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. German Sanchez,Jr.

    I am a 911 first responder i don't agree with Mosque to be built on a sacred ground where 3,000 American lives were lost because of Islam religion we don't need another 911 America we had too many loved one lost on this sacred ground where I worked and was on a search and rescue mission for two months so MR Mayor Bloomberg have a heart those who lost a loved on these sacred ground of 911 Ground Zero where I worked and I am sick and still getting health care from Mount Sinai 911 World Trade Center health treatment on 101 st. and Lexington ave. So Mr.Bloomberg have heart those lost there and for us men and women who served our Country on September 11,2001 and have some respect for our lost brothers and sisters who lost there lives going to work on September 11,2001. America please don't let this happen to us we suffered enough and still suffering everyday of our lives. US Marine disabled Veteran from 911 World Trade Center September 11,2001. Give Peace a chance ,give a America a chance !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Today we still have American Soldiers and Marines are dying and giving there life for the United States of America .

    August 3, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
  2. Aaron

    Well said Danish.

    August 3, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
  3. David Stone

    Right....a big conspiracy....perfectly executed, and all of those involved have been kept silent the whole decade.......ugghh

    August 3, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
  4. Jim

    If built, I don't believe it will remain standing for very long.

    August 3, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  5. Stop Islam

    A sad day indeed in America to allow to build a Mosque near Ground Zero where over 3000 peace loving Americans were murdered by followers of evil religion of Islam. What is next change name of USA to United States of Islam? John Wayne must be turning in his grave.

    August 3, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
    • David Stone

      It's a war monument, straight up....as most mosques are...monuments to martyrs.......I wills say this....if it is built, pictures of the "martyrs" of 911 should all have their pictures put up in the shrine.....seriously...that's exactly what the muslim world sees this as...don't kid yourselves.

      August 3, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
    • Jayrock

      You do realize this building was already a mosque....so...what did they conquer in the U.S. pre 9/11 to get this mosque in the city in the first place?

      August 3, 2010 at 7:02 pm |
  6. usa_fan

    Somewhere in the middle east there are celebrations going on. Wish we had people in power who would stand up for our country, our culture.

    August 3, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
    • Acaraho

      Celebrations similar to the ones in America when our government bombed the hell out of Iraq and killed innocent civilians?

      August 3, 2010 at 6:43 pm |
  7. David Stone

    I don't need to read anything about islam. This is because it is plain to see that it is the only religion which failed to evolve with time. Things like "holy war", beheading, stoning, honor killings, etc. are still part of your "faith". Any person with a pair of eyes can see what a sick, twisted, out of touch, dark ages death cult it is. Sure, the majority stands around saying "we are a religion of peace", but also stand by SILENTLY when the worst in the faith carry out the most horrendous acts in the name of that faith. The silence on the part of the "good muslims" is the most sickening aspect of islam.

    August 3, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
    • Acaraho

      So did you publicly speak out against Serbs when they killed Muslims in the name of God, did you publicly speak out against a Christian militia when they were recently arrested in the US, do you publicly speak out whenever Catholic priests are accused of molesting children? Don't accuse others of failing to do something if you don't reciprocate on your own philosophy.

      August 3, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
  8. Jimmy

    Guys let them build a mosque!

    August 3, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  9. Seriously y'all, get a grip

    To David Stone,

    Funny, but that's what they said about JFK. First a Catholic, then an Irish Catholic, then an American.

    And please read about Islam, as in something not written by a Christian or a Jew or even a Hindu. All religion is about death- going to a happy place after death (or trying to). As I recall, when asked about the Muslims who died in the attack, Bin Laden and his cronies said something along the lines of that they were Americans first and Muslims second. So which is it, Mr. Stone?

    And how do you fight extremism of any kind? How do you fight people who will kill your children and burn your homes? Obviously, as we have seen over the past 9 years in Afghanistan, we aren't doing it right. That's why I applaud General Petraeus's edict to the troops last Sunday. Let's talk, get more of the moderate Muslims on our side, and they will stand up and fight for us (which has been proven by the USAF to save lives, Mr. Stone). \

    So, it is neither black, nor white. Your God is the same as Allah, and it isn't your religion that radical Islam hates, it's our corrupt Western ways. Twenty-five years ago it would be referred to as the Cold War.

    And P.S., before you ask, no, I am not a hippie, a liberal, a yuppie, a Muslim, a tree-hugger, nor am I uneducated, un-athletic, unpatriotic, and blind to any other side than my own opinion.

    August 3, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  10. Paul

    Shame there is no sensitivity by the center not to develop the property into a mosque.
    The obvious reason is there is no respect, on any side.

    August 3, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  11. Norma Sorelle

    Thank God America woke up. We are not a Muslim Country. We are a Christian Country. Why do we need a Mosque in America at the site of a terrorist attack by people of the Muslim faith that killed so many innocent people? So we can say what..."we forgive you". I don't think so. America is on the brink of destruction because of our "do gooders". Clinton pledged Palestine $55 million of your hard earned dollars. Do I remember something recently that the Palestinian's did to us....hummmmm.

    August 3, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
    • DarthWoo

      We're neither actually, and as soon as more people start to realize that, then perhaps they'll realize that there need not be so much senseless animosity based on such fabrications.

      August 3, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  12. TheFallOfAmerica

    We are all witnessing a truly historic day. It could very well be the beginning of the self destruction the American Empire.

    This could very well signal the fall of the once great United States of America. The panel who made this decision are nothing but cruel and spineless. They didn't listen to the families of the victims and instead went ahead with denying landmark status of the building so that now a Mosque/Islamic center can be constructed there. This crazy decision by a liberal panel is only going to divide people more than we already are right now. Do they honestly have any idea what they have just agreed to and how much trouble this is going to cause? I feel extremely sad that the moderate muslims did little to oppose this proposition. I am sure the muslims who lost family members on 9/11 would understand the frustration of everybody else who lost family members and would strongly opposed any religious building being built near the site of ground zero, but this doesn't seem to be the case.

    The liberals are nothing but a sickness in the patient that is the United States of America. Who in their right mind 10 years ago would have thought that there would be a Mosque constructed two blocks away from ground zero. Oh, do forgive me for calling it a Mosque and not an Islamic center. I won't even dare to look at the liberal comments on here because I feel I will spew my liver out in the process. To all the stamped on people who lost family members on this day and the people who oppose the construction of a mosque so close to ground zero, I feel your pain but I can't bear to look at the comments because I don't want to come across comments made by the destructive liberals.

    August 3, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
    • Robert

      I agree.

      August 3, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
    • George

      10 years ago there was no ground zero...

      And ignorant people, such as yourself, are the fall of America.

      August 3, 2010 at 7:32 pm |
    • illuminated Genius

      True Americans will fight this to the very end to defend America's honor that honor of the victims families. We will fight this to the end this is not over by a long shot. I can tell you the good news Islam has failed and so has this idea which has not even taken place because it has made Americans angry and offended. I am strongly offended by this satanic mosque being build there. America and all Americans who honor those who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan will not all the muslims to win. Islam is failing and its reputation is destroyed, they have no sensitivity towards the families and America in general. The USA will win the war against the terrorists and defend freedom and democracy around the world. I don't care what those people in New York political offices say, there will not be anything built over there and we will not allow it. There will be a full scale war to fight this satanic mosque. Attempts to build it will meet with destruction as it will burn in flames if they dare build it. America don't let the muslims win and build a symbol of Islamic conquest in your nation. Show the enemies they are failing and Islam will be defeated because it is a huge failure and this idea has done nothing but offend Americans and spit on the graves of those murdered by the evil religion of Islam. I strongly support Geert Wilders because of this not to mention people like Pat Condel, Wafa Sultan, Salman Rushdie, Oriana Fallaci, Brigitte Gabriel of ACT 4 America. I find it very inappropriate to build this monument for Al-Qaida in that section. Congratulations to Islam you have failed and will continue to fail as you lose more an more respect.

      August 3, 2010 at 7:53 pm |
  13. chad, Milwaukee

    uhhh I don't get all the fuss. I'm a catholic conservative, and I don't see why they shouldn't be able to put one there. Just because it was some crazy muslim/middle-eastern guy that took down the towers doesn't mean the people at this community center did it. I guess I'm not even sure how to form an argument here because I don't understand what the big deal is. They should have religious freedom just like any Christian person I know. What does it matter how close to ground zero it is? Is two miles away ok? how about three? Where's the cut off?

    August 3, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
    • Robert

      Cutt off point – Middle East.

      August 3, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
    • David Stone

      Let me put this in simple terms so that you understand. Islam is the ONLY religion where large groups of men organize under the banner of the religion to KILL others. Other religions dropped the whole concept of "convert or die" a few centuries back....they also let go of the whole stoning and beheading thing, as well as the concept that women are property who shouldn't get an education, drive, or show their face in public....and also generally don't believe gays should be beheaded....islam SUCKS in a very unique way among religion, due to the fact that it never evolved....yeah....it's different

      August 3, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
    • chad, Milwaukee

      Ok David I don't think you understood my point. And you didn't even speak about the main issue in this article. By your definition, ANY mosque/community center is a terrible idea. There shouldn't be any anywhere. The point of this article is not that it's outrageous simply that one is being built, but that it's being built by ground zero. So explain in "simple terms" why it's so much bigger of a deal then?

      August 3, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
  14. Robert

    I want to build a community center for my KKK organization right next to the Black Pather Party Building........wouldn't people be upset then????? SAME THING!!!!!!1

    August 3, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
    • David Stone

      It really is the same thing....of course if the KKK wanted to set up shop in this space, the public outcry from the PC crowd would be overwhelming, and it would be stopped. We don't really have a total freedom to practice our beliefs, as that would show. We are ALLOWING a mosque to be built on the site of the greatest victory of islam over the civilized world so that people can pat each other on the back and feel tolerant....even though islam itself is the most intolerant religion around....

      August 3, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
    • Jayrock

      meh, not really the same thing. Again you are generalizing a whole culture based on the actions of a few. The KKK are an organization with a clear commitment to making America "white"

      Whereas being Muslim, is your choice to connect with God. Listen, fact is one of the biggest religion in the world is Muslim. If you are saying all Muslim are terrorists, then that means more the 1billion people around the world are ready to strap a bomb around their waste....That number is pretty astonishing. Please, before you go on spewing more of your misunderstood hatred, present me the contract where it says when you sign up to be a Muslim that are signing up to be a terrorist and promise to blow yourself up.

      August 3, 2010 at 7:11 pm |
  15. PeaceTV

    You mean

    1:All the non-Muslims living in Muslim countries have been beheaded?
    2: Christian priests are molesting children JUST ABOUT EVERYDAY?
    3. No violence against women happens in Western societies. ZERO? FYI – until 1950's ALL repeat ALL women were considered propriety in Western laws and had not rights in inheritances (Islam had given inheritance rights to women 1400 years ago, if some Muslims do not follow those teachings is it Islam's fault?)
    4.How much you know about non Muslims living in Majority Muslim Nations. Do you even know that their 14 million Christians living in Arab countries alone? Right now Muslims are being PERSECUTED on this website.
    5.Have you never seen a Muslim Female Doctor, Engineer, Scientist, Teacher, Professor, Artist, Pilot, Manager, CEO, etc. etc. If you have not they you must be living in a rain forest.

    The points you made are INVALID and are a testimonial of your ignorance and lack of knowledge.

    August 3, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
    • David Stone

      My response:

      1) ZERO people are beheaded in civilized countries / religions.
      2) Some catholic priests do molest boys, but it is because homosexuality is suppressed in that religion (as in islam). It is NOT a bunch of men acting IN THE NAME OF GOD, OR ALLAH, OR A RELIGION.
      3) Plenty of violence happens everywhere, but we don't do it pretending it is "Gods will"
      4) I know non-muslims don't go out marching in the streets in islamic countries protesting islam, that's for sure....they won't keep their heads long if they do
      5)Yes. There are some. That does NOT validate the sick, twisted religion which is a barbaric death cult stuck in the dark ages. Doctors and lawyers are also wiccans, mormons, and other silly religions.

      August 3, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
    • PeaceTV

      Mr. Stone

      Could you please explain the difference between beheading innocent people with knives and
      shooting innocent people from helicopters?

      August 3, 2010 at 8:59 pm |
    • CAA

      For you last question:

      The beheading of innocent people is done INTENTIONALLY, but shooting innocent people from helicopters is collateral damage to prevent more bloodshed from terrorists who hide between civilians.

      To reverse the question: If the west want to wipe out muslim population, it could be done long time ago. On the other side, how many civilian jew would be alive today, had the Muslim countries the military capacity of Israel?

      That is the difference.

      As for your other questions:

      1….No. But they live in a status close to the dhimmi, based on Koranic verses.

      2…..Only 500 cases have been reported in the last 50 years among half million of clegy, all denounced by the Church. Contrarily to Islamic laws in different countries which allow men to marry girls as 9 years old such as Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, etc., based on the prophet behavior, as well as his successors, (called the “Wise Caliphs”).

      3…Violence against women happens in all cultures, but are strongly condemned; except in Islam where Allah in the Koran allow the men to beat their wives if their suspect a wrong behavior.

      4….Concerning non Muslims living in Majority Muslim Nations: In Egypt, for example,

      …. they are not allowed to build or repair any churches unless they have a special authorization from the governor (alongside with 10 other very strict regulations),
      …they are not allowed to occupy any high rank in sensitive posts (governors, army, secret forces, etc.)
      …they are thrown in jails if suspected of preaching Christianity

      And in ALL Muslim countries,
      ….whoever apostates from Islam is either, jailed and denied his basic rights, either executed, based on the prophet teachings.

      I just want to point out that Christian in Muslim countries were BEFORE Islam invasion, contrarily to Muslims who recently migrated to western societies. Beside, Muslim human right charter states that humans are divided in 3 categories: Muslims the upper, Christian and jews the second, and others the lower.

      And it is all based on Islamic Charia laws.

      I hope you will not pretend that the TOTALITY OF MUSLIM countries have misinterpreted the Koran and you know better?
      Christians were 20% of the Middle east population in the 1950th; they are only 1% now. Why do you think they left?

      5…. We have seen Muslim Female Doctor, Engineer, Scientist, Teacher, Professor, Artist, Pilot, Manager, CEO, etc. etc. However, in most of Muslim countries (not the secular ones like Sirya or Tunis, Turkey), they are doing it with lots of condemnation from Muslim clerics.

      Taking about ignorance and lack of knowledge:

      I truly invite to know better about Charia Laws, Koran, Allah who shares the booty with his prophet, who allows Muslims to collect as many women salves as they wish among the infidels, the abrogation principle (where violent verses cancelled the peaceful ones), etc. and find out if truly Islam a religion of peace?

      Good tip: Start by learning Arabic.

      August 4, 2010 at 10:03 am |
    • PeaceTV

      CAA, are you pretending that you did not watch the video of US Marines shooting civilians in Iraq (including Iraqi journalists working for US News Media) from helicopter for fun and enjoying the killings? If you have not really watched that video which was leaked by Wikileaks then you should up date yourself with current affairs before posting comments.

      As far wiping out entire Muslim population is concerned, do you know for how long Muslims were a super power. FYI Muslims were a super power for a THOUSAND years and if the picture of Islam you are trying to paint was true they would have wiped out the entire world population of non Muslims many centuries ago. But they did not because Islam does not teach them to do so.

      As far military power of Israel is concerned, do you know Pakistan has enough nuclear weapons to wipe out Israel many times. In 1998 two nuclear armed Pakistani submarines off the coast of Israel forced Israel to call of the air strikes which it had planned for along with India against the Pakistani nuclear facilities.

      The point is that what your are trying to say is that your BAD GUYs can not do bad. In fact you are trying to convince that in US army there are no BAD GUYs. Even if they commit raps and war crimes they are still good guys and heroes. Is it not the same mentality which Nazis had about them selves before their fall. On the other hand you are trying to paint a picture that majority of the Muslims are BAD GUYs and even if there are good Muslims they can not do good. This only shows how narrow minded and ignorant you are about the realities which surround you and the history on which you are trying to comment with out knowing much about it.

      August 4, 2010 at 1:07 pm |
    • CAA

      Peace TV,
      I never pretended that Muslims wanted to wipe out other populations or that all muslims are bad, but there is surely a problem with Islam itself. Please re-read my comment No 4.

      As for the other stuff, I have prepared a long commentary that CNN moderator refused, I do not know why?

      I re-write my conclusion:

      How do you explain the fact that apostasy from Islam is punishable in all Muslim countries? Do you think it is an example of a peaceful and open minded religion?

      If you do not agree with that, have all these countries misinterpreted Islam for 14 centuries?

      How many do you think would remain Muslims today had they have the freedom to leave Islam?

      I lived in a Muslim country for 25 years and I know the Arabic language. If you haven’t, you know nothing about Islam. If you’re happy the way you are, good for you.

      August 4, 2010 at 4:39 pm |
  16. ZK

    I am a Muslim but I believe a Mosque on ground zero is absolutely unnecessary. We should respect the feelings of our fellow countrymen and especially the people living in that area who have lost loved ones and abandon this effort. The law allows it but the heart shouldn't.
    Secondly I also read somewhere that the proposed structure is not going to be a Mosque only but a multipurpose building with an area/floor dedicated for offering prayers (not sure about it). That in itself cannot be called a Mosque to begin with, so why cause so much hurt, anger and anxiety over it by calling it a Mosque? This whole thing is totally unwarranted if better sense prevails and the so called Mosque can be built somewhere else other than ground zero.

    August 3, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
    • George

      ZK, I am not a Muslim. Please, tell me, am I an infidel?

      August 3, 2010 at 6:58 pm |
    • PeaceTV

      George, see if you fit in the following definition of infidel given by Wikipedia:

      Infidel (literally "one without faith") is a chiefly archaic English noun, meaning one who doubts or rejects the central tenets of a religion other than one's own or has no religious beliefs; especially in reference to Christianity or Islam.

      Infidel is an ecclesiastical term in Christianity around which the Church developed a body of theology that deals with the concept of infidelity; which makes a clear differentiation between those who were baptized and followed the teachings of the Church vs. those who are outside the faith. The term infidel was used by Christians to describe non-Christians or those perceived as the enemies of Christianity, especially to designate monotheists (Muslims) who do not subscribe to the Judeo-Christian concept of God, and thus differs from heathen or pagan.

      After the ancient world the concept of otherness, an exclusionary notion of the outside by societies with more or less coherent cultural boundaries, became associated with the development of the monotheistic and prophetic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The conception of infidelity as a theological condition is a result of their strict conformity to monotheism, as well as their rejection and condemnation of pagan rites.

      August 3, 2010 at 8:43 pm |
  17. Tyrone

    Look at how any churches and synagogues are built on the soil where slaves toiled under the whips held by Christian and jewish slaveowners.

    August 3, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
    • David Stone

      To the victor goes the spoils of war. Conquerors generally do get to build what they want....problem is, the islamic horde hasn't conquered America yet...or maybe this is just what is happening here.....in stages

      August 3, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  18. Jon

    What freedom are the Republicans going to try to take away next?

    August 3, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  19. M Honcho

    Wow... It is so amazing how many people claim that what they feel and believe is the absolute truth. On both sides. In regards to this, I say Let them build it if it is legal. If it is morally right or wrong I wont say because the only people that actually have an opinion that, I think, is valid are no longer with us and left us on that September morning. Everyone else has an agenda. Including myself.
    "Patriotism ruins history." – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    August 3, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  20. Bob

    Go ahead and build it and some radical nut from the other side will blow it up. Only when humankiind evolves beyond the need to worship fairytales will we be free of this nonsense.

    August 3, 2010 at 6:13 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.