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. Adem Jemal

    What makes America the greatest nation on the earth is the freedom it gives to its citizens. USA ...USA.....USA....

    August 3, 2010 at 1:14 pm |
  2. andrew wang

    New York people and American people must protest New York Mayor, New York community Board 1 , New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission , Mosque Iman to ban Mosque near Ground Zero.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:14 pm |
  3. Jacob

    For once I agree with Sara Palin!

    August 3, 2010 at 1:14 pm |
  4. KC

    People preach that Americans need to be more tolerable? Let's go build a Christian "religious center," as this is being called, in a Muslim country and see how that works out.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:14 pm |
  5. blah

    While this center might server the community with access to services that are of benefit, it's symbolism will be a conduit for the radical muslim element. We in America seem to have a sight that does not extend much beyond our borders or history. If the Cordoba Initiative wanted to build this center (originally intended to be called the Cordoba House) in Spain, there would be a much greater outcry. Unfortunately, we in America tend to ignore the impact of the symbolism that is of great importance to other cultures, and in this case, of the Cordoba name and what it means in conjunction with the center and its location. This will be a significant military achievement and trophy for the radical muslims and would be seen as something of a modern day Trojan horse to those who want to see the demise of the western civilization.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:11 pm |
  6. jim

    The mosque is a good idea! Rubbing our faces in it will ensure a continuing enmity between muslims and and the rest of the country. The hostility will limit interaction of the two groups and slow assimilation of muslims into American society. It's all good!

    August 3, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
  7. DernFoley

    religious tolerance: 1
    race hatred: 0

    August 3, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
    • DVG

      Islam is not a race. But it is one f%$&(d up way of life.

      August 3, 2010 at 1:57 pm |
  8. Stupid Americans

    See what Allah can do? Allah is great! America will be destroyed.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:09 pm |
  9. C

    I think the 9/11 survivors and the people of New York City should have the final say so. Anything less would be disrespectful.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:08 pm |
  10. Scotty

    this country is a joke

    August 3, 2010 at 1:08 pm |
  11. 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.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:07 pm |
  12. Umme Omar

    Life for non-Muslims in Islamic Spain
    Jews and Christians did retain some freedom under Muslim rule, providing they obeyed certain rules that were not much of a burden by the standards of the time, and in many ways the non-Muslims of Islamic Spain were treated better than conquered peoples might have expected during that period of history.

    they were not forced to live in ghettoes or other special locations
    they were not slaves
    they were not prevented from following their faith
    they were not forced to convert or die under Muslim rule
    they were not banned from any particular ways of earning a living; they often took on jobs shunned by Muslims;
    these included unpleasant work such as tanning and butchery
    but also pleasant jobs such as banking and dealing in gold and silver
    they could work in the civil service of the Islamic rulers
    Jews and Christians were able to contribute to society and culture

    August 3, 2010 at 1:06 pm |
    • rimjim

      Umme Omar,
      Good practice of taquia. Keep on practicing, there are millions of ignorant non-muslims on the earth.

      August 3, 2010 at 1:09 pm |
  13. Peter Q. Wolfe

    Building a mosque center luxorously is putting salt in our reccent scabbed wounds of 9/11/01 that we all know so well. Why not move it to about a mile? I'm not sure but this Cordoba Initiative, should be investigated on funding and whether or not it supports terrorism or not.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:06 pm |
  14. fozes

    Unbelivebale! I am sorry for the peace-seekers muslims, but they have to understand that ground zero is not the place for a mosque to be built. Ground zero is a sacred place where Americans remember and honour the victims of tmuslim terrorism.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:06 pm |
  15. Thomas

    What is wrong with them building a mosque. Islam is not the real enemy. Look behind the curtain and you will see the real enemy. Wake up America! We in these problems because we invaded these folks land looking for oil. Now, america said F you. We not sharing the oil profits. We gone give it to the oil man so he can have nice homes on Kirby Drive, Memorial, Tanglewood, The Woodlands, Cypress, Spring, and River Oaks. Give it to him so he can divulge in his arrogance and shop at the galleria on westheimer. Never mind the lives you destroy. Now, this does not apply to all oil men. However, 9/11 was hogwash.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
    • fozes

      Thomas, there is nothing wrong with building a mosque... just dont build it at ground zero!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      August 3, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
  16. Jack Kegley

    I wish that CNN and others would get it right. They are building a Cultural Center that will contain a small Mosque among other things and it is not at Ground Zero it is two New York blocks away (You cannot even see Ground Zero from that location). By heading the article Ground Zero Mosque ..., you inflame unneeded anger and resentment. State the correct situation and calm some of the hysteria. makes a good headline but misstates the facts.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
  17. Gayorge

    What an outrage and insult to us all – follow this at aclj dot org

    August 3, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
  18. NAIDU

    Yes, Can i ask those so called modern Muslims, Can i rent a room in that building to kill pigs there and prepare fresh ham burgers for visitors? If yes, then they can build mosque no problem? I am from INDIA, I have seen all those tactics. America's problems just started. Next they want to implement sharia" law on US soil because they are different than rest of the country, after that vote bank politics can get in. Look at INDIA the terrorist who captured in Mumbai attacks and another one responsible for parliament attack are getting very good treating from the govt but those police who killed one anti national element called soibuddien in Gujarat are in jail. It is just because ruling party is playing for Muslim votes. Same thing will be repeated here in US if you keep allowing these type of mosques. Be careful my dear Fellow Americans.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
    • charles2

      Right, because Hindus are so peaceful and loving they never lifted a hand to Indian muslims.

      August 3, 2010 at 1:57 pm |
    • student


      August 3, 2010 at 3:20 pm |
    • Nk

      Right on NNAIDU. This is what happens when they start playing vote bank politics.

      August 3, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
  19. RC Cola

    I don't begrudge the right of this group to build the mosque. But seems to me, if I was their consultant, that the best bridge-building step they could take for now is to move the building site a few blocks away as some of the families have requested. That would truly show good faith and sensitivity to the families who lost loved ones. You might be in the legal "right" to build near the WTC, but that doesn't make it wise.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:04 pm |
  20. Bill

    Oh great. Here we go again. Since it will next to impossible to get explosives into whatever building is built on Ground Zero, the have now set up next door. They will filter tons of explosives into the "Mosque" gag, gag and then explode that building which in turn will take down whatever we rebuilt. All beacuse we do not have the balls to say no to the muslims. Glad I moved out of NY.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:03 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.