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. andrea

    Ummar.... and then came Queen Isabella an Ferdinand an impose inquisition, where all jews, friends and cols, were burnt on fire because of being non Catholics. Then Christians did the recapture of Jerusalem, killing everybody around. Later, palestinians, a group of unknown people by that time (100 years old as much) guided by Arafat decided they did not want to recognize Israel, and most of the arab world, decided to throw Israelis to the sea. Still today, Hamas Hezbollah Iran, and other muslim countries want the same, and they are still around us. As you said at one point , before inquisition Jews and Muslims work together as they were the wise people . Now I wonder what happened with the muslim world that derail so much of the common path to become so attracted to call non muslims as infidels, and be against them..

    August 3, 2010 at 11:06 pm |
    • CAA

      “before inquisition Jews and Muslims work together as they were the wise people.”


      Before inquisition, Christians and jews were expelled from Arab peninsula, to fulfill the prophet’s will.

      Before inquisition, Muslims invaded Syria, Jerusalem, Egypt, Libya, Maghreb, Spain, etc. and forced all jews and Christians to live under dhimmi laws by paying a special tax “jiziah” in all humiliation (according to the related Koranic verse). In some places like Algeria, they obliged all Christians Berbers to convert to Islam.

      Before inquisition, Muslims were using Spain as a base to continually attack Europe, looking for booty and women slaves.

      Before inquisition, Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem –despite agreement with Muslim rulers- were captured and enslaved by some Muslim groups.

      Before inquisition, the Holy-Sepulcher Church (Holiest Site for Christians) was destroyed by Calife Hakim in 970, which led to the starting of Crusades (300 years after continuous attacks of Muslims on Europe). Cold you imagine if Americans today demolished El Kaaba?

      Before inquisition (after the end of Crusades), Constantinople was captured by Muslim invaders.

      Before inquisition, Vienne was about to fall to Muslim invaders.

      Before inquisition, Muslim Pirates were attacking Southern Europe ships, capturing women and booty to their homeland in North Africa.

      And so on.

      Before and after inquisition, all who criticize or apostates from Islam, were and still put to death.

      Church apologized for mistakes and crimes in the name of God, and considers the Crusades and inquisition as mistakes.

      When was the last time Muslims apologized for all their razzes, attacks, slavery, inquisitions, and invasion throughout 14 centuries?

      Never! They consider their bloody history as a piece of pride till now!

      August 4, 2010 at 11:01 am |
  2. David

    The greatest travesty of all is that all kids deserve the best. We would all die for our kids, not the other way around. I believe any child should and deserves a family and culture that wants them to be more successful than their parents. If any muslim child could experience a western upbringing and the opportunities to grow and have a well rounded and successful and loving/caring family, Islam would die on the vine and their future would be far more rewarding and joyous than they would have ever expected.

    Nobody relishes a return to the dark ages and in the enlightened times, how could this even be a possibility????/

    August 3, 2010 at 11:01 pm |
    • Scott NH

      What on earth are you talking about?? Indonesia is the largest Muslim nation on earth. When I brought my obviously white children there and we went to a poor neighborhood in Jakarta the local kids all brought their toys over to my children and laid them out in front of them as a way of saying "we accept you, please play with us." The Muslims that I know are kind, generous, loving, and wonderful parents. If you met them, I'm sure you would change your mind about your post.

      August 3, 2010 at 11:06 pm |
  3. Jim

    I am much more comfortable living among 100,000 illegal Hispanics than one legal muslim. The muslim can never be trusted, and will never accept any other beliefs except the goofball mohammed crap. My fellow retired military friends agree completely.
    I loved the Denmark cartoons and have them as my wallpaper.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:00 pm |
  4. Josephine

    The Muslims are so incredibly insensitive and sadly, political correctness is going to further wound the relatives of the victims yet again. It seems apparent that empathy and kindness are sadly lacking in the Islamic faith. Truly, we are expecting too much from them.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:59 pm |
  5. Scott NH

    I'm an American Jew and generally strong in favor of the ADL, but they couldn't be more wrong here. My great grandparents escaped the pogroms in Russia to find religious freedom here in America. Opposition to this mosque is the kind of thing they were running from. All the hijackers on 9/11 were men, but we don't ask men to stay away from ground zero. And just like 99.9999% of men are not terrorists, 99.9999% of Muslims aren't either, and as a society we need to learn that and I think this mosque will help teach it. I hope the mosque is finished soon, and I hope it comes out beautiful.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:59 pm |
    • MisguidedReligion

      You make an interesting point Scott. Now if only all the Jews in Israel would feel the same way as you and stop the abuse of Palestinians and live in peace.

      August 3, 2010 at 11:07 pm |
    • AsAKid

      I remember Allah from watching Sesame Street. The Amazing Mumford would say "Allah peanut butter sandwiches" and poof there was magic. Is this how Islam was started?

      August 3, 2010 at 11:20 pm |
    • Scott NH

      MR, I agree with you. I've been to Israel many times, I have friends and relatives there, worked there, and have given to Israeli charities. That said, I consider incursions into Ramallah, wholesale bombing of civilians in Gaza, 3am demolition notices left on houses, destruction of civilian infrastructure, collective punishment of civilians, expanding settlements, and denying Palestinians the right to travel, trade, and receive education or medical care to be abhorrent, indecent, and also against Israel's own interests. That said, I really do believe that peace in Israel is possible, and I think I will see it in my lifetime.

      August 3, 2010 at 11:58 pm |
  6. AG

    If a mosque is built, Americans will regret it forever. Police cannot enter religious places and terrorists are going to use the mosque as hiding place, mark my words. I have seen it happen and it will happen again right here in US. STOP THIS BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:58 pm |
    • Scott NH

      1) Of course police can enter religious places. Google "church search warrant" 2) Terrorists are not going to use this mosque. 3) You haven't seen it happen.

      August 3, 2010 at 11:02 pm |
  7. Steve

    david explain, what is so wrong with my statement? Its all true! al your saying is they cant build there because of there religion and that is wrong. period. unamerican.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:55 pm |
  8. We_Are_One

    Do not care for doctrines, do not care for dogmas, or sects, or churches, or temples or mosque ; they count for little compared with the essence of existence in each man, which is spirituality; and the more this is developed in a man, the more powerful is he for good. Earn that first, acquire that, and criticise no one, for all doctrines and creeds have some good in them. Show by your lives that religion does not mean words, or names, or sects, but that it means spiritual realization. Only those can understand who have felt. Only those who have attained to spirituality can communicate it to others, can be great teachers of mankind. They alone are the powers of light.

    Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this divinity within, by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy – by one, or more, or all of these – and be free. This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books , are but secondary details.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:55 pm |
  9. MisguidedReligion

    The first time I had ever heard of a religion promoting 13 virgins in heaven if you die for your cause, I knew there was something strange, but then I learned what muslim men do to their women, how they treat them and beat them. I began to get a picture of how Islam is so misguided and backwards in their teachings. I also read history on Muhammed and he was nothing like Jesus Christ...not in this lifetime. He could not even write.

    I have heard various Imams preach and they are wicked. I know now there is something inherently evil in Islam. Today, I can say that anyone that follows Islam is being lead down the wrong path.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:51 pm |
  10. David

    noway............. explain

    August 3, 2010 at 10:50 pm |
  11. noway

    people like each other to live or die

    August 3, 2010 at 10:46 pm |
  12. David

    Steve, you are a moron

    August 3, 2010 at 10:45 pm |
  13. JakeBKNY

    I wonder how big this would be if it wasn’t an election year. Most people who have issues with this don’t live in Lower Manhattan or even NYC and really know nothing about this COMMUNITY CENTER and the fact that the people behind this have been apart of Lower Manhattan for over 27 years. Politicians are merely using this for cheap political points that’s all this is. It’s very evident when Rick Lazio “calls” on his opponent Andrew Cumo to investigate their funding source (for those who don’t even live in the tri-state area Rick Lazio is the Republican running for governor and Andrew Cumo is the current Distract Attorney and Democrat running for governor.) I guess we should be as intolerant as the countries we say we are better than.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:43 pm |
  14. David

    Lets not forget CNN is no bedfellow of true Americans, I would truly love to know when and why they decided to turn against the country of their forefathers and play to the opposition. Please explain CNN, freedom comes to us, but not from your actions.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:42 pm |
  15. Steve

    i am a good ol southern boy from georgia and i dont give a crap about a community center for Muslims, yes what they did sucks and should all be killed. America was founded on religious freedom and here we are denying religion all because of a some acts by some crazy people. We had a civil war over slavery and killed millions of americans, millions of american, are we going to go through this with religion and have our country dictate what religion is allowed. this is america, we can have what ever religion we want, build what every we want if we have the money and no one can do nothing about. if you dont like then go protest!

    August 3, 2010 at 10:42 pm |
  16. Bonnie

    I am reminded of an incident that occurred when I went on a trip to Israel with a group of Christian seminary students in 1977. One girl bought a small gold star of David and wore it on the same chain as her gold cross. A Palestinian man said to her in a very courteous manner, "I know you mean to show respect to Judaism as a foundation of Christianity, but please remember that the star and cross are political symbols to those who live here, not just religious ones. You offend Muslims and Jews by wearing by wearing the two together. By the way, I am a Christian too." If it is not considered respectful by those who do not consider it a bridge, it isn't one. The Muslims have a just and legal right to be and build any way they want, but can this really ever be a bridge? No. Too much evil was done here by religious people acting in a violently political manner. A non-sectarian sanctuary of remembrance and brotherhood would be a bridge, not this.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:42 pm |
  17. If_I_were_Prez_1

    Why did CNN delete the following comment from me that I posted at 9:27 PM......Is it because I mentioned Mr. Obama in not too heed a light, or is it because my thought out comment with no colorful language does not meet their "proper" guidelines??? Let's try again, shall we.............................................

    Religion, Religion, Religion......You prople get off this Religion kick for a moment and THINK about the MEANING of this. One poster said basically "Turn it around and think if you were an American living in Dubai and some American Nuts flew planes into one of their sacred buildings and killed a bunch of them. How would they react?" Let me be crystal clear here, if the same happened in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Tehran, Bagdad or anywhere in the Muslim world, they would not only KILL all Americans in their country, but Worldwide. Not only would their military slaughter Americans where ever they could find them, but ALL Muslims every where would hunt out Americans and butcher them, Not only would they kill them, they would gruesomely mutilate the bodies by dragging, stoning, lashing, cutting, beheading, hanging the dead bodies from lamp posts, bridges, fences and so on. You know this, you have seen this time and time again. Have we as Americans done this since 9/11? No, absolutely not. Sure we have sent our Military to hunt down those responsible and YES along the way some civilians have been in the wrong place at the wrong time and were accidentally killed. Such is the results of military action and war. This particular outrage is NOT about Religion, but about consideration and morality. It is just NOT RIGHT to buily a Mosque that close to where 9/11 happened. If 9/11 had been carried out by Jewish terrorists, it would not be right for a new synagogue to be built that close. If 9/11 had been carried out by Columbian terrorists, it would not be right for a new Columbian anything to be built that close. Use your mind to think this out and you too will see this is simply not right and will disgrace not only all the 9/11 survivors and families, but all Americans. There are PLENTY of other places a Mosque can be located, cheaper places, more hospitable places, BUT NOT THERE!!!! Mayor Bloomberg amd Governor Paterson, Congress, Senators, Citizens of New York, AMERICANS (and you too Mr. Obama), DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN, Real Americans would not

    August 3, 2010 at 10:32 pm |
    • Ryan

      Yes, it is in very poor taste to build there. That doesn't preclude their right to practice their religion, however... as long as that practice doesn't interfere with other people's rights, which, by the way, does NOT include a right to 'not be offended'.

      it doesn't matter what the other countries would do. see, we have a certain standard of behavior that we ascribe to in America- and it doesn't matter AT ALL if other countries do the same.

      August 3, 2010 at 10:53 pm |
    • Nicholas Kattar

      If you were president you would know that it's people...Not prople. Though that is an interesting word.

      August 4, 2010 at 9:40 am |
  18. Freedom

    Next time there is an attack in this country from Muslims, this country will not respond by invading two Muslims countries. We will respond by wiping out most Muslims.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
  19. riverrunner

    All of this would be easily solved if there were no religion. Imagine.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:27 pm |
    • Patrick

      hey guess what, THERE IS NO RELIGION!!! just a bunch of stupid weak minded idiot people that will fall for anything... turn on your TV on a Sunday, they even have these things on TV... its hysterical, I watch with my kids sometimes and we laugh our ass;s off at the outfits some of these "guys" wear... so gay, most people involved in religion (priest, nun etc) um there all gay... they hide behind the religion so their relatives and friends won’t think there is anything "funny" about them not being married at 40 years old...etc...hahhahhhahaaah!!!!

      August 3, 2010 at 11:01 pm |
  20. David

    Who the heck is Peace TV!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 3, 2010 at 10:26 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.