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. cf

    So many ignorant people here. Just because someone is a religion other than Christianity does not mean they are evil or "not one of us" or "taking our country away." You should all be ashamed of yourselves. In a free country, they have the right to build their mosque on any area that they have legally obtained. Don't like it? Tough. Those of us who are not Christian have to deal with you guys all the time, but we tolerated it. We don't tell you that you can't build a church on the land that you obtained. The freedoms of our country aren't just for you Christians, you know. They are for every citizen, even those who openly practice their freedom of religious choice. So much ignorance and hatred coming from you guys, this is a perfect example of why I am not a Christian.

    August 3, 2010 at 5:06 pm |
  2. Embarrassing.

    Is this a joke? A mosque at ground zero?... what? who?...

    This is so disrespectful to the victims of 911 and their familys.

    August 3, 2010 at 5:06 pm |
  3. Scott

    I have but one question for people to contemplate. Just a thought. Suppose, hypothetically that 9/11 had been carried out not by radical Muslims, but instead, were carried out by radical Christians. Hypothetically! Would you object if Christians wanted to build a rec center/megachurch (in lieu of the recreation center/mosque) in the same place, that close to Ground Zero? Why or why not? Would it make any difference?

    August 3, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
  4. Reuben

    The constitution guarantees freedom of worship. But FBI needs to look into Cordoba group membership, background and funding. Before he was arrested, Najibullah Zazi insisted for days on Denver TV that he would never do anything to harm this country, which had given him so much. He said he loved this country. He lied through his teeth.

    August 3, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
  5. McCluck

    Here is an idea, lets justify our christian hate of muslims by calling them all terrorists and treating all of them the same as the extremists. I guess all you christians are just like Fred Phelps since we are lumping people in to a single category. I dont want a mosque in our country either since the muslims have even worse extremism than our christians. But you cant justify denying this mosque or you throw everything the consitution says out the window. If i tried to give you 100 apples to bring into your house but informed you that 1 or so is poisonous and plotting to kill you while taking advantage of your hospitality and freedom you wouldnt want all those apples in your house...Thats why i dont like the muslim religion in general. Nothing we can do, however, since we cannot lump people into a single category and deny them rights based on the crazies. At least extremist christians are usually just annoying...lol

    August 3, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
  6. Mike Payne

    It is not only 9/11 that disgusts me about Muslims and Islam and Sharia Law)

    What other religion IN _ T H E _ 2 1 s t _ C E N T U R Y "considers" "whether or not"
    to stone a woman to death for adultery. (that law also includes men – but it is never applied to them) .

    Forces women to hide their faces and bodies, while the men
    walk around however they please.

    Imprisons women for B E I N G gang-raped.

    Executes homosexuals.

    One of you Proud Muslims answer that!!

    August 3, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
  7. Mike

    JustSoyouknow.....Islam is as peaceful a religion as Christianity.....when was the last time a Christian walked into a crowded area and blow themselves up?

    August 3, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
    • Jayrock

      1995 Timothy Mcveigh, even though he didn't blow himself up he blew up a part of America.

      August 3, 2010 at 5:06 pm |
  8. Mike

    We are losing our country...we need to stand together and get it back!

    August 3, 2010 at 4:57 pm |
    • Ken

      If you think an ethnically and religiously free country is not America, then perhaps it was never "yours" to begin with.

      August 3, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
    • tolerant

      Chicken Little! Poor You! The Muslims are a very tiny minority in America and will remain so for another 2-3 thousands of years even if they start producing babies like the Mormons.

      August 3, 2010 at 6:04 pm |
  9. Real New Yorker

    What a sad group of people. As was stated in earlier posts and ignored is: It is already a muslim prayer site, it was uninamimously approved by the community board, it is a community center with a prayer room, similar to a YMCA. The decision today was strictly related to whether the current building is a historic landmark, the site is not at ground zero and even if it was it would still have gotten the approval of the community board. Thank God, or Allah that New Yorkers are intelligent, tolerant, freedom of religion loving people, unlike most of the country that seemingly wants the government to dictate which kinds of people can be where and build what and love to shred the constitution when they don't agree with things. As a New Yorker I would love to outlaw your strip malls and souless sub-divisions, but your communities decided that these are the things you value, so let us have our tolerance and open mindedness and our density and our multiculturalism and our big buildings. Lower manhattan is our neighborhood, not your metaphor.

    August 3, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
  10. JustSoYaKnow

    JT, it does NOT say 'kill the Christians and Jews wherever you find them'. That's an aberation of a quote intentionally mistranslated, and taken completely out of context. There are several quotes that are intended to be about self defense against areas where the young Muslim religion was not tolerated, which was common back in the 7th century, so on. The Bible had those kinds of passages as well, and several parts of the Old Testament can be put in a very negative context, which have been over this forum already. Islam is as peaceful a religion as Christianity, as notted by the comments by tolerance and CommonSense, and I beseech folks to hit their ctrl-F (find functions) and read their posts to get some good updated info on it. Umma has good info on Cordoba as well; being Spanish I took great pride in this part of our history.

    August 3, 2010 at 4:55 pm |
    • Jayrock

      I love the fact that most people here against the Muslim faith have done no Theology whatsoever and are just following the general mood of what their news station is given to them. I love how they don't understand that there are in fact teachings of violence within the Quran that pertain directly to war, which does make sense seeing that the time the Quran written Prophet Mohammad and his followers had a huge threat of war and takeover by surrounding states. The violence and teaching were needed for him and his people at that time to fend off attacks. Now, if anyone knew even an ounce of the Muslim religion knows that it has not been re-written or transformed, and the act of putting the book together was a process of verifying teachings from various people who remembered the teachings by heart since things were done by word of mouth back then. The teachings had to be verified by 2 times by other people who remembered the teachings by heart. A book that has stayed around so long and has not been revised to suit the powers to be is amazing and a true testament to their faith in God.

      Funny thing is I can open up the Bible and find verses within that pertain to violence and committing acts of violence towards their fellow man. Only thing is the Bible has gone though revisions throughout history.....so with all these revisions why do you guys still preach violence in your own book?

      August 3, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  11. Chris

    "if i were in charge, i would put several cia and fbi undercover informants in every mosque in the usa and abroad...then i would gather all the information i would ever need to imprision the radicle sobs."

    and if i were you I'd consider brushing up on my spelling..

    I'm a New Yorker, born and bred, lost good friends on 9/11. I see this as an ultimate sign of our open-mindedness and a pretty good example of the message we are trying to convey in Iraq and Afghanistan. Besides, this is completely 100% legal, just as the strip club 2 blocks down from it is. This country was not founded on "Christian beliefs" it was founded on secular beliefs. People seem to think the pilgrims were the first "tired and oppressed" peoples to come to the New World; the were not. They were among many other groups who came here to start a new life, hence it is seen in our diversity as a people.

    August 3, 2010 at 4:55 pm |
  12. cf

    Timothy McVeigh was Christian, so there better not be any Christian churches anywhere near the Oklahoma City federal building he bombed, or that will just be honoring his extremist religious terrorism.

    August 3, 2010 at 4:55 pm |
  13. Oreo

    People don't care if they build their mosque. But the issue at hand here is out of all the place to's build a mosque, they pick a place right down from Ground Zero knowing how sensitive it would be to the families. And to top it off they plan to open it on the 10th anniversary of 9/11?! What a slap in the face.

    August 3, 2010 at 4:53 pm |
    • Facts

      It is already a mosque. The building owners want to improve their own private property.

      August 3, 2010 at 4:57 pm |
    • tolerant

      About 10% of the victims in NY on 911 were Muslims and many Muslims participated in the rescue work after the evil acts of 911.

      It's not a mosque, it's a center. The group is now talking about building places of worship for members of other faiths in that building too.

      This issue has brought people's hatred and prejudices out in the open.

      August 3, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
    • Facts

      tolerant: I said that it is a mosque in the sense that prayer and Jumma are already performed in the building. It is currently (and has been for ten years) offering the services of a mosque, although in a way that no one seems to be aware of.

      Suddenly there is outrage against a "mosque being built" when in reality it is being extended to open up to non-Islamic members of the community. Amazing how such a well meaning act can be looked at like an insult.

      Furthermore, if the owners want their facility to look better than a run down old building then they should be able to, regardless of this whole issue of religion.

      August 3, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  14. samma

    we are either defined by the rule of law and the constitution of the United States of America or we are not. There is no middle ground. The death worshiping fascists who attacked the towers are to Islam what the Klan is to Christianity. We let the law deal with those freaks, and we have a law that protects the rights of us all. Looking at some of these posts it appears the Klan is still around.

    August 3, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
  15. KurtM

    I dont understand why everyone keeps saying "Freedom of religion" when we have to stop saying the pledge of allegiance in class because its has the phrase "under god"?
    I'm sorry if it were up to me they would not be able to build so close to 911 its a respect thing.

    August 3, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
    • Ken


      I think you misunderstand. The pledge is not prohibited from school nor is the phrase "under god". (see recent 9th Circuit ruling on "Newdow vs Rio Linda Union School District").
      If I understand correctly, children cannot be forced to recite the pledge or the words "under god", but the school is not prohibited from reciting it as an institutional practice.

      Why muddy the waters with this anyway? This Center in NYC has nothing to do with reciting the pledge.

      August 3, 2010 at 5:04 pm |
    • cf

      That is a myth. Nobody is "not allowed" to say the pledge of alligiance.
      And if you are only against the building of a mosque because it is "so close" to ground zero, where do you supposed they should build it? It's not right ON ground zero, you know; it's two blocks away. Would three blocks away be far enough? "No, that's only one more than 2," you would say. How about four? Five?
      They're already on their own private property, so tell me why you think they can't use it?

      August 3, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
    • EW

      Ummmmm.... because not everyone believes in God. Freedom of religion includes freedom of lack of religion as well.

      August 3, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  16. Teegyeff

    This debate shows how hypocritical the supposedly constitution-loving right wing is in this country. As I understand it, the Constitution of the United States protects both freedom of worship and people to do what they wish with their private property. Yet here are the right wing types yelling because they want the GOVERNMENT of NYC to step-in and interfere with these people’s right to worship and do what they wish with their own private property. Notice, too, that most New Yorkers have said absolutely NOTHING against this mosque being built, and Mayor Bloomberg has come out in support of it. The right wing cares nothing about NYC, the victims who died on 9/11 or the Constitution. They just want to turn this country into a Christian version of Iran.

    August 3, 2010 at 4:51 pm |
  17. Monika

    I knew this would happen,,only in AMERICA!!!

    If something tragic happened like 9/11 in Europe,,they wouldn't allow a building like this to be built.

    No matter what,,,USA isn't safe. Never has,,,never will be!!!

    August 3, 2010 at 4:49 pm |
  18. Delanooch

    Get that mosque outta here. Are they serious?

    August 3, 2010 at 4:48 pm |
  19. peculiar

    If Islam is peaceful religion, why is that Christians are treated badly (killed) in Islamic nations?

    August 3, 2010 at 4:46 pm |
    • Jayrock

      Well the same question could be asked about Christianity....EASILLY

      August 3, 2010 at 4:50 pm |
    • peculiar

      Treatment I would get if I pass out Bibles in islamic nations is a far different than Muslims passing out Koran in the U.S. Wouldn't you agree? It would be life or death situation. What's the definition of "peace" in Islam?

      August 3, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
    • Facts


      Show me a country where Christians are treated like this and I will show you a country that is governed by superstition and outdated tradition just as much, if not more so, than Islam.

      Iran has less then 2% Jewish and Christian population, but they have representation in Parliament. It also hosts the largest Jewish population in any Muslim nation (25,000). There are an estimated 600 churches serving about 200,000 Christians in combined denominations.

      2.8 million Christians live in Pakistan.

      At least 10% of Egypt is Christian, with 200,000 of them following Protestant (western) Christianity.

      August 3, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
    • Jayrock

      Passing out Bibles to the local populace doesn't work when you are passing out Bibles while following an armored division and air strikes. Let's forget about that though. So...you want to stoop down to the level of these "heathen" Muslims and not let them practice freely in our great free country. The same freedom that has advanced ourselves and the world to the point of where we are today? Get over yourselves already.

      August 3, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
    • Jayrock

      Or maybe they still have a sour taste in their mouths from the Crusades, when those peaceful Christians tried peacefully to take over "The Holy City" I don't know....but to say that Christianity has a higher standard of being peaceful is just hilarious. Christian teachings are full of hate and misunderstanding. Hell I'm neither Christian or Muslim. I believe in my own connection with God. Not the faux pas connection major religions bring. If you put me in a room with self rightious aholes from both religions, they would hate me equally. After all if I don't accept your Jesus as my savior I'm going to hell no matter all the good I've done for humanity in my mortal life. Am I right?

      August 3, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
    • EW

      @peculiar... That's what makes America great. You can do that without fear of legal persecution. Persecution by right wing zealots is another matter all together though.

      August 3, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
    • peculiar

      I understand that you don't care much about Christianity, but so far you haven't answered my question in your reply. Are Islam a religion of "peace"?

      August 3, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
    • EW

      I don't think there is such a thing as a "religion of peace".

      August 3, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
    • Jayrock

      Listen buddy...if you think that Christianity is in any way a peaceful religion you need to do some more Theology. Or pick up your own damn teachings read and ingest it. I'm saying Muslim as a peaceful religion is at the same rung in the latter as Christianity.

      August 3, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
    • Jayrock

      Answer me this? How many souls suffered through torture and death for you to be able to practice Christianity today? The answer is you can't put a number on it. Too many have have suffered under the name of Christianity. It was spread through violence and used as a system to control the populace by the power that were. If violence was not linked to Christianity then you would not be practicing it today, let alone even know what Christianity was.

      August 3, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  20. dr.zor

    YES! Finally there is still Freedom in this country.... We are american muslims over 7 million of us we have rights as much as any american. u wanna build a church in saudia go ask them not us.

    August 3, 2010 at 4:45 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57
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.