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. javed

    The loss of one innocent life is the loss of the whole humanity that is what the Quran states very clearly. Muslims were also amongst deads at the world trade centre it was one of the most tragic events that would change history for ever. an eye for an eye would make the world blind (Ghandhi). We should all try to build a peaceful world together but one must remember until the United States of America does not change its foreign policy and support dictatorship governments in the middle east and rest of the world like saudi arabia who owns 10 percent of US GDP we will always have conficts and people like bin laden taking the best of the opportunity to wage thier personal war. Wahabism is responsible for the rise of ISlamic terrorism and is funded by saudi because that is where the movement was founded

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

    I'm not religious and think people should keep their fate to themselves, however I do believe that we should be able to differentiate between people who follow a religion (i.e. Muslims) and those who are involved in terrorist activities (i.e. people involved in 9/11). The idea that we were attacked by the entire Muslim population is just preposterous! Obviously not all Muslims are terrorists. The notion that Muslims shouldn't be allowed to build a mosque near ground zero is like claiming that it's would be wrong to build a church near downtown Oklahoma city. I do however think there are too many religious buildings all over this country as it is, but that's an entirely different issue.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:30 pm |
  3. Daniel

    We cannot built a Mosque near Ground Zero. It is a provocation, and could insight violence from those who see Islam as the enemy.
    I have known Islamic people to be generally good. The problem is the desire to be a martyr. A Jihad can produce many martyrs. It was islamic "martyrs" who crashed into the Twin Towers on 09-11-2001. The prophet Muhammad was a sometimes a Military leader. How can a peaceful religion come from a Military Mind?

    Those who are still hurt, and wounded from 9/11 will see this as a target for vengeance, and will Scream. "Eye for an Eye!"
    It is not a smart, or a safe location. It's existence will insight violence.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:30 pm |
  4. rooster

    I love how "tolerant" the peaceful Muslims claim to be, but can we put up a Christian Church near one of their sacred places?

    Let them put it up. It will be probably a month before they realize it was a bad move.....

    August 3, 2010 at 12:30 pm |
  5. Doug Funny

    I doubt you'll see any Christian extremists flying planes into that building.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:30 pm |
  6. The Choobs

    Grow up haters! Look at the facts: (1) it's NOT at Ground Zero, it's a few blocks away; (2) there are ALREADY prayer sites in the building they are replacing that no one has EVER complained about it; (3) our first amendment prohibits making government decisions about this based on religions we simply don't like, and (4) honest hard-working American citizens who were Islamic died on 9-11 too, so stop acting like non-Muslims "own" the tragedy. People who are making this an issue are being jerks. As I said, grow up and learn to play int he sandbox with others.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:30 pm |
  7. Vivian

    God Bless the soldiers that gave their lives for all of us to be able to say what we want and not worry about someone coming into our homes to drag us off to some hell hole of a prison or to execute us for saying what we think.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
  8. Lauren

    At first I got a little stab from reading this, but honestly, it wasn't the muslim religion that planned the terrorist attack. It was Osama Bin Ladin, al queda. If a catholic carried out a terrorist attack, a church near the area of the attack would not a be controversial. Muslims moved here for a better life, most do not believe in al queda or insurgent groups. let them worship how they want.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
  9. Hammerdown

    so the neighborhood does not go with all the strip clubs, bars, drugies and gangs in the area ?

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

    I say build a mosque in the Freedom tower, what better protection could you hope to have?

    August 3, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
  11. joxer

    Why are we building a mosque for only half the worlds population, no women are allowed in mosques or they have to be hidden behind a wall. does this promote American values and freedom

    August 3, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
  12. Jim

    Christians have killed many more "innocents" than every other religion combined.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:28 pm |
  13. Christie

    I am a conservative Christian. I support the RIGHT of the property owners to do with thier property as they please. I wish they would be more sensitive, I wish they would not build a mosque or community center. But, that is not going to happen.
    Property ownership is important and we are seeing our rights as citizens who own property taken away all over this country.
    So, for the decision based upon THAT fact alone, I think it was right.
    HOWEVER, I do not understand why the Greek Orthodox church, which was destroyed on 9-11 is having so many problems rebuilding. THAT does not make sense to me. IF a Mosque is built, and the Greek Orthodox church is not, conspiracy theories will prevail.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:28 pm |
  14. Nate

    A mosque will be built before the WTC is rebuilt. GG Muslims.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:28 pm |
  15. AZ

    I can't understand the comparison of Mecca to NY city .... if Muslims asked to build a mosque in the Vatican, the comparison may make sense. I didn't know that NY city is a holy land to Christian and Jewish people...

    You can build a church in Turkey, Egypt, Dubai, Indonesia or other Muslim countries ...

    don't forget that hundreds of muslims were killed on 9/11, and their families feel as much pain as all other victims...

    August 3, 2010 at 12:28 pm |
  16. ifly2

    History has shown that where ever Muslims have had a victory, they have built a mosque! Someone in NY's Government needs to stop this now!

    August 3, 2010 at 12:28 pm |
  17. sg

    UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!!!!!!! GREAT JOB "NEY YORKISTAN"..............

    August 3, 2010 at 12:28 pm |
  18. HuMAN

    That is a good move for Muslims to show their love for this place. To build a holy place there, offers prayers for the victim, and pray for the harmony and prosperity of that region. Other religions should also built the places of worship there. To develop harmony and show the face of American tolerance, freedom of belief, and peace to rest of the world out of the tragedy. God bless this place with peace and harmony.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:28 pm |
  19. Lee

    why dont you just throw a ham or bacon on the soil so they can't build anything...ever

    August 3, 2010 at 12:27 pm |
  20. Robert

    The truly amazing fact about this debate is that the U.S. is founded on religious freedom. We came here to avoid opression by the church of England. Religious freedom means tolarance. If you can build a chuch of worship which is christan two blocks from the 9/11 site, then you should be able to build a muslim house of worship. Saying all muslims caused 9/11 is like saying all christans abuse children. Its simply intolarent and wrong.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:27 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.