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. Joe the programmer

    I was under the impression that this country was built on the concept of freedom of religion. It's extremely unfortunately that discriminations against Islam and Muslims is now an excepted practice in America, where mainstream media and politicians debate clear discrimination cases against Islam a religion of 1 billion people, as if there is a counter argument from the conservative racists, whom are once again are in the wrong side of justice. They just don’t get it.
    The crimes of 9/11 were committed by a small group with a political agenda and a radical religion ideology. Penalizing 1 billion people for the miss guided few is just an excuse for conservative racism and religion frantic to push their hateful agenda.

    August 3, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
    • Another Messenger

      We are not talking about a religion. We are talking about a national form of government, a totalitarian world dominating form of government. There is a difference. They disguise it to be a 'religion'.

      August 3, 2010 at 6:01 pm |
    • David Stone

      No. What makes islam SUCK is that the "one billion people" always stand by silently when the "misguided few" do these horrific and barbaric things. In every other religion the majority stands up and shouts down the freaks...not so in islam....so the majority is just as guilty for allowing it.....

      Second, islam is the sorriest excuse for a religion ever invented....with dismemberment, torture, rape, honor killings, suicide bombing for virgins, beheadings, "fatwahs", and all of the other GARBAGE encompassed in this stupid cult. It is oppressive to women, gays, other religions, and all that don't believe in sharia law. IT SUCKS.

      Third, because it is a pile of excrement calling itself a "religion", it SLITHERS in under the cracks and because of this in the end our freedom of religion may well be our undoing.

      August 3, 2010 at 6:08 pm |
  2. joe

    Islam. When you say it.. most people think of a violent, dark, intolerant religion. Not true.. well.. turth is 100% perception.

    August 3, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  3. al-Anbar

    Thank you to all the service members. A common sense statement so here we go, the hijackers were Muslim extremists (Saudi, Afghan, Yemen all Muslim Extremists with the one goal of killing Americans) which killed 2,976 innocents to die: men, women, children of all religions, creeds and nationalities. The overwhelming majority of logical thinking Americans could see the harm and pain in having a Mosque so close to the most horrific attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor,1941. Not all Muslims are bad, yes, we all know this however the greatest threat to our National Security whether you're an American Muslim or not are Muslim Extremists. Because extremists don't care who dies in a VBIED attack as long as there is blood and it makes CNN which leads extremists to have greater recruitment and credibility for future attacks. So back to my point, just move the Mosque to another neighborhood and all is well, there is no reason why it would have to be erected so close to a symbol of American history that would project such a negative message towards the men and women who fight daily and have died to protect our fellow Americans from another horrific attack on our homeland.
    I just feel the need for Americans to wake up, the threat is real, Muslim extremists want all Americans dead, everyone, so it is upon us to make sure that we protect one-another. And notice I said extremists because they are, and they are Muslim. There are no Jews, Christians, Hindu, Buddhist and minority religions that are posing a daily threat to our national security at the present time like that of Muslims. I am not being racist I am being factual. We're at war people!!!! We have 70,000 troops in Iraq and another 150,000 in Afghan with another 30,000 on the way, we have WAKE UP and vote.

    August 3, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  4. PeaceTV

    If you read Quran yourself instead of having a nut case read and interpret it for you then you will know why 99.99% of 1.6 Billion Muslims live their lives like Martin Luther King and 0.01% Muslims are like Pastor Terry Jones. I am a Muslim and have Bible and Quran sitting side by side in my home and do not care what an Imam or Pastor or Rabi or Pundit or Guru, etc. etc. say about my religion and/or others religions. When I want to know other religions, I study their books myself and it makes my faith stronger because other religions despite being thousands of years older than Islam and thousands of years apart from each other have 90% of the same teachings. How many human relatives agree with each other 90%? The fact is that, despite our differences, we are all brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of Adam and Eve seeking peace, prosperity and happiness in this and/or next life. 99.99 % of humans focus on 90% of common grounds with other humans whereas 0.01% which includes Pastor Terry Jones focus on 10% differences. I have no doubt that those who seek war, hatred and misery whether they are Imams or Pastors or Rabies or Pundits or Gurus, etc. etc. are the ones for whom God created a place called Hell. When our prophet (pbuh) was stoned out of a town called Ta'if (which he called the most bitter day of his life) for preaching worship of one God, he prayed for mercy for the people of that town. When an old woman who used to throw garbage on our prophet (pbuh) everyday, did not throw garbage on him one day, he knocked on her door to find out if she was doing Ok. Any one who preaches peace, forgiveness and mercy is my brother/sister in humanity. Those who preach hatred and kill innocent will be held accountable for their deeds regardless of their faith. Hopefully this new mosque at ground zero will help people understand those 99.99% Muslims better. Sometimes a bitter medicine is need to cure a disease. Comments on this article show that there are a lot of Americans infected by ignorance and an Islamic center at ground zero is the medicine they need to open their eyes and see with their own eyes what Islam is actually about. If some Christian priests molested children does not mean every Christian is a child molester. PEACE & LOVE FOR ALL – HATRED FOR NONE!

    August 3, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
    • Jayrock

      The thing that is most interesting to me about Muslim faith is you do not have someone who could be corrupt and evil preaching to you. You and your connection with God is your own. The Quran is a holy object that has not been revised and changed by the hands of time. It is up to you to take the positive out of the teaching. This sort of study and thinking to me, creates a better person for society then a sheep in which they are not engaging in their teaching, only listening and thinking they are ingesting.

      August 3, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
    • PeaceTV

      Well said JayRock, It is like a cell phone connection to God. When you read it you feel like you are listening directly to God and God is talking directly to you. One on One! It is amazing and more you read more in-depth the relation with God.

      August 3, 2010 at 7:03 pm |
  5. bjsquirrell

    The proposed building is a community center with a place to pray – not a mosque and not a shrine to those who participated in the tragedies on Sept. 11th. Get a grip all of you- this is still a country that allows many freedoms... there are christian churches on Indian reservations despite the fact that in the name of religious freedom we lost ours until 1978 and in spite of the fact that thousands of our children were beaten, sexually abused, and died at the hands of "good christians" and the genocide is still going on. The Muslim community is here, christians are here, jews are here, hindus are here and any number of other faiths – more blood has been shed and more suffering has been perpetuated in the name of god than for any other reason, well, it's really greed but god gets the bad rap.... use your energy and your resources to fight for issues of real importance- poverty, end the wars, find the solutions to finally end the racist fueled hatred. Time to move on people!

    August 3, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
  6. David Stone

    @tolerant...really? What other religion is waging "jihad" on non-believers? Do tell.....

    August 3, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
    • tolerant

      Over 99.9% of the American Muslims are law-abiding and living peacefully. Jihad simply means striving in Arabic and to most of the Muslims, and the biggest striving is against one's own self-ego so that it reflects the noble divine qualities of love, compassion, truth, peace, caring for others, patience, etc., until it recognizes that there is no "other-ness", and that we all have the same essential desires and needs.

      August 3, 2010 at 5:55 pm |
    • Dhulfiqar


      August 3, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
    • Jayrock

      You need to revise your statement. It is not the religion as a whole raging a Jihad against the West. It is a group of extremists who act under the banner of Islam. This is such a simple concept that I don't understand why you or any other bigoted fool cannot wrap their head around this.

      Didn't we have a group of terrorists, who made sure to be known as Christians attempt to kill our own law enforcement officers? You might have not remember this story because they were not labeled terrorists, but militants by the news. So because they weren't called terrorists by the media everyone forgets about them.

      Well the actions of this group of Christians scares the crap out of me. They had intentions of harming the heroes who keep the streets safe for us. Because of this there should be no more Christian Churches going up. All Christians are here to kill our law enforcement and cause mass mayhem within the country. No Christian can be trusted now because of this "militant" group. If they want to be cop killers under the banner of Christianity then all Christians must be cop killers.

      Sound pretty freakin dumb when you are on the bad end doesn't it?

      August 3, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
  7. avenger

    i hope some one flies a couple of planes into it,

    August 3, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
    • tolerant

      Are you promoting terrorism?

      August 3, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
  8. David Stone

    @Jayrock....last time I checked Christian leaders don't call for the death of those who depict God in a cartoon.....but of course you are so wrapped up in trying to draw an analogy the reality of the situation escapes you obviously.....I am not religious....but I am honest enough to say among all religions, only islam is STILL a barbaric murderous death cult with a "convert or DIE" policy. The other religions at least evolved out of most of this nonsense. islam is absolutely STUCK in the dark ages, and the followers seem to enjoy that lifestyle.

    August 3, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
    • tolerant

      ...only islam is STILL a barbaric murderous death cult with a "convert or DIE" policy.

      Simply not true!

      August 3, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
    • Jayrock

      I agree with you that of all religions Islam has not advanced to the modern world as others have. How would denying them a place to practice their own religion help them advance themselves into the modern era? Would you rather just tell them, no and have them move onto Christianity? Looking at Islam as a whole and seeing it as all evil is just a mistake. There are many teachings within the Quran that are truely positive and are there for man to help fellow man. There is no middleman between a person and God within Islam. Mosques exist for people to go connect with God. There is no figure at these mosques teaching ways. It is up to you alone to read the Quran and determine what in it is good or bad in modern times as the Quran has not been revised over and over throughout the years. Sure there are passages of violence within the Quran but I could prolly randomly open up the Bible and find the same teachings pertaining to violence and barbaric actions as well.

      This building was already a mosque. This new proposal was to update the veneer of the building and to expand services and open up more services to the community if they wanted to partake, especially those who are not Muslim and are curious. This particular Mosque is not shutting it's doors on the Western world. The Western world is shutting the doors for them. They are saying this is what we are, come inside...maybe you'll get something positive out of this. But we being as bigoted as we are, are saying no. We do not want to learn with you, we do not want anything to do with you. Stay in the dark ages and keep away from us....unless you want to convert to Christianity then we can be brothers.

      August 3, 2010 at 5:57 pm |
  9. the great allah mohamad cult leader

    Any church that preaches politics is not a church and should be banned. Thats the law!!!!
    I have one questiuon, the koran preaches that all muslims must fight or destroy the non believers, why do they have to do this? Why cant Allah fight his own battles and do his own killings? If he was a god, he really wouldnt need any muslum. Just goes to show allah is NOT god and he is a coward!!!! Oh oh now they have to kill me right, I spoke bad of them, Please come to MN

    August 3, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  10. Rachael

    Do you think muslims would like it if Jews blew up mecca and built a Temple there?

    August 3, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
    • Dhulfiqar

      Mecca, the Black Cube shaped building, was built by a Jew.

      August 3, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
    • tolerant

      About 10% of the victims in NY on 911 were Muslims. Many Muslims participated in the rescue effort. Have you forgotten that massive rally in Iran after 911 in support of America?

      Also, this center is not being built on Ground Zero. It's being built in place of a private building 2 blocks from it.

      August 3, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
    • George

      They won't like it, but it will happen.

      August 3, 2010 at 7:04 pm |
  11. Channe

    The reason we must allow for the building of this mosque is because we are a free nation. If we wanted to ban certain religions than we would be Saudi Arabia which we are not.

    If you love freedom, democracy, and America you MUST support the right of this mosque to be built.

    I'm not a religious person by any means, but I am an America that doesn't want the fascists on the right to turn my nation into a Christian only state. At current standing Islam is the 2nd biggest religion in America so we are not going to solve this problem by trying to push them to the fringe.

    August 3, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  12. Jayrock

    In both religions you are not supposed to present God in a physical manner....only thing is those silly Christians found a way to do it through Jesus.

    August 3, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  13. David Stone

    I enjoyed reading the posts above making excuses for the barbaric death cult called islam. Only with islam do we see LARGE organizations killing in the name of "god". Only in islam still ebraces a "convert or DIE" doctrine. Only in islamic "cultures" do you see public stonings and beheadings in front of cheering crownds. Only in islam is a female rape victim assumed to be at fault. A religion where women are not supposed to drive, get educated, talk to non-spousal males, or really even show their face in public. Only in islam do "honor killings" of "disgraceful daughters" happen daily. Every other religion stopped this sort of nonsense centuries ago, yet islam stays firmly planted in the dark ages. It is intolerant of gays, ahtiests, and other faiths, and strict adherents would just as soon see these types KILLED. Islam is an affront to freedom, tolerance, and civilization.

    If all this wasn't bad enough, the WORST thing about islam, is that the "majority / good muslims" ALWAYS stand by silently as the "misguided few" commit the most barbaric, horrendous acts in the name of the faith. In every other religion, the majority stands up and shouts down the nut cases, but in islam, they get tacit support through the silence of the majority. This above all else makes me despise this sick cult, and I hope those who read this give the subject some honest thought.

    August 3, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  14. wes

    @commonsense to pretend that the modern religions in power today were propegated by peace and tolerance is a farce. The major religions today, namely judaism, christianity, and islam, were propegated through violence and war. Intolerence is directly responsible for the numbers these religions claim. Those in power spread thier beliefs through conquering a group of people who did not believe the same thing. Basically saying, if you dont want to believe in our god then we are just going to kill you. Todays' most popular religions were driven by genocide. It is an obvious truth that parents have a direct effect on their childrens beliefs. After a generation or two these beliefs were integrated into those who had been conquered cultures. It is complete non-sense to think that any of these three religions are so massive today because of tolerance and peacefull spreading of their beliefs. Today, we are modernized and civilized enough to understand and know that genocide for whatever purpose is wrong. These religions came out of an era when genocide and war was completely acceptable means to an end. To pretend anything else you are only decieving yourself.

    August 3, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  15. the great allah mohamad cult leader

    If they open a mosque there we should open an art museum with painted pictures of allah and mohamad. I like the thought of a chevy pick up truck and a ford pick up truck side by side with the caption saying "what would allah drive" or mohamad in a toyota crashing into cars cause the brakes failed going bless you sinners. We should have a draw mohamad day on 9/12. Freedom of speach freedom of expression, and now for the big one, freedom of religion. Right next door we need the church of the flying spagetti maonster

    August 3, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  16. The Messenger

    This is the beginning of the end of the America we grew to adore. I feel sorry for the generations to come: terrorism in the streets, car bombs, sharia law replacing our constitution. We still have a few decades possibly to at least travel America and see the sites before they are torn down. I've never visited DC, definitely want to see that before they tear down the Washington monument, and so forth.

    We had a good ride as an American nation. Freedom was cool, but we've gotten greedy and near-sited to what has been happening to the rest of the world. Our freedom, that we take so carelessly for granted, will be going away soon: perhaps not this generation, or the next. But watch as our freedoms begin to disintegrate. America the beautiful will no longer be as beautiful as it used to be. At least we have memories of what it was like before we allowed our country to be taken over, from the inside out.

    August 3, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  17. zeb

    Reality. I do not condone any act of terrorism but i do not like unwanted hatred either. A true muslim nation would only fight back if attacked and it will fight bravely and fearlessly and a true muslim would never attack his enemy from the back and he won't be a true muslim either if he runs away from the battle field . The verses that u have qouted have a wider and deeper meaning than ur superficial level of understanding. A true muslim knows well the true meaning of jehad that is why he is entitled to be called a 'momin' but a stupid person or a hypocrite can be a muslim and can bring a bad name to islam. Let me declare that I condemn 9/11 and all that al qauida or talibans r doing. This is absolutely against the rules of jehad (war) laid down by Islam !

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


      Admit that the koran is based on the mythical foundations of the Gabriel fraud and that Mohammed pulled one of the great cons of humankind. Follow this with a demand for a rewrite of the koran which would contain none of the passages supposedly received from the mythical Gabriel and then get back to us infidels. Until then, the followers of this gabriel horror and terror cannot be trusted.

      August 4, 2010 at 12:39 am |
  18. Newman

    What do you expect, it's New York!!!!!!! Says a lot

    August 3, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  19. John Wayne is dead

    wow.the Anti-defamation group has come against this because it is so insensitive..This is a terrorists group that funnels money to Hamas, that is a fact and has been founded..WTH people wake up!!

    August 3, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
    • Tommy

      the Anti Defamation League is JEWISH. What do you think they are gonna want? You would think that they support religious freedom so that they can have it too. But I guess they won't want support when they are being compromised either.

      August 3, 2010 at 7:07 pm |
      • tolerant

        Let's not stereotype our Jewish brethern. See this: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-elliott/memo-to-the-anti-defamati_b_669162.html

        August 3, 2010 at 7:20 pm |
  20. Diana

    "They say there's enough religion in the world to make men hate each other, but not enough to make them love"
    -Louis Cyphre (Lucifer)/Robert De Niro in Angel Heart

    August 3, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
    • cyg

      that was awesome – good memory

      August 3, 2010 at 6:17 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.