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. Gayorge

    perhaps it would be best to differentiate purpose: 1.Timothy McVeigh was against the US government
    2. There are no Christian terrorists and for a group to claim to be followers of Christ and be terrorists then they are just labeling themselves to cause uproar. 3. Unlike Muslims, Christians denounce all forms of terrorism
    4. IRA could also be called freedom fighters – they fight for rights/liberties against the goverment 5.
    The only group that just slaughters people for religous reasons are Muslims. You have to dig into the details. Moreover, the muslim community at large has not been very outspoken on condemning Muslim violence.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:03 pm |
    • charles

      Freedom fighters? No such thing as Christian terrorists? Murder is murder forwhatever cause. You need to research christian terrorism, it is fairly prevalent. Because a few Muslims drank the kool-aid and orchestrated 9-11 all muslims are terrorist? You are just plain foolish.

      August 3, 2010 at 1:49 pm |
  2. Aaron

    Edwin – As I just noted in response to Umme, just because the muslims did not enslave the christians and jewish inhabitants of spain, doesnt mean it felt good for them to have the pay taxes to their conquerers for not being muslim, or that they wanted to be ruled by them, regardless of how relatively wealthy the region was. The fact Cordoba represents tolerance to Muslims is irrelevant. If the purpose of the group is outreach my view of it is more important.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:03 pm |
  3. legalHere

    im not specifically against the mosque, im specifically against muslim presence in the US. If they werent here we wouldnt have these lively discussion and amen to this. Stop letting them in and allowing em to become citizens, this would strip many a so called rights from them and make it much easier to deal with things like that. But the way things are these days we must stand up to this mosque and do everything possible to disallow it, this is not supposed to happen

    August 3, 2010 at 1:03 pm |
  4. George

    perhaps it would be best to differentiate purpose: 1.Timothy McVeigh was against the US government
    2. There are no Christian terrorists and for a group to claim to be followers of Christ and be terrorists then they are just labeling themselves to cause uproar. 3. Unlike Muslims, Christians denounce all forms of terrorism
    4. IRA could also be called freedom fighters – they fight for rights/liberties against the goverment 5.
    The only group that just slaughters people for religous reasons are Muslims. You have to dig into the details. Moreover, the muslim community at large has not been very outspoken on condemning Muslim violence.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:02 pm |
  5. Zeke2112

    Being an atheist, I honestly could care less who prays to whichever invisible avenger or where they do it. That being said, this building is going to be a ginormous bullseye for some crazy religious nutcase determined to "do the work of God." I seriously hope that it never happens, but I don't have much faith in humanity these days.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
  6. JP

    What was done during the Crusades by Christians and Muslims is something we should learn from, not use it as an excuse for the current behavior to continue killing. Unfortunately, Muslims have not entered the current century. They want to live as if they are still in the Middle Ages. Before 9/11, I did not fear Muslims/Islam. I cannot say that anymore. I watch on TV or read the news of how everyday Muslim citizens in various countries laugh, cheer, celebrate, burn our flags or pictures of our leaders when a tragedy occurs in the U.S. or they disagree with a policy. If our citizens were to do that, Muslims all over the world would be demanding our heads on spikes. I would like to see Muslims who disagree with extremists to stand up to them and say this is not who we want representing Islam. But most are too afraid of their own people for fear of retaliation against their families. So how can you expect us not fear Muslims. We do not know who is an extremist by just looking at you. Nor do I want to take a chance and find out. So having a mosque near the 9/11 site is too dangerous and risky because extremists can and will flock there.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
  7. Brian

    Here's an idea. They destroy our landmark, and then they want to build a mosque ther. Okay. Well, we'll go ahead and drop a nuke in the center of Mecca, and then clean that up, and we'll build two towers there. How's that? Better yet, while we're at it, let's plant a huge American flag in the center of Hiroshima! I bet the people there would LOVE it! Tools.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
  8. Daisy

    I am shocked and appalled by the public out cry whole thing. I lived in that country before I came here and if you do not follow their rules, you have to leave and they are coming here and making mosque here There is something wrong. I remeber one Pakistani woman told me that she will destroy the american and the same year in 2001 the bombing took place. This is the saddest day of my life. Remember, if you go to their country and try to build a church or anything in that manner, they not only reject but they will stone to death. I do not understand why US has to to please them. They planning plotting to destroy this sacred country and you want to shelter them. If we do not wake up and smell the danger, we will face another catastrophic event from them.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
  9. Mike J

    To anyone that agrees this Mosque should not be constructed. Take a look and pass it on.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
  10. Sensitivity

    You know what its like when a kid insists on having something his way, and you know it isn't wise, but you let him have it? Go ahead... build it. You might just get more than you bargained for.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:00 pm |
  11. walid

    people are critizising Saudi Arabia for not allowing building a church in their Kingdom....But, would the Vatican allows the building of a Mosque in Vatican City....? hope I answer all the critics!

    August 3, 2010 at 1:00 pm |
  12. rimjim


    August 3, 2010 at 1:00 pm |
  13. Ralph

    As much as I feel for the people who lost loved ones during 9/11, as someone that just got back from serving in the middle east, I can say that this is the America I fight for. The America where a mosque can be built a few miles from a tragedy that was perpetrated by people of that very same religious group and in its name. Because as Americans we understand that diversity isn't just about race but also about and within religions. There are peace loving muslims who wish to pray to God and wish to seek that same God's grace over them and the people that allow them to pray there every day and for those that lost their lives in tragedy. Those are the people that are going to pray there and I fight for them as much as I fight for the Christians and Jews and Pagans and Atheists that walk the streets of New York and every other street in the nation. Those who can't stop and marvel at America and all it's freedom and beauty and diversity make me sad. Build a Mosque. Build a Temple and a Church. Build a conference hall where religious leaders can meet and discuss their simliarities and differences and come to a mutual understanding and broker peace in the world. Honor those that lost their lives both on 9/11 and in all the conflicts before and after. Remember what it is we fight for.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:59 pm |
    • Anisah

      Thank you, I could not have said it better myself. I completely agree.

      August 3, 2010 at 3:56 pm |
  14. jesse

    i can't believe they are tearing down an all american historic landmark that can't ever be built again to put up an allah loving piece of trash mosque! this country is full of cowards!!!!

    August 3, 2010 at 12:59 pm |
  15. jimh3768

    Racist punks! Are you okay with a Catholic Church near a playground full of little boys? When is the bigotry going to stop?

    August 3, 2010 at 12:58 pm |
  16. mr donut

    only america can be the stupid, they will get what they deserve

    August 3, 2010 at 12:58 pm |
  17. Daniel

    All these people who want Muslims to apologize. Hypocrits! Did the states apologize to Vietnam? To the people of Korea? To the people of Iraq? To the people of Afghanistan? To the people of the Philipines? To the people of Guatamala? To the people of Panama? Nope! The powerful do not need to apologize. As far as I am concerned the states brough 9-11 on themselves (if they weren't actually directly responsible for it). One always gets what one deserves.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:58 pm |
  18. Mathew

    One should be careful about associating the terrorists of 9/11 with mainstream Islam. If you do that, then you should be consistent and remember to lump the atrocities of the Inquisition, the Crusades, and people like Eric Rudolph together with the label of "Christianity." The IRA and Ulster Unionists conducted alot of murders and atrocities during the Troubles but does that mean Catholics and Protestants are evil people? There are some fringe elements of Hinduism that persecute Christians in India but we shouldn't be so quick to judge all Hindus as being as anti-Christian. Don't judge many by the actions of a few because, frankly, no religion has a completely clear conscience.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:57 pm |
  19. AMuslim,.

    Right on. People are saying this because they have never read about Islam. Fact is that westren world follows more Islamic values than muslims themselves i.e justice , equality etc. etc.
    USA is a free country and everyone is free to choose their religion. Blaming 911 on muslims is like blaming Oklahama bombing on christians.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:57 pm |
  20. rimjim

    Learn real islam at faithfreedomDOTrog or jihadwatchDOTorg

    August 3, 2010 at 12:57 pm |
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About this blog

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.