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. Amanda Huggingkiss

    I think its ok to build the Mosque as long as they decorate it nicely for Christmas!

    August 3, 2010 at 2:48 pm |
  2. shooa01

    I have nothing against musilms or any religion for that matter, but why Mosque? See! i have feeling that Osama and his followers will take advantage of this and turn it to victory.. why not build something has nothing to do with religion?

    August 3, 2010 at 2:48 pm |
  3. bobby5oh

    To Common Sense, you make no sense. Perhaps you should get an education yourself.

    "Islam is the only religion that does not condemn people to Hell for not being Muslim (God will judge based on how one lives ones life – not on labels). People might, but the religion does not. There is NO compulsion in religion, according to Islam. Christianity however, does claim that if you don't belive in the divinity of Christ and do not accept him as your 'savior' you will go to hell. At least the people say so, Jesus never said anything of the sort.

    For those who just want to hurl insults out of fear and prejudice, please do not respond to my comments.

    May the God of the Torah, Bible and Quran guide those who sincerely seek success in this world and hereafter. Ameen."

    It's up to God to choose who he saves or not. Christianity says through Christ you will be saved. Do your homework Christians have been tortured and persecuted by the Romans and others. I don't see any Saints who were great warriors or warriors at all let alone for killing children. There is no where in the Christian New Testament where it says being a suicide bomber will get you to heaven. It says do good to your enemy. The only thing from the Muslim world is become Muslim or Die. I don't know what is in your Koran but you people need to get your act together.

    August 3, 2010 at 2:47 pm |
  4. ProudMuslim


    U WANT to c peace in the middle east?

    take out the american troops first, and ull c peace like never b4.

    August 3, 2010 at 2:47 pm |
  5. rimjim

    The primary argument in favor of construction of the mosque, of course, is that it is a matter of religious freedom. We are endlessly told that if Muslims are denied permission to build this mega-mosque at Ground Zero, the door will be opened to the denial of the construction of synagogues and churches elsewhere. That argument advances in ignorance of the political and supremacist character of Islamic law, qualities that have no parallel in Jewish or Christian doctrine, but even aside from that, the question of this mosque is not actually a religious freedom issue.

    Why not? Because opponents of the mosque, be they SIOA, or Palin, or Giuliani, or Gingrich, or anyone else, are not talking about banning mosques altogether. I do believe that mosques connected with the Saudis and/or the Muslim Brotherhood warrant careful scrutiny from law enforcement, but no one who is in the front line of the opposition to the mega-mosque at Ground Zero is calling for all mosques to be closed or for a ban on the construction of new mosques. And unless the property is marked as a war memorial, as it should be but will not be, no one is even calling for the expulsion of the Muslims who are currently praying in the existing former Burlington Coat Factory building at 45 Park Place; the Burlington Coat Factory is not a thirteen-story triumphal mega-mosque.

    The question is, does the First Amendment really give every religious group the right to construct a house of worship wherever it wishes to do so? Is there never an occasion in which a location might be inappropriate? Many people have likened the construction of the mega-mosque at Ground Zero to the construction of a shrine to the kamikazes at Pearl Harbor or of a statue of Hitler outside the Auschwitz gates. Would the KKK be greenlighted to build a "reconciliation center" on the site of the 16th St. Baptist Church, as this parody has it? (Others have rejected these comparisons based on the claim that the Cordoba Initiative leaders are "moderate" Muslims who hold to a radically different point of view from that of the Muslims who took down the Twin Towers on 9/11, but the Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's record of deceit and advocacy of Sharia should be enough to establish that that argument is fallacious. And of course they'll be reading from the same Qur'an that inspired the 9/11 attacks; there is no "reformed" version.) The question is, if the shrine to the kamikazes were sponsored by a religious group, or Auschwitz were subject to First Amendment law, would there be no stopping the building of such things?

    I expect there would be a way to stop such construction, and that many people who are saying today that this mosque is a religious freedom issue would be calling for the construction to be stopped. The U.S. Government outlawed Mormon polygamy in the nineteenth century; considerations of religious freedom were not considered absolute. And today, government agencies do not hesitate to put roadblocks in the way of the construction of houses of worship - at least non-Islamic ones.

    In any case, it seems clear that no one assumes that any religious group has an absolute right to build a house of worship wherever it wants, except in this case. But once this mega-mosque is built, if it is, I expect that many who today are anxious to prove their multiculturalist, non-"bigoted" bona fides will rue the day.
    [from JihadWatchDOTorg]

    August 3, 2010 at 2:47 pm |
    • Peacemaker

      First of all, thank you for your intelligent comment. Though I may not agree with you, I do appreciate an opposing view that is intelligent and respectful. The problem as I see it is, that any other worship space would be welcomed near Ground Zero, the objection is to a Mosque. Why? Because Muslims will worship there. Period. It is clear to me, a Roman Catholic, that Muslims are being ever so subtly persecuted in the name of September 11th. We can not discriminate against any religious group, for IF we do we will be heading down a very dangerous path. No, sir, I will not rue the day the Mosque was built. The Freedom to worship is one of our dearest freedoms, we can not discriminate, it goes against everything our Nation stands for. And one more thing........ have people not forgiven? Will we hate Muslims, all Muslims because of what a few did on 9/11? If so, shame on us!

      August 3, 2010 at 3:27 pm |
  6. super1

    I say an eye for an eye...vinidicate 9/11 victims.

    August 3, 2010 at 2:47 pm |
  7. Anti-Islam

    Send them all to Mecca to live. Then they can blow each other up. That way they'll get to murder people (each other) like they enjoy doing and the U.S. can spend less money on its military. Everybody wins!

    August 3, 2010 at 2:46 pm |
    • KING

      Sure, and send all the Christians back to Bethlehem. No? How about back to Jerusalem? Send 'em all to Rome and let 'em be Catholics, and never tell me it isn't fair.

      August 3, 2010 at 3:00 pm |
  8. CSnord

    Islam gains a little more of a foothold in America. In 50 years, everyone living here will be praying to Mecca. Eventually, your options will be to convert to Islam or die. Muslims don't tolerate half measures.

    August 3, 2010 at 2:46 pm |
    • KING

      That's one of the dumbest things I've ever heard. Are you an actual moron, or trying to be funny?

      August 3, 2010 at 3:01 pm |
    • CSnord

      @KING - you need to learn something about the history of Islam and the impact it has had on other countries like Egypt and Malaysia. My comment won't look so stupid when you are less ignorant.

      August 3, 2010 at 4:09 pm |
  9. Ana

    Ok, I will speak VERY SLOWLY and CONCISELY so you liberals can understand this once and for all. NO ONE IS SAYING they DON'T have the RIGHT to build a mosque in this area. ( at least most aren't ). Yes, they have every god-given right to build and worship where they want to. Good for them !!!! YEAH YEAH YEAH !!!! GOODY GOODY !!

    Yes, religious freedom. WE GET IT. Yes, the terrorists were not representative of all muslims. YEAH, we get that, too !
    There is something much more important at stake here and that's the appareant insensitivity of this group of people. You see, the West is constantly being reprimanded that we are NOT sensitive enough to muslim groups. They issue death threats when someone draws a caricature of Mohammed Yeah, they tend to be pretty sensitive. We hear constantly that we should be careful not to hurt their feelings.

    Yet, in this case where the reverse has come up ( whether they agree with it, or not, does not matter ), they can only scream about their rights to build. There is no attempt on their part to acknowledge our feelings of 9/11. And true to their idiotic nature, the liberal sheeple follow, supporting their 'rights.' Except this is not so much about rights, as it is about sensitivity. And so we go around, and around. The liberals just don't get it...I think they also lack the sensitivity to understand people who feel differently, which is why they are constantly denigrating those of us who oppose the mosque, stating we are all hateful, ignorant, gun-toting, racist and Islamophobic morons. Kettle, meet pot.

    August 3, 2010 at 2:43 pm |
  10. Annexian

    Come on, watch Zeitgeist. It's clearly not Islamics that did 9/11, it was businessmen in combination with a NeoCon agenda that demolished the towers. Wall Street should be the thing we are offended is near ground zero.

    August 3, 2010 at 2:43 pm |
  11. Juan Del Pueblo

    This makes my blood boil... But I will sleep OK at night because I know this will be dealt in kind... Hopefully those idiots that allowed this to happen in NY wont be able to sleep at night once they show on the media the Muslim celebrations on yet another religious victory against the US

    August 3, 2010 at 2:41 pm |
  12. No, no, no

    There's nothing I would enjoy more than unzipping my fly, and taking a nice pi$$ right in Mecca by that big black stone they all go around. Nasty sand people

    August 3, 2010 at 2:40 pm |
    • Wawaweewa

      No,no,no- Your mama must be so proud that she reared an Einstein. Racist p1g...

      August 3, 2010 at 2:45 pm |
  13. Ted

    GabeK, this Mosque has NOTHING to do with the terrorists who attacked us.
    It's not to honor them in any way.
    In fact, that building already has a Muslim Prayer room which they have been using for some time.
    It's not "new" for Muslims to use it.

    August 3, 2010 at 2:40 pm |
  14. Cade

    Actually Misconception according to the new testemant Jesus Is THE Diety, he IS GOD big "G" jesus says before abram was "I AM" in refrence to moses' ecounter with the burning bush. Not to mention all the other refrences to his Diety in the new testament. Now I know the Kur' an, talks about Jesus, it denies his diety though, the cross, and his resurection. The Kur' ans version is not the same as the new testaments or the prophecy of the messiah in the old, see psalm 22. Now you can continually try to make your point using the kur' an, but you have to look at ours as well and not inject your own bias into it. It's called being intellectually honest.

    August 3, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
  15. Simon

    People shoud react if there were going to build a Synagog, because the jews are the authors of 9/11 along with Mossad, Bush and Cheney

    August 3, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
    • das0522

      Go back to your MSNBC koolaid, moron

      August 3, 2010 at 3:48 pm |
  16. Vixil

    However, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, pray, search for me, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear [their prayer] from heaven, forgive their sins, and heal their country.

    August 3, 2010 at 2:36 pm |
  17. Ted

    Gene, the war you speak of is in your head, put there by right wing extremists.
    The Muslims are not at war with us.
    You sound psychotic.

    August 3, 2010 at 2:36 pm |
  18. SerialSpencer

    Many different people died that day, even those of the muslim religion. who are we to stop them.

    August 3, 2010 at 2:36 pm |
  19. whatodo

    I think america will be next country that fell to islam Believes

    August 3, 2010 at 2:36 pm |
  20. Kevi n

    I am a Jew and very proud of it. But the ADL can shove it in this case. I am also marring amuslim women. This Mosque and sept 11, 01 are not related at all. And if you are offended by it get a life

    August 3, 2010 at 2:34 pm |
    • CSnord

      You had better be careful when and where you travel. Your wife's life will be forfeit in many countries around the world.

      August 3, 2010 at 4:24 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.