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. John

    I get the whole religious freedom and tolerance thing, but what gets me is more of a "good neighbor" issue. If I wanted to put up a large picket fence around my yard, but my neighbors thought that it was unsightly then I would have a choice between doing what I want and doing what my neighbors want. If I do what I want, then my neighbors will be upset and I will probably end up unhappy in the end as my neighbors express their disapproval. If I do what they want and don't build the fence then I would be unhappy with myself for letting everyone else tell me what to do. So what I would probably do is talk to my neighbors and find a more acceptable type of fence that would make us both at least somewhat happy. And by involving my neighbors' opinions they will probably be more likely to support a fence more to my liking than theirs.

    This mosque is obviously touching a nerve with a lot of people. So what is the compromise being offered by the Muslim community? Maybe there has been a compromise, but I haven't heard of it, and if there has, it doesn't seem to have placated too many people.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:52 pm |
  2. Nathan

    Sad day in America. For those of you that support this...unbelievable. We lost 3000 men and women that day and the developer of this shady operation is doing this to slap America, and all of those families that lost loved ones, in the face. You are being hoodwinked if you believe the line they are shoving at us. I would like to personally apologize to the victimes of 9/11 for our complete and utter disregard for your feelings.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:52 pm |
  3. Qalam96

    The proposed building will be an Islamic community centre with a Muslim "chapel" (prayer room). Muslims, Jews and Christians already sit on the centre's board of directors. The centre is intended to be a 21st century Muslim version of New York's YMCAs (Young Men's Christian Associations) and YMHAs (Young Men's Hebrew Associations), that is, a faith-based community centre open to all and aimed at promoting brotherhood and enriching the neighbourhood's social and moral environment. There is already a Muslim prayer room in the existing building. More than 300 Muslims died in the WTC attack and several Muslim first responders are now fighting disability and chronic illness resulting from their work on the WTC site. What would Prophet Jesus (peace be on him) say to those who revile all Muslims and fail to take each one as an individual? He would say, as he has already said, "My brothers, in as much as you do it unto the lowest among them, you do it unto me."

    August 3, 2010 at 12:51 pm |
  4. Mark

    Good move by the panel. If this went thru, it would come down quicker than it went up, guaranteed. In other examples, it would be like putting a german/nazi building next to a jewish memorial. Absolutely wrong every which way you look at it. It's just something you don't do. No offence to anyone who's muslim, but if we messed up your turf or did something like this, I wouldn't expect a building of ours to go next to one of yours or ground zero of the massacre

    August 3, 2010 at 12:51 pm |
  5. rimjim

    Islam in Action!!! Again!!!
    For hundreds of years where ever Islam goes it first destroys the non-Muslim culture(templles, churches, business places) and build mosques or other islamic symbols on top of them.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:51 pm |
  6. dwight huth

    Certain activities and their venues should be done privately, fornication and religious activities among them. Both are fine, in their place, but should not be seen by the sensitive.

    ..Both are fine, in their place, but should not be kept to the realm of the privacy of the individual's home.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:51 pm |
  7. TorontoKing

    Look at Gaza, West Bank, Kashmir....and you will see jihadi youths come out of these "Mosques" after Friday afternoon after an hour of hate-speech hearing...and throw "Stones" to the "Infidels"...
    You know why Israel and India is so successfull countering them over the last 50 years? Coz their (Israel, India) back is against the wall and they learnt how to respond.
    Learn it. Humanity is wonderful till the question of existance remains far!

    August 3, 2010 at 12:51 pm |
    • AlexNYC

      You are intellectually challenged. Did you drop out of school at the ripe young age of 10?

      August 3, 2010 at 1:22 pm |
  8. TexinVA

    I would rather live next door to a Muslim than to some of the stupid, ignorant morons that have posted here. This is America people, freedom of religion, FREEDOM, for EVERYBODY. The site is a MILE away from ground zero, get a brain people!! A tiny extremist group perpetrated 9/11. It's like pointing to David Koresh or Jim Jones and saying all Christians are murderers. It never ceases to amaze me how utterly stupid some people are.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:50 pm |
  9. Pushtoon

    Palin is good at sucking sticks n balls

    August 3, 2010 at 12:50 pm |
  10. AlexNYC

    There is so much hatred and apparently emotions are running hot without any reasoning. Yes, as a New Yorker and American citizen who works downtown, they should build it. As the most diversified city in America, we are all about freedom and tolerance. What happen to the Muslims who died on 9/11? They don’t count. And for the geographically challenged, the proposed site is not at ground zero….get your facts straight. As a FYI – I take a Marxist view on religion

    August 3, 2010 at 12:50 pm |
  11. Bob

    A lot of your seem to think "freedom of religion" is the answer to building this thing. Well, you had better read the Koran because a lot of you will be going "I did not know they thought that". In America you can go into any Chruch or Temple with no problem. Try going into a Mosque and then tell me freedom of religion. What do you say about the poor women who with this freedom of religion cannot be with the men. How would you feel if whites, asians, hipanics, blacks were kept separate from the others? Freedom of religion......I think NOT.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:50 pm |
  12. Emi.. Montreal,Canada

    i agree with a comment from Larry... " try building a church in Saudi Arabia " first they'll kill you and then hang you...i don't understand why we are bowing down to this issue.... it's Amercian soil so, let the Amercian people vote...of course the Mayor of NY will agree... he doesn't want anything to happen to him if he says NO !!!!

    August 3, 2010 at 12:50 pm |
  13. Robert w

    "Building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain – unnecessarily – and that is not right," Did you get the message? "THEY DON"T CARE!".

    August 3, 2010 at 12:50 pm |
  14. zeb

    @vijay kumar. shut up vijay n stay in your manders worshiping dirty slthry rats and snakes. and stinking red butts monkeys(hano manjees) keep eating grass n inflate your belly as much as u can so it be hard to see your stick like legs. thats how you stupid indians look in reality not in your films huh!

    August 3, 2010 at 12:50 pm |
  15. John

    Let us not forget that we are ALL children of Abraham.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:49 pm |
    • Reality


      News flash, most contemporary historians and archeologists have concluded that Abraham never existed. Such findings have forced the Conservative rabbis in the US to rewrite the OT/torah. Google "New Torah for Modern Minds".

      August 3, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
  16. Rez

    Too many fools who have know understanding of the principles of America are trying to make pointless comments. But its YOUR right isn’t it.
    How will the world be a better place if we stop the construction of this mosque? If you want to ban the mosque then why not ban all Muslims from NYC or even better the United States? Why stop at the mosque? Would the families of all the Muslim victims (we've seem to have forgotten about them) be protesting like this against a church if it were to be built there instead? People this is the United States of America!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hundreds of thousands of MEN and WOMEN have died to establish and preserve the rights that each of us (citizens of the USA) have today and one of those rights happens to be FREEDOM of RELIGION. Don't be blinded by the few radicals who destroyed the life of thousands on 9/11 because that’s exactly what they want from you. You will only fuel their fire and provide a gateway for them to strengthen their murderous cause. Be what it may, if your a true AMERICAN then you should support the principles of this country, your fellow citizens and this religious establishment.
    In my opinion the Mosque will be a symbolic representation of how we've overcome what those Terrorist did to us on that disastrous day. We all know that 9/11 changed our lives forever as individuals and as a nation. Accepting what these people are trying to do and what they believe in will maybe just maybe bring us a little closer to how things were before this tragedy occurred.
    Thankfully, I'm not a religious person but I'm a first generation American whose Muslim parents emigrated from the Middle East (BOTH US CITIZENS NOW). You have no idea how much I feel my life has changed since the day this occurred. One day I was your average American still in college and working to make a better life for me and others (I'm an engineer) and the next day I walk into a room and I have this eerie feeling that every eye in the room is focused on me.
    Please think and speak like true Americans. Don’t let all the live lost since this country was founded become meaningless. I understand how hard this must be for some of the victims and families of 9/11. In time some may be able to overcome the pain and anger generated by their loss and this Mosque and some won’t. That’s just a fact of life. As a society we must not express our opinions solely on emotion, but instead we must ask ourselves what we can do to make this country stronger. I’ll tell you right now that trying to prevent this Mosque from being built will not lead us in the right direction.

    P.S. Palin you are an idiot and you may have even cost the Republican Party the election. Take you’re a** back to Alaska and make sure your daughter is using condoms because I’m more interested in hearing in hearing what Big Bird has to say about current events than you.

    For those of you who care thanks for reading.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
  17. Reality

    The expansion of Islam and its demise:

    The number of global Muslims indeed is 1.5 billion basically because of the very high birth rate in Islam.

    According to official surveys, "the disapproval of family planning is highest among Muslims", while "the practice of family planning methods in 1980 was lowest amongst Muslims (only 23% of those surveyed practised it as opposed to 36% Hindus)".[1] They further admit that between 1971 and 1981, "the Hindu population was up by 24.15%, whereas the Muslim population shot up by 30.59%".

    Once the bowers to Mecca, however, see that they have been conned by the "angelic" hallucinations of a long-dead, warmongering, womanizing (11 wives) Arab, these 1.5 billion lost souls will quickly become secularists, agnostics or atheists and a semblance a global peace will spread across the globe

    August 3, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
  18. ac

    This Mosque issue it is very disturbing. It appears as if we are rewarding the radical world for 9/11. I don't see any value on allowing the build up of this Mosque in ground zero. Actually, it may be even very disrepectfull of the people who lost their love ones during this sinister attack on our soil.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
  19. Haley

    And was President Obama or any of the Democrat representatives in his administration one of the voters in this decision? NO. So how can you think this is his doing?

    August 3, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
  20. FattyLumpkin

    Most of those opposed are generalizing the entire Muslim religion to a heinous act committed by a very small number of incredibly radical Muslims. It is the West's arrogance that has created this group – some of which is exhibited in these posts. The remainder of Muslims are peaceful, standard, everyday people (go figure, just like most of the Christian population!) – they're just feared because, to Christians, they're "different". Shame on Christians for being so single-minded, intolerant, and arrogant in their relations with any non-prevailing belief.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:47 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.