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. Andy

    Can someone verify that this community center will welcome all religions for worship or will it be only for muslims. I have heard both. I think if this community center welcomes all faiths I think it will start to bridge the gap that was wedged on 9/11. If this only a mosque then this will end badly and someone will do something stupid that will further drive the wedge. Also Palin needs to stay off twitter and keep her daughter from getting knocked up again

    August 3, 2010 at 10:44 am |
  2. Joe Geoghan

    The fact that this is even an issue is ridiculous. I'm a Catholic, but why should a mosque being built NEAR ground zero, not AT ground zero, be an issue of any kind? This isn't some ridiculous "take-over," this is a group of Americans living in the greatest city in the world gathering to worship. The perpetrators of 9/11 didn't follow through because they read the Qur'an, they did so because they were misled by evil men. This mosque's followers and that faction of political Islam have nothing in common. Saying that building this mosque is disrespectful is like saying building a German Heritage association in Poland is disrespectful. Generalization needs to stop. This shouldn't even be a matter of "tolerance" since there shouldn't be a need to "tolerate" people doing something that doesn't involve anyone else in any way. Unbelievable. I lose more and more faith in this country every day.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:44 am |
    • Deedz

      no one said they could not worship here. Building a mosque somewhere will NOT stop them from going to worship....

      August 3, 2010 at 10:52 am |
    • Deedz

      I meant to write... building a mosque SOMEWHERE ELSE than ground zero, will not stop them from going to worship.

      August 3, 2010 at 10:53 am |
    • Zach


      you are truly ignorant....i live in lower manhattan, GROUND ZERO is about a mile away from where the mosque is being bulit. blocks are way bigger in NYC than elsewhere, you would know that if you had ever visited

      all of that is beside the point, 9/11 was a greatly orchestrated deception.. the deception seems to be working EXACTLY how the deceivers wanted it to.....history will eventually open your eyes

      August 3, 2010 at 11:27 am |
  3. jim

    finally, people with some real balls. they should be the leaders of this country instead of the thug politicians.
    thank you

    August 3, 2010 at 10:43 am |
    • tim

      story was not read correctly. RETRACT

      August 3, 2010 at 10:56 am |
  4. dsgazd

    i'm all for equality, but this is a slap in the face. that's like building a German cultural center next to a Holocaust museum. it may be "politically correct", but what happened to being sensitive to the surviving families of that horrific day?

    August 3, 2010 at 10:43 am |
  5. CenterMan

    Victoria – Your intollereance is showing. Nobody banned churches in OK City after a Christian nut job killed a bunch of American children. So why should all of NYC be prohibited to Muslims?

    August 3, 2010 at 10:43 am |
  6. WDrad

    "A few bad apples" Muslims like to pretend that its only a handful of their people that give them a bad name. When thousands upon thousands take to the streets to dance in celebration of so many people in the West being killed, its a little bit more than a few bad apples. No one religion in the world today breeds more hate than Islam. The fact that this is being built anywhere near ground zero shows how American tolerance has become a sign of weakness.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:43 am |
  7. Jason

    So sad.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:43 am |
  8. Brad

    This "nation" has become a breeding ground for the spineless.
    I am becoming increasingly more ashamed to call myself an american.

    This is a slippery slope my friends

    August 3, 2010 at 10:42 am |
  9. Just Wondering

    Does the Qur'an say this?:

    "O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust."

    and elsewhere,

    "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued."

    And if so, then why are these Muslims claiming to be "committed to promoting positive interaction between the Muslim world and the West."?

    Just seems inconsistent...

    August 3, 2010 at 10:42 am |
    • tolerant

      One can bring forth out-of-context verses from the Bible to try to prove something that the original text is not suggesting.

      Read Muhammad Asad's commentary on these verses of the Qur`an to understand their meaning. They go against the meaning put forth by the ignorants who clearly have an agenda and are full of hatred and irrational fear.

      August 3, 2010 at 10:53 am |
    • Just Wondering

      Irrational? Huh? I think I remember already being attacked by people who hold exactly these beliefs. Yep, those two tall buildings that were 2 blocks away from this location AREN'T THERE anymore. It's not irrational. Yes I'm afraid and it IS rational.

      August 3, 2010 at 10:58 am |
    • tolerant

      The evil acts of 911 were just that: pure evil. About 10% of the victims were Muslims, according to some estimates. It was a human tragedy and acts of evil.

      August 3, 2010 at 11:01 am |
    • Sayeed

      I am not an expert but you need the background on these verses why they were revealed, these are best answered by the imams of the mosques, come down to your local mosque and ask the imam "why should you trust muslims when the Quran says .......(what you quoted above)?"

      August 3, 2010 at 11:06 am |
    • Thoughtful

      It most certainly says that but this is one of the most common mistakes that Muslims and non-Muslims make. Many things in Quran are time specific and therefore have to be understood within their actual context. There were times when people of other religions were conspiring against the Muslims and there were certain Muslims who conspired against their own as well. The verses made sense at that time. Just like the verse for women to cover themselves from head to toe was a response to a certain issue and not meant to carry on as a practice beyond that point in time. And take the crux of this whole issue: Jihad. Ask someone who believes in the literal translation of the word and they would say it is fighting in the name of God. Yes in extreme conditions and only when your government allows it. But that's just one of the ways you can do jihad. Controlling one's gaze is a form of Jihad; making a conscious effort to not back-bite is Jihad; helping out orphans; controlling your greed, etc.

      Do people have a right to build a prayer of worhsip anywhere in the country. Yes, sure. Is it morally acceptable to build it "near" ground zero. Absolutely not. Why? Because it hurts American's feelings.

      Do people have the freedom of expression and say or print whatever they would like to against Islam, for example creating Draw Muhammad day on facebook or publish caricatures? Yes, absolutely. Is it morally right to do? Not at all. Why? Because wit hurts millions of Muslim's feelings all around the feeling.

      We continue to go in a circle. Thousands of years of evolution and still humankind doesn't get it.

      August 3, 2010 at 11:09 am |
    • barbarainPA

      @Just Wondering – I don't know of many Muslims who would just type a verse from the Qur'an and then just blather on about it's TRUE meaning.

      That is not done. Distorting information is condemned in Islam, because that is how off shoots and craziness begins.....just think of David Koresh....distortion of information to FIT AN AGENDA.

      There are scholars in Islam, who take YEARS to explain a single verse....and yet here you are, telling us all what those verses mean as if you've studied them, and the context in which they were sent, and the time period in which they were sent.

      You realize there were battles in the time the Qur'an was revealed, no? And some verses have to do with those battles? I'm not going to explain what they mean, or the context, because I KNOW I am no scholar of the Qur'an.

      A tiny bit of information in the hands of the wrong people is a dangerous thing.

      August 3, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
  10. sanane

    Those idiots do not represent the whole of Islam.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:41 am |
  11. marc

    we have too many mosques, churches, and synagoues already. I'm siding with the tea-baggers on this one (first time ever, I believe). cancel the mosque, and build a school. teach some real education, not medieval fairy tales.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:41 am |
    • jordan

      wow totally agree- religion is an ancient virus that needs to stop spreading

      August 3, 2010 at 2:31 pm |
  12. Chafic

    the people who commited the crime are not the same people who want to build the mosque. This is like saying that you cannot build a church because Hitler was a mruderer.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:41 am |
  13. Dan

    Victoria your comments are a model of disrespect!

    August 3, 2010 at 10:41 am |
  14. tolerant

    We humankind have forgottern this noble principle: Do unto others what you would want done unto you.

    The intolerance and ignorance shown here is unbelievable!

    August 3, 2010 at 10:41 am |
    • Deedz

      Muslims also need to learn to be tolerant.... why only us!
      They should accept that if they cannot build their shrine in that specific spot, they will have to build it somewhere else.

      August 3, 2010 at 10:50 am |
    • tolerant

      Yes, we all have to act nobly towards each other.

      August 3, 2010 at 10:56 am |
  15. Al

    To build this on soil stained with the blood of the 9/11 victims is an insult to the dead, and to spit in the face of those left behind. It's THEIR TURN to show understanding and sensitivity to OUR feelings. Let the sevants of Allah make the gesture towards reconciliation, at the site of Islams most horrific act of terror. WE'VE ALREADY MADE OUR SCRIFICE!!

    August 3, 2010 at 10:40 am |
  16. whatsthat

    Are you insane bridge the gap to acceptance the only acceptance the Muslim word is looking for is your acceptance to their way of life, remember Neville Chamberlain peace in our time as Hitler prepared for world domination. How many Christian churches exist in Sadia Arabia ? I'll answer my own question, none, now there is acceptance and bridging the gap.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:40 am |
    • Chafic

      just becuase Saudi Arabia is an intolerant country (which by the way is against Islam, a Muslim government has the responsibility to protect other faiths' places of worship), does not mean that we should be as well. by denying the American Muslims right to their place of worship you are not getting back at Saudi Arabia nor are you hurting them, nor is it an eye for an eye. if you are denying the Saudi national worhsip in the US because Saudi Arabia is deniying an American national the same, then it would be a matter of discussion. but these are American Nationals wanting to exercise their right in their home country!

      August 3, 2010 at 10:52 am |
    • Some1

      Can you please point me to a tolerant Islamic country that accepts other religions with the same zeal we do here in the west? *Jeopardy music plays, no answer and the buzzer goes*
      Trebek = "Sorry, but that was a trick question. There is no such country because the construction of this "religion of peace" does not allow it"

      August 3, 2010 at 11:18 am |
    • jordan

      building a mosque 2 blocks (which is about 100 yards) from ground zero is completely rude and disrespectful to the victims of 9/11- I'm not saying don't 'let them' build it, but they should know if they do there will be a lot of hate towards the muslim community for committing such a disrespectful act- not a 'bridge'

      August 3, 2010 at 2:29 pm |
    • tolerant

      To Some1: Two wrong's don't make it right. Why should America follow the poor example of the Muslims countries? America is the light unto other nations setting good example for them. Should we suspend democracy just because there is no democracy in the Muslim world? What kind of logic is that?

      August 3, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  17. Dilbert

    No churches, no mosques, no religion! Anywhere!

    August 3, 2010 at 10:40 am |
  18. IslamIsNeat!

    "committed to promoting positive interaction between the Muslim world and the West."

    How about you build this in the Middle East then? The West isn't the one causing all the problems in this relationship.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:39 am |
  19. Gary

    3,000 Americans died as a result of the islamic terrorist assault on the World Trade Center, several thousand more fighting in Iraq and Afganistan. This is the most insensitive place in this country to build a shrine to islam. Whatever the intent, muslims will create a hatred for islam if a mosque is built here. I would urge the leadership of this project to find a place that doesn't make non-muslim Americans feel like we are being slapped in the face. We do not need a mosque to remind us of who was responsible for negatively changing our lives forever.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:39 am |
    • Andrew


      August 3, 2010 at 10:45 am |
    • Strength

      3,000 Americans died as a result of the islamic terrorist assault on the World Trade Center, several thousand more fighting in Iraq and Afganistan. This is the most insensitive place in this country to build a shrine to islam. Whatever the intent, muslims will create a hatred for islam if a mosque is built here. I would urge the leadership of this project to find a place that doesn't make non-muslim Americans feel like we are being slapped in the face. We do not need a mosque to remind us of who was responsible for negatively changing our lives forever.

      where to start...apparently there is already a hate for islam with how people have been acting since this war began, and don't try to use our honor for dying on the front line to keep you safe so you CAN sit on your a_ _ and talk this junk. and note, they are building a community center with a prayer room...not a statue to Al Queda. so the whole "who is responsible for negatively changing our lives forever" stuff? no.

      August 3, 2010 at 10:49 am |
    • Ryan

      Yes, Americans died on 9/11, yes American soldiers have died fighting wars (wars we waged) this decade. And guess what?.... American Muslims also died on 9/11 and American Muslim soldiers have also died in the wars.

      American and Muslim are not mutually exclusive terms.

      August 3, 2010 at 7:37 pm |
  20. Doug

    Now that you have slapped America in the face with the ground zero mosque, the next time NYC gets hit I will celebrate with the Muslim.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:38 am |
    • TruePatriot

      Doug, well said....

      August 3, 2010 at 12:50 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.