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. 11B

    Let's move an indoor shooting range right next door to the mosque. It's my right, right?

    August 3, 2010 at 3:32 pm |
    • Anonymous

      Not even sure what you are trying to imply, but you'd probably have NYC gun laws to deal with.

      August 3, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
  2. Cam

    Look at the bright side, we can pay them back right where they hit us.

    August 3, 2010 at 3:32 pm |
  3. Jon

    I really believe that allowing them to build this will send a powerful message to the rest of the world, that the US is still about freedom for all, whether religious or otherwise. It makes a clear statement that we aren't vindictive, that we don't hold grudges, that we've moved on, that we're still looking forward.

    August 3, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
    • Reality


      This is the message NYC and the USA should send:

      What drove the terror attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon? The koran, Mohammed's book of death for all infidels and Muslim domination of the world by any means. Muslims must clean up this book removing said passages admitting that they are based on the Gabriel myth and therefore obviously the hallucinations and/or lies of Mohammed. Then we can talk about the location of mosques and what is taught therein. Until then, no male Muslim can be trusted anytime or anywhere!!!!

      August 3, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
  4. jinn

    I wasn't in favor of this mosque being built. In fact, I think Islam is a cult of hate. However, I now actually like that this vote went in favor of the mosque, because I know Muslims around the world hate our freedoms and our life of democracy, but at the same time, they were looking for a new excuse to attack and insult us and surely expected the mosque to get voted down.

    August 3, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
  5. Chicago Ray

    this is such a slap in the face of the victims first and foremost not to mention the living victims. If this Mosque is built America has become a joke.

    This is beyond a travesty and were I rich enough I'd buy it take it down and build a memorial to the victims not a fort for the killers next strike, but I can't . What can be done is that every politician who's fingerprints are on it should be taken to the 'political stake' and removed forever from politics. They have no business telling the rest of us what to do so it's gonna have to be done through other means.

    New Yorkers please do not allow it.

    August 3, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
    • Ben

      It is a slap in the face to all human decency that bigots such as you are in such large numbers as to make this even an issue.

      This is the "Land of the Free" (TM), not some land where capricious laws rule. Everything you say implies Islam is inherently violent, which is utterly ignorant of reality.

      You are not intellectually qualified to have a valid opinion on this subject.

      August 3, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
  6. c3pjoe

    Think about our soldiers morale hearing about this!!!

    August 3, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
  7. Rob

    A mosque is necessary at ground zero to demonstrate the superiority of Islam over the whole earth. You may not realize this, but Muslims do. On the temple mount in Jerusalem, Muslims have erected a momument to suicide bombers within the 500 cubits by 500 cubits Holy area, and also has an office for the distribution of money ($50,000) to the families of suicide bombers, not to mention at least 5 minurets towering over the temple mount area. They are demonstrating their superiority over the God of Israel. And Israel let them do it. Is New York any different? I think not.

    August 3, 2010 at 3:29 pm |
    • Ben

      Maybe they are building it to serve the Muslim community that lives and works there as fellow Americans? No no no, that isn't possible.

      You disgust me, you bigot.

      August 3, 2010 at 3:32 pm |
  8. Will

    As an ex-New Yorker I am appalled that the city would let this tragedy happen. I travel often to NYC, but I for one will no longer spend another dime in NYC until this group of "leaders" are run out of office.

    August 3, 2010 at 3:29 pm |
  9. iPaki

    That's precisely why I love America. Something like that would be un-imaginable in any other country.

    August 3, 2010 at 3:28 pm |
  10. O'Rielly

    So let's assume for a moment that there is no mosque on one of the floors for this torn down buidling which is almost 3 block away from the site. By the way, you cannot see this buidling from ground zero. You have to walk two blocks and then turn to actually see this building. What would be the best use of this building. I think we have a flawed argument here...Are we saying that we should not allow any mosque in US or are we saying no to mosque 3 blocks away from ground zero..

    August 3, 2010 at 3:28 pm |
  11. Scott

    Great post, Ben. This us vs. them mentality is bad for everyone – liberals, conservatives, humans. Allowing this mosque to proceed says volumes about our country and our rule of law. Anyone who thinks this is an insult is simply not educated enough to truly appreciate their own country and instead wish to demonize anyone who disagrees with them.

    August 3, 2010 at 3:28 pm |
  12. American Tuareg

    There are already over 100 mosques in NYC - the argument has nothing to do with religious freedom, and everything to do "location" - erecting a monument to the Islamic 'martyrs' that attacked us on 9/11. Those terrorists are regarded as heroes throughout the Muslim world, and that mosque is being erected for the sole purpose of honoring those 'heroes'. So, how much did they pay you Mayor Bloomberg? What does an American soul sell for these days?

    August 3, 2010 at 3:28 pm |
    • Scott

      You're just wrong. The majority of Muslims do not idolize the 911 hijackers and instead want peaceful coexistence. You're obviously watching way to much Fox news.

      August 3, 2010 at 3:33 pm |
    • DAT67

      Sorry Scott, YOU are wrong. It may not be a monument to the "martyrs", but it IS just about as "in your face" inconsiderate as they can get.

      August 3, 2010 at 4:29 pm |
  13. Melanie

    Well, now I am forced to boycott New York. I will never visit, never buy merchandise from there, or support anything to do with the place. I hate being forced to do this, but there is no possible reason why this should ever be allowed. It is sick, inhumane, and outright disgusting. I would also imagine the new building will end up blown up because of this and more people will die. Ever consider that? This is not a site to "build bridges" on, but to remember and reflect. We've sunk to a new low as a nation.

    August 3, 2010 at 3:27 pm |
    • Ben

      The only source of anger and violence in this situation is sourced from bigots like yourself. You create a self fulfilling prophecy.

      August 3, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
    • Chicago Ray

      Don' t listen to the name caller Melanie....were you even talking to him? I doubt it. He's gone down the whole board calling everyone a bigot so he must be a Muslim plant because I would shudder to think an American can be so useful and willing to be the town imbecile, ya know?

      August 3, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
    • Ben

      Would you be offended if I called you "Chicago Ray"? No, and "idiot" is a synonym of that, it is reality, so why does it offend you?

      You need to come to terms with your inferiority and start by reading up on what the Dunning-Kruger effect is. If you're so sure I'm wrong you should have no problem reading it, if you're capable of understanding what it even means, that is.

      You are fundamentally uninformed on the reality of the situation you're describing yet espouse such hate like you are sure of yourselves.

      August 3, 2010 at 3:44 pm |
    • EW

      That'll show 'em! You should boycott every other city and/or state that has a mosque too!

      August 3, 2010 at 4:45 pm |
  14. John Wayne is dead

    I stand here today a veteran of the gulf war and I ashamed to call myself an American. Through out history mosque have been built at conquered sites as a symbol of victory over the infidels. Mosques built mosques at Mecca, Jerusalem, Damascus where they built their Ummayed Mosque over the Church of Saint John. Conquered Cordoba, they took the cathedral and turned it into a mosque..Orthodox Cathedral of Constantinople (Hagia Sophia) they turned the church into a mosque writing verses of the koran and painting over images of Christ..the same has been done over Hindu temples and shrines. Get a clue sheep.

    August 3, 2010 at 3:27 pm |
  15. dave

    muslims and gays- always crying that everyone need to embrace them. someone will burn the place down eventually.

    August 3, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
    • Ben

      Why are you lying? Muslims and Gays do not cry about that, they just want to be treated the same way you are treated. Would anyone have a problem if YOU tried to build a building in New York City near where WTC was? No.

      I know why you have to lie, it is because when the truth is out you have no real valid opinion. You're just a vapid vessel to be filled with the opinions of conservative pundits and shysters who will inflame your emotion so you keep watching and hearing their advertisers.

      You are an inferior specimen in our species and you will not improve this until you recognize this as truth.

      August 3, 2010 at 3:29 pm |
    • Jonathan

      Wow. Bigotry at its finest. You actually found a way to put down two completely unrelated things in one sentence.

      August 3, 2010 at 3:32 pm |
    • Syed

      You guys really believe everything you write? seriously. I am a muslim and I hated the 9/11 incident. I felt bad about the human loss. I seriously believe those guys were going against the teaching of Islam. There is too much hatred in this world and really we need to get along before things really go out of control.

      August 3, 2010 at 3:46 pm |
  16. Ben

    When you people say things like "liberalism at its finest, the destruction from within started a years ago." do you even understand what that implies?

    That implies we are aggressors, invaders, threats to freedom. You KNOW that in this country we have a long record of dying for (and more specifically KILLING FOR) our freedoms. And you accuse us of somehow impinging on them? And then you throw this thinly veiled threat at us?

    If you want to know who is the greatest threat to freedom it is those who would call your fellow countrymen your enemy because you disagree with them or are simply so incompetent that you are unable to perceive why your opinion is invalid.

    August 3, 2010 at 3:24 pm |
    • Scott

      Great post, Ben. This us vs. them mentality is bad for everyone – liberals, conservatives, humans. Allowing this mosque to proceed says volumes about our country and our rule of law. Anyone who thinks this is an insult is simply not educated enough to truly appreciate their own country and instead wish to demonize anyone who disagrees with them.

      August 3, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
  17. Syed

    fanatics psychos did the 9/11 act. they do not represent Islam. But I think most people here like to hate

    August 3, 2010 at 3:21 pm |
    • Ben

      They also ignore the fact that they entered into the country legally and were trained by our very own CIA in the 80's.

      August 3, 2010 at 3:26 pm |
  18. Karam

    You can not assume that if someone is Muslim that they are from another country (I was born in Cali and have never left this country I am Muslim and I and in the US Air Force) , I'm personnally glad to see healthy debate rather than hatred posts, but I do agree that if they win the vote they should try to make it look as awsome as possible. It would be nice to have some "oveseas" arcitecture here in America for once, plus NYC is known for being so diverse it would be awsome to see something different.

    August 3, 2010 at 3:21 pm |
  19. BABA


    August 3, 2010 at 3:21 pm |
  20. Jonathan

    I think it's funny how conservatives are constantly touting the rule of law and then as is apparent on a lot of comments try to ignore it when they don't like it. I'm having difficulty understanding how the decision of the committee was a liberal one. Let's be honest about this hypocrites, had this not been a mosque they are trying to put up but rather a corporate office of some kind you'd be calling them liberals if they had decided it was historic and the office couldn't be built. But since this is a mosque you want them to call it historic.

    The facts are plain and simple. They are not conservative or liberal. The building did not meet the conditions required to be considered a historic landmark. I'm sure they would have done it if they could. Now quit being hypocrites and trying to blame liberalism when what these people really did was the most conservative thing possible and that was follow the rules!

    August 3, 2010 at 3:20 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.