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. Lang

    @ Dee – Your quote of Jesus is actually a parable taken completely out of context. If you decide to quote biblical text, please do not do it in a vein similar to Andrew Breitbart.

    August 3, 2010 at 7:58 pm |
  2. Let's build

    yeah, lets build some good tolerance bridges, let's start building a sinagogue and a christian church next to meca...let's see what happen...go for the permit!!!.

    August 3, 2010 at 7:57 pm |
    • family guy

      i think that mecca and medina should be retuned to the jews , it did belong to the jews till the mulsims killed all the men and took the woman and children as slaves . i think the UN should serve notice to saudi and have a resoloution in place for saudi arabia to vacate mecca and medina and return it to the jews. as a peace offering , and as an appoligy for 9/11.

      August 3, 2010 at 9:27 pm |
  3. NotXenophobic

    I’m a Christian and, personally I’m much more offended that there is STILL no memorial to the fallen on that site!!!! Just a big hole in the ground, what may be the most pivotal site in our history, still memorialized by nothing more than a hole in the ground almost ten years later. But a Mosque three blocks away??? OH MY GOD WE CAN’T LET THAT HAPPEN!!!!!! Some people don’t have their priorities straight, others are just buying into prejudiced propaganda.

    August 3, 2010 at 7:54 pm |
  4. chuy

    Wow quite a heated religious debate. Should heat up even more if it gets built. Probaly start a fire. I do not see that fire "bridging " anything. Do the right thing and build it somewhere else before people burn for this. Ah fu*? it, build the thing and buy stock in weapons companies.

    August 3, 2010 at 7:53 pm |
  5. Lang

    This is not a peaceful act. Would building a cathedral or church in Tehran or Bagdad be an action of peace and 'building bridges'? No, that act would lead to riots and incitement, and incitement seems to be the statement of this mosque.

    Peace does not mean incitement.

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

    When I was in Jersusalem, I tried to visit the Dome of the Rock past the Western Wall, but they didn't let me onto the Temple Mount because I'm not Muslim. Now I know why it's called the Wailing Wall, because it's the closest Jews and Christians can get to the site of Solomon's Temple; the holy of holies.

    August 3, 2010 at 7:46 pm |
  7. notafanofit

    Personally I think it is a bit on the disrespectful side but really no different than xtian missionaries going to the middle east and attempting to convert muslims to christianity. I'll go with Goddess power. I am sick of the monotheistic religions boasting their morality and virtue when their histories are covered with blood. Beware of strangers bearing gifts. I don't trust religious people of any faith, there is always an ulterior motive, whether it be to convert or earn points on their god ledgers.

    August 3, 2010 at 7:46 pm |
  8. Iba

    mohammed, the perfect example. Oh yes, the perfect example of a pedophile, though muslims try to keep that on the 'down low.'

    Everyone, EVERYONE who was against the thugs threatening the creators of South Park recently for daring to show the prophet mohammed, should be against this mosque as well. These are the early things that the religion of islam leads to. Do you really want to follow the path that has subjugated countless civilizations and damaged them beyond repair? Please, please do not sacrifice our culture and freedom on the alter of diversity.

    August 3, 2010 at 7:42 pm |
  9. jane

    Timothy McVeigh was into the whole anti-government militia movement. if a militia group wanted to set up accross the street from the Oklahoma Federal Building to "educate" people about the militia movement and show that they are peaceful and lawabiding- people would lose thier minds and it would not be permitted. So I do not believe all the people who say if they were white christians there would be no drama. Most of the militia movement is white and most christian and I believe if they had done 9-11 they would not be allowed to set up shop nearby. I'm also sure if it was Isreali Jews who had done 9-11 and wanted to build a six story Isreali/Jewish center all the Muslim groups would be saying that their choise of location was disrespectful and would cause anti-Jewish feelings.

    August 3, 2010 at 7:32 pm |
  10. Iba

    I've said it once, and I'll say it again. Once muslims demonstrate that they are able of creating a multicultural, stable society with freedom of worship and expression, then and only then should they be welcome to immigrate to this country. Until that time, limit the immigration, and limit the damage. As a frequent visitor to Times Square, I don't especially want the next car bomb attempt to kill me.

    Muslims, the ultimate hypocrites. To make a start, consider speaking out against then persecution of the Copts in Egypt, the kidnapping of Christians in Pakistan, the banning of other religions in Saudi Arabia, the attacks in Africa, the calls for the imposition of sharia law in Malaysia, etc. You guys have plenty of work to do in your own regions before we welcome you to ours. Enough of the world has been poisoned by islam and stuck in the 7th century.

    August 3, 2010 at 7:31 pm |
    • tolerant

      There are many Muslims who are born Americans. Many of them are the children of those who were brought here as slaves as far back as the 1700's (e.g. Keith Allison: member of Congress). Remember, many of the slaves were Muslims and converted to Christianity!

      So, it is a myth that all Muslims are immigrants.

      Also, why should America, a light unto other nations, abandon its principles just because the Muslim countries are repressive and undemocratic and not pluralistic?

      August 3, 2010 at 8:29 pm |
  11. Ashley

    I just heard this on NBC Nightly News and I was simply outragged by this. Building a mosque within 250 yds of Ground Zero?! This is heartbreaking. Who wants a mosque near a place which means so much to us Americans? It's like having a slap in the face or just laughing at us. Do we have to remind these people on who did this to us nearly 10 yrs later? No. Ground Zero means so much to us Americans because so many people died in those towers and in those planes that day. This would be like opening a wound again.

    I am glad that Sarah Palin are very against this and so many others including myself. We can handle hispanics, but a muslim mosque within 250 yds of Ground Zero? It isn't happening. So do us a favor and build your mosque in a Muslim community elsewhere in NYC not near Ground Zero!!

    August 3, 2010 at 7:30 pm |
  12. Ryan

    One reason this mosque thing scares me is that it reminds me of the building of the Dome of the Rock on top of the site of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem. It makes me think of desecration.

    August 3, 2010 at 7:29 pm |
  13. Jayrock

    Plain and simple, if you feel that a person does not have the right to practice their faith in our country then it was never your country to begin with. Even if you were born here, an immigrant who is tolerant of another mans beliefs hold more share in this country then you. If you enable our government to take away the freedom of 1 particular group, then it enables them to continue down the line. Bigoted people who can't or refuse to assimilate with other cultures within America do deserve their own country, just somewhere next to China, North Korea, or any other communist state.

    August 3, 2010 at 7:27 pm |
  14. Glen

    This is about real estate and planting a victory flag. Nothing less.

    August 3, 2010 at 7:26 pm |
  15. a.

    I wonder which the dumbest religions is? The christians? They sure seem to be the most hypocritical. I guess it's a toss up, they all lose.

    August 3, 2010 at 7:22 pm |
  16. andrew wang

    these landmark commission is cowards and traitors of New York 9/11 victims and USA.

    August 3, 2010 at 7:20 pm |
  17. Mike, formerly from Syracuse

    Islam claims to be a religion of peace. Yet it is deliberately giving the finger to the survivors of the 3000 who died on 9/11. Sure, they have the 'right' to build there; just like the American Nazi's had the 'right' to march in Skokie, IL in the 1970's despite the fact that it was home to many Holocaust survivors. It is however a deliberate provocation by a religion that claims to be peaceful, yet acts anything but.

    August 3, 2010 at 7:18 pm |
  18. Tommy

    This is AMERICA, a free country. Not your country the way you want it. If this was Saudi Arabia, a Muslim country, it might be a little bit harder to build a church. But this is a FREE, non-Christian country. You learned something today.

    August 3, 2010 at 7:13 pm |
  19. PeaceTV

    Seriously, watch the video made by the 911 families called "911 Press for Truth"

    August 3, 2010 at 7:11 pm |
  20. Anywhere but here

    I appose this as long as they don't come and tell me I can't buiilt on my own back yard.

    August 3, 2010 at 7:07 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.