God of Abraham and Isaac IS Our God, our very own Jehovah Jireh

    August 3, 2010 at 12:14 pm |
  5. sumday

    ok so Muslism fly planes into our buildings and then get to build a mosque next to it. Like that won't encourage them or justify it in their skewed minds that Allah must be on their side for allowing it. be prepared for more attacks, I can hear Osama with his propganda now...see Allah wants you to attack and afterwards we can build OUR mosques their. freedom of religion is great but ignorance of religion is foolishness. They attacked us for 1 reason to rule over us and allowing them to build at or near the site of their attack only encourages their beilfs.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:13 pm |
  6. Yves

    Reading all these comments I am shocked at the bigotry here – supposedly in a free country that achieved greatness in the first place because different kinds of people were free to do what they pleased within the ambit of the law. Are these bigots americans??? I grew up knowing that intolerance is not an American virtue. Where did all these bigots grow up? Saudi Arabia?

    Having said that, i think Moslems have all the right to build wherever they want to but building something close to the site is unnecessary provocation especially given that the memories are so fresh in everyone's minds. We non-moslems do not have any right to prevent it but the moderate moslems should curb this if they genuinely want to build bridges

    August 3, 2010 at 12:13 pm |
    • groovygoober

      Agreed Yves. I really think it's more of a "is this really a good idea" question. I can't imagine that the individuals wanting to build the mosque didn't run this through their minds.

      August 3, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
  7. Nick

    So which one of you people on this post that support this mosque have been personally affected by the 9/11 attacks..WHICH ONE?!?! absolutly NONE of you because i see from some of your posts that you think this is about religious freedom...do the 3000 DEAD AMERICANS have their freedoms anymore...NO! their freedoms were stripped from them when they died on that terrible day...i understand that it was extremists but they flew those planes into the World Trade Center towers in the name of the same person who will now be worshiped just down the road! America is a great place and tolerant of almost all walks of life but there needs to be a line to that tolerance...and that line has just been crossed!

    August 3, 2010 at 12:12 pm |
  8. Axa

    If anyone is opposed to this (e.g. Palin), put your money where your mouth is. Make an offer the current owners cannot refuse!

    August 3, 2010 at 12:12 pm |
  9. Ferdinand

    As unpopular as this decision may be, to not allow it because it is 'painful' would be against the very concept of 'freedom' that this country stands for. It may hurt feelings to have this built, but because the USA is built upon a cornerstone of freedom there isn't much you can do. Unless you want to live in autocratic state.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:12 pm |
  10. Matt

    Just think of how much more work would get done, if people weren't spending their time debating about lame religious subjects on CNN.com while at work.

    Cartoonists getting threatened because of the prophet muhhamad cartoons, buildings getting blown up because of allah, baptist church idiots protesting at soldier funerals, the list goes on and on and on and on....

    Religion is a virus.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:12 pm |
  11. Vince

    So the answer here is to blame the entire religion of Islam for the actions of a few fringe followers on 9/11? OK, then by that logic I'm blaming all Christians for the murders of abortion doctors across the country, when they take place. I don't think their churches should be built in towns where these killings occur. I'm also holding all Jews responsible for the killings that took place a few months ago on the relief boats heading to Palestine. Additionally, all Germans should be held responsible for what Hitler did during the Holocaust.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
  12. non-American, with brains

    That was expected from day one....when the ruler here is $$, and people deny God more and more everyday....when your only concern in life is about your bread and mortgage....when people become more and more ignorant everyday, and only occupied with "reality" shows and innocent little girls like hannah montana who become a celebrity and ruins her childhood for money....when all this happens, this is what comes next!!!!

    get ready, this is a one-way road for the USA...now, no one cares because no one is affected, but eventually, the USA as you know it will be vansihed and replaced with Mecca version II

    Have fun, idiots!!!!

    August 3, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
  13. egh

    Our country is done. Stick a fork in it. Hopefully some of our patriots will desroy the place.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
  14. nina

    Why can't we build a multicultural/multi religious center. Why does it have to be one or the other?

    August 3, 2010 at 12:10 pm |
  15. Vivian

    This is for Marc. I might not live in NY, but I do live in the United States of America. What every happens anywhere on US soil is the business of every American. I don't have a problem with a Mosque being built, but I think they could choose a better place. Ground Zero is sacred ground for those of us who love this country and will always remember what happened there on 9/11. I think they should survey the families that lost loved ones that day and let them decide. They are the ones who paid the ultimate price for that day in history.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:10 pm |
  16. Carmen

    This is such crap! I'm so sick of the US cow-towing to Muslims. Why build a mosque there? In that particular spot?? Just to demostrate how tolerant we are? We've already done that, the building of mosques in the US is up 42% in the last 10 years! It would make MUCH BETTER SENSE to build an Interfaith Center.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
    • LearnToRead

      To build an interfaith center you'd probably need other faiths...and seeing how everyone seemingly despises Islam, that would be kind of difficult.

      August 3, 2010 at 1:19 pm |
  17. alex

    This is nuts... Where is the respect for those who were killed by the the holly war slogan?
    What is next? Neo Nazi school or boot camp 1 block from Jewish cemeteries?

    August 3, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
  18. clr

    To Jim James – "re Sarah Palin...lol No, no, no. Building a mosque would be insulting, I agree. I guess the strip club down the street and the dozen or so bars in the area are a perfect compliment to the Ground Zero memorial."

    The stripers did not blow up the world trade center. The muslims did.

    This sets back Muslim relations about 10 steps... of course – the guy pushing the build of this is hoping precisely for that.

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

    I heard that the grand opening for this mosque is being planned for Sept. 11, 2011 – the ten year anniversary of the attack- does anyone have any info about this?

    August 3, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
  20. John

    Is Obama smiling today?

    August 3, 2010 at 12:08 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.