August 4th, 2010
07:40 PM ET

Lawsuit challenges ground zero mosque

By Elise Zeiger, CNN Senior Producer

A group representing a New York City firefighter who survived the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks filed suit Wednesday seeking to nullify a ruling that cleared the way for construction of what's come to be known as the "ground zero mosque."

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) filed its suit against the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission at the New York Supreme Court. The suit urges the court to nullify a decision by the commission Tuesday, when it denied landmark status to a building and thereby cleared the way for an Islamic center and mosque to be built on the site.

The lawsuit charges that the city violated its own policies and procedures in rejecting landmark status and exhibited "an arbitrary and capricious abuse of discretion."

"We seek to preserve and have landmarked a property that terrorism on September 11th, 2001, was unable to destroy, but which will be destroyed if the landmark's decision stands as is," said ACLJ counsel Brett Joshpe. "We believe that they rushed to a vote, that they rushed a decision without a full and fair public hearing and public debate."

The ACLJ is representing Tim Brown, a decorated firefighter who survived the Twin Towers' collapse.

"Who decided the boundaries of ground zero? Where did it end? It seems common sense to me that if part of the plane went through the roof, that certainly means there could be body parts there. And as far as we can tell, it has not been searched. We're gonna find out," said Brown, now retired, who said he lost 93 friends in the collapse.

The existing building is owned by the Cordoba Initiative, a Muslim outreach group, and already serves as a site where prayer services are held. The group wants to demolish the existing structure and build a "$100 million, 13-story community center with Islamic, interfaith and secular programming," the Cordoba Initiative website says.

The ACLJ, a legal advocacy group founded by televangelist Pat Robertson in 1990, is seeking to have the landmarks commission's ruling set aside by the court and have the commission reconsider.

The lawsuit says that the building in question had been under consideration for landmark status 20 years before 9/11, and that the designation is even more appropriate now since part of one of the hijacked plane from the attacks crashed through the roof of the building.

"For them to suddenly take this property in the dead of summer, on such a controversial issue, to publicly announce a hearing with very little notice and to provide only a week's time for public comment, really is uncharacteristic, especially for a property of this sort," Joshpe said, referring to the commission.

"We're not here because of hate or bigotry. Nobody wants to ban Islam," he said. "This is about insensitivity."

Brown, clearly outraged Tuesday's decision said, families of 9/11 victims "are physically ill over the vote. I'm here to defend those families."

"We are not going to back off, we are going to charge full steam ahead on this, and we're gonna see to it that this mosque never gets built on ground zero, on our cemetery," Brown added.

The court is expected to set a hearing date for the lawsuit sometime in October.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Houses of worship • Interfaith issues • Islam • Mosque • Muslim • New York • United States

soundoff (553 Responses)
  1. buddy

    Let them build it, then drop a plane on it. Then build a church on the ruins serve hot dogs on opening day!!! throw em all out they hate us anyway. Then we won't need a mosgue or have to listen to this babble

    August 5, 2010 at 9:24 am |
  2. NOdhimmi

    Building this mosque will show our tolerance??? Get real!!! The building of this mosque will show one clear thing – terrorism works.

    August 5, 2010 at 9:19 am |
  3. liz

    "The ACLJ, a legal advocacy group founded by televangelist Pat Robertson" The same Charles Taylor is a Good Christian Pat Robertson? The same Feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians., Pat Robertson?

    August 5, 2010 at 9:16 am |
  4. Brett


    People make those assumptions about Irish and Italian people all the time... The only difference is, Irish people who get drunk and beat their wives don't then get into a plane and blow up buildings. They stay at home, drinking and popping out babies and slapping their wives. Italians may be gangsters, but after they beat you up and throw you in the trunk of the car, they don't line that car with explosives and leave it to blow up in Times Square. There's your difference.

    August 5, 2010 at 9:14 am |
    • richard

      During the 70s and 80s, Irish nationalist extremists blew plenty of stuff up in England....If the IRA had attacked American targets, would it have been appropriate to close down Catholic Churches and expel the priests?

      August 5, 2010 at 11:07 am |
    • Brett


      Thanks. You're right about that. All I can say is that when the Irish radicals were bombing England, they weren't doing it in the name of God. Comparing jihad to real war is like comparing apples to oranges, and thus doesn't settle your point.

      August 5, 2010 at 11:55 am |
    • Kaddafi_Delenda_Est

      The irony (apparently lost on Leftist-Quislings) is that Kaddafi was the IRA. Kaddafi financed, supported, directed, trained and armed the IRA for decades. They were among his favorite Marxist hired goons.

      Up to 6,000 innocents were killed or injured with Libyan supplied guns and explosives. And many IRA bombs employed the same Semtex that sent what was left of Clipper Maid of the Seas crashing into Christmas dinner tables in tiny Lockerbie (incinerating 11 Scots on the ground). Kaddafi has accepted liability and responsibility for both IRA terrorism AND Lockerbie terrorism– along with many other mass murders of innocents orchestrated by his terror-state.

      Kaddafi’s IRA proxies might still be in business if not for the tireless efforts of the Victims of Pan Am 103 to sanction and isolate Libya. But (apparently) no good deed goes unpunished– at least among the cheap Scotch-adled SNP brains of Kenny MacAskill fans.

      IRA and Lockerbie bombing victims properly hold Kaddafi responsible for his bloody atrocities. They can no longer afford to ignore the kabuki theatre of Libyan state-sponsored terrorism.

      Deluded Leftists can sneer about Irish-Marxists all they want– meanwhile Kaddafi's jihadists continue their demographic conquest of those quaint little British Isles. Good luck with that, Quislings.

      August 5, 2010 at 2:38 pm |
  5. buddy

    Let them build it , then drop a plane on it and later build a church on it's ruins. Wake up and throw em all out of here and we won't need a mosque anywhere!!!

    August 5, 2010 at 9:13 am |
  6. Betty Jo

    I have been thinking a lot about having a Mosque built near the site of the 9/11 WTC attack on our Country. I have thought about what it would be like to among the family members who lost loved ones in the attack, I have thought about what it would be to a law abiding American Muslim and having faced discrimination and judgements, but more importantly I have thought about my children and their children and what they would learn fromt he choices that are made. Will they see hatred and mistrust for their fellow Americans because that is what the History of our country has taught them...or will they see growth, forgiveness and healing because that is what has occured over the years since the attacks. Will my children learn what being an american is all about. I know that this is sensitive to many because many were effected by the choices that were made that day, but we, as Americans today, can choose Healing, Love and Forgiveness....and allowing the Mosque to be bult near the ground zero site is a way to show that

    August 5, 2010 at 9:13 am |
  7. Anonymous

    I Don't know about you people, but my stomach hurts just when I think about it. Most Muslim don't tolerate other religion or beliefs. For them every body else are the infidels. I understand that we have freedom in America, but go build your mosque some where else, don't cause more pain to the family victims. It causes me pain and I didn't loose any one in my family on that day. Use that building for something else, put some people there to help fight terrorism. Yes we are given this country away, one day is going to be an Islamic State, and then we will have no freedoms at all.

    August 5, 2010 at 9:12 am |
  8. Vince Capece

    I'm going to come out and say it....many of you are just plain stupid. Here are my TWO reasons why I can take that stance: 1) if you're American and you are against the building of an Islamic community center in Manhattan (it's NOT at Ground Zero), then you're against America, which was founded on religious freedoms and, by accident or not, the freedom of ALL religions not just the one YOU prefer...for this reason, as Americans you should be SUPPORTING the rights of any group to build a place dedicated to their god. 2) if you're a Christian, isn't the Bible's foremost teaching "do unto others?" Because Islamic countries do not allow a Christian building to be erected means you MUST (according to the Bible) counter that by allowing others to follow their beliefs. You wouldn't want anything less for yourself, would you?

    It does not matter that THEY do not allow it. It does not matter that some radical elements of their religion have done awful things...radical elements of YOUR religion (no matter what religion that is) have also done awful things in the name of your god as well. All that matters is that YOU stand up and be Christian and/or American and DEFEND the rights of these peaceful Muslims.

    You can't be American or Christian only when it suits your purposes. You must stand for those beliefs ESPECIALLY when it goes against what you personally believe. It's what America needs and God asked of you.

    August 5, 2010 at 9:11 am |
    • Sashland

      unless, of course, "THEY" are paying for it...

      August 6, 2010 at 9:34 am |
  9. David

    "...he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin."

    And in 1907 when Theodore Roosevelt made this statement, were blacks treated with the EXACT EQUALITY as whites?

    August 5, 2010 at 9:08 am |
  10. Chris

    I love how a lot of people claim to be tolerant and sprout off about how this is a sensitivity issue. "Build it ANYWHERE, just not next to Ground Zero."

    Does this mean you'd be cool with it in your own backyard?

    August 5, 2010 at 9:08 am |
  11. sagebrush shorty

    Muslims apparently do not care about anything except the advancement of their stone age religion.

    August 5, 2010 at 9:08 am |
  12. Mike

    If we are banning Mosque's from New York, then surely we should ban churches from Oklahoma City. Timothy McVeigh was a supposed Christian, just as the 9/11 attackers were supposed Muslims.

    August 5, 2010 at 9:08 am |
  13. airforcemikesingh

    Insensitivity? LMAO, America, Land of the Free and home of the insentives...LMAO...wow, a building which is RIGHTFULLY owned by a group which plans to build a community center with a mosque in it that is 2 blocks from "ground zero" which already have a prayer room should not be constructed because of the insentivity it creates for the families of the victims of September 11th, 2001? So basically 19 terrorist who attacked America according to the Islamaphobes, acted on the behalf of every muslim in the world and now every muslim in the world should apologize to every Christian family who lost someone in the attack. I guess only Christians died that day in those planes and towers...i guess we should cower in fear when Islam is mentioned or when we see someone that is openly muslim...i guess we should forget the Bill of Rights and the Constitution and deny the rights for these people...i guess we should ban every religion with the exception of Christianity...i guess we should take away rights from these non Christians and have everyone of them register their religion and put a sticker on them and their homes, businesses to identify them as non Christians and if they fail to comply, execute them. Didn't you're god say something like, turning the other cheek or like love thy neighbor or don't judge and be tolerant and accepting? Seems America is Christian only during tragedies and on Easter, Christmas and when something about Islam is mentioned...but what do i know, i'm just a born Hindu...God Bless The United States of Christianity!!!!

    August 5, 2010 at 9:04 am |
    • Adrian

      Mike you're a moron McVeigh was an agnostic and was motivared by the "Turner Diaries"

      August 5, 2010 at 2:38 pm |
    • Kaddafi_Delenda_Est

      @mike: The Christian duty to "turn the other cheek" is an individual duty; one which the 9/11 victims can no longer fulfill, insofar as their cheeks are collectively strewn all over lower Manhattan.

      Our Christian duty in response to mass murder is to uphold justice. So, what would Jesus do?

      "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!"
      [Matthew 18:6- 7]

      Don't be a sneering apologist for jihadi mass murderers your whole life, mike.

      August 5, 2010 at 3:13 pm |
  14. robert

    The purpose of this building is to create peace and understanding between faiths. That approach, more than anything else, will reduce the conflict we've been experiencing. Meanwhile the people who oppose this are perpetuating the same hate and intolerance that lead us to this tragedy in the first place. It seems that the only thing some people learn from the past is how to make things worse.

    August 5, 2010 at 9:03 am |
    • Adrian

      It's in the fiancial district no one lives there, all this mosque is for is advancing their own religion.

      August 5, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
    • Kaddafi_Delenda_Est

      The purpose of their mosques are jihadi recruitment and armory.

      This naive' Leftist tolerance of evil is a suicidal.

      Those interested in exploring the history of apartheid Islamo-supremacism in a more scholarly manner may read, “The Legacy of Jihad” @

      August 5, 2010 at 3:04 pm |
  15. David

    "We are not going to back off, we are going to charge full steam ahead on this, and we're gonna see to it that this mosque never gets built on ground zero, on our cemetery,"

    They won't win this suit simply because the basis for their filing it isn't what they say it is. This has nothing to do with wanting to designate this building as a landmark structure but everything to do with preventing a mosque from being built here. I bet there would be minimal or no opposition to tearing down this "landmark structure" to build a $100 million Catholic church and community center. The guys spearheading this effort are hypocrits.

    August 5, 2010 at 8:51 am |
  16. Doba

    Some Irish drink, but should we fear our Irish neighbors as drunken wife-abusers? Some Italians join the Mafia, but should we fear our Italian neighbors as criminals? The answer is, of course, no. Some Muslims join extremist groups, but that doesn't mean we suspect all of being terrorists or part of some conspiracy against us. Oy vey.

    August 5, 2010 at 8:48 am |
  17. joe

    I don't what anybody argues about the morality of the situation... it is a slap in the face to all those who lost their lives that day.. and will be a sneering reminder of the fact that over 2000 innocent people lost their lives to a religion, who in the modern word, still can't seem to get their heads out of their barbaric behinds.

    August 5, 2010 at 8:43 am |
  18. liz

    The US Constitution isn't there just to protect the right of those we have warm, fuzzy feelings about. It there tp protect everybiody's religious freedoms even those of law abiding US Muslims.

    August 5, 2010 at 8:40 am |
  19. Doba

    Well, 90% of the comments on this page demonstrate one overwhelming fact: many, many Americans no very little about Islam, and what they do know is about the extremists, who are then wrongly thought to represent all Muslims. Simply put – they do not. Islam is not some medieval conspiracy of conquest seeking to destroy the West (just like the West is not a Crusader-Jewish conspiracy seeking to destroy Islam – though the ignorant on both sides imagine this to be so in their paranoid phantasies). Please acquaint yourself with Sufism – it is the lifeblood of Islam, where most Muslims get their spiritual sustenance, and where the mercy and love in Islam are found most visibly.

    August 5, 2010 at 8:38 am |
  20. Brett

    @ MarkinFL – It wasn't just Saudi's. It was a group of people, including Saudi Arabians, Egyptians, and Afghans, all of whom were hidden and trained by Pakistanis, and all of who were of Muslim faith. So yes, blaming Muslims for 9/11 is perfectly logical, being that the span of countries responsible for it are numerous.

    August 5, 2010 at 8:36 am |
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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.