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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. Muhammad

    Salaams fellow drmeear. The level of hate and venom coming out over the last year has been far worse than after 9/11. People have a real knee jerk reaction at the word Muslim or burqa or sharia etc, yet choose to be educated by the likes of Bill O'Reilly and Sharon Angle being to lazy or too stupid to do any authentic research or thought on their own. We have now become the rallying cry against pluralism and equality for the right. They want to turn back the clock because they can't accept that things are really changing for people like themselves. Nice looking blog, Ahmed. Rock on.

    October 10, 2012 at 1:18 am |
  2. Khaled Al-Radadi

    These Americans are very racists because they do not want to build an Islamic center. These Americans are fascists because they are against tolerance and religious freedom. All Muslims are shocked because of this racism. Muslims respect any American who supports the idea of building an Islamic center in any site in America. The American people is wonderful, so they must stand against this racism

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam

    Khaled

    September 6, 2010 at 8:05 am |
  3. Maggie

    Then landmark status should be granted to ground zero waco and ground zero move in philly. Those violent acts were against the American citizens by the American government.

    As well, muslims need to start demanding the right to polygamous marriage now that the road is cleared by the homosexuals to 'do their thing'.

    "I don't think the Muslim leadership has fully appreciated the impact of 9/11 on America. They assume Americans have forgotten 9/11 and even, in a profound way, forgiven 9/11, and that has not happened. The wounds remain largely open," said Akbar Ahmed, an Islamic studies professor at American University in Washington, D.C.

    Au contrare! We know that because what Israel and the US have done to massacre hundreds of THOUSANDS of muslim over the past 60 years in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq and now Afghanistan.

    Not only should a mosque be built at ground zero but one in every back yard of every sleepy little village in the land.

    They'll be needing a place to go when they submit.

    August 17, 2010 at 1:18 am |
  4. Acmed Shams

    either way, ..... We should be wary of overt islamophobia, and be careful to single out extremists, such as the Taliban.
    You absolutely MUST see this:

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9aw6Cnw0hY&w=640&h=360]

    August 12, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
    • Americano

      GUESS WHO CREATED THEM?????

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3u3JSEqNtlg&w=640&h=360]

      September 14, 2010 at 9:13 am |
  5. davec.0121

    1) The U.S. Constitution guarantees free religious expression for everyone. Catholics, Jews, Evangelicals, Mormons, Muslims. Even the Baptists who revel in the deaths of American service men and women. Should we ban Baptist churches being built close to military installations or national cemetaries?
    2) To blindly equate the 9/11 terrorists with all Muslims is absurd. Did we equate all Irish with terrorists when a wing of the IRA killed 28 people with a car bomb?
    3) The surest way to foster a climate of fear and hatred (and encourage jihad) is to single out American Muslims to be marginalized and discriminated against because of their religion. It is exactly what bin-Ladin is looking for - a culture war.

    This is the United States. We are supposed to be and should be better than the ignorance and intolerance that surrounds this issue.

    August 11, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  6. Ron

    Tim Brown, you are an ignorant, bigoted, attention seeking idiot. It is appaling to know that you were hired into public service– you need to be shipped to one of those intolarant states in the middle east, to experience the religious intolarance that you crave to impose in our country.

    August 9, 2010 at 11:14 am |
  7. Tyson Bam

    Just because you have the freedom to do something doesn't mean you should do it.
    Pork Plant Opens Next to Mosque Next to Ground Zero (great satire)
    http://rancornews.com/nymosque.html

    August 6, 2010 at 8:00 pm |
  8. Progressive Christian, Enjoys Free Nation

    If no mosque is allowed to be built anywhere near Ground Zero (this location is not near ground zero, stay out of our city politics, outsiders), then would it not be reasonable to say that no Catholic church may be built in Oklahoma City?

    Some Americans love freedom so much, they want it all to themselves. I want to share it with all Americans.

    August 6, 2010 at 1:38 pm |
  9. much2say

    much2say
    Let's wake up! The organizers will not back down form building this mosque, just by looking at the name meaning, the building's purpose is to establish a domain. They will not be sensitive to 9/11. This is about establishing a lasting symbol of domain. They will only be sensitive to getting the right people in power and influence to support their effort. Every legal effort should me made to halt building this symbol of muslim domain. Establish a monument to the people who have suffered and endured great loss and not a domain of islam.

    Córdoba
    "City (pop., 2001: 308,072), capital of Córdoba province, southern Spain. On the banks of the Guadalquivir River, it probably had Carthaginian origins. Occupied by the Romans in 152 BC, it became, under Augustus, the capital of the Roman province of Baetica. It declined under the Visigoths (6th – 8th centuries AD), and it was captured by the Muslims in 711. Abd al-Rahman I, of the Umayyad family, made it his capital in 756 and founded the Great Mosque of Córdoba, which still stands. By the 10th century it was the largest city in Europe, filled with palaces and mosques. It fell to the Castilian king Ferdinand III in 1236 and became part of Christian Spain. Modern Córdoba's streets and buildings evoke its Moorish heritage."

    August 6, 2010 at 11:07 am |
    • Progressive Christian, Enjoys Free Nation

      I was unaware Spain was an Islamic state, thank you for your keen copy-paste-from-wikipedia insight on history. Personally, having seen it up close many times, I love Spain's Moorish architecture; it's vibrant and powerful and beautiful. I understand how it is difficult for a majority to lose its stranglehold on power, not even to be relegated a minority, simply to be placed on an even playing field with others. It doesn't feel nearly as good as being an absolutist in power.

      August 6, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
    • Bob

      much2say should learn to stop2think. What part of your argument negates the first amendment again?

      August 6, 2010 at 3:01 pm |
  10. John doe

    Look on September 11, 2001 3000 people were brutally murdered in the worst terrorist attack this country has ever seen by a group of Islamic extremeists. Over the past 2 years we have seen that this group is larger than we think and they want to kill every person in this wonderful country so should this mosque be built absolutly not we should not honor the killing of so many Americans by allowing a " victory flag" yo be put up near ground zero. Think of it like this has anyone tried to build a monument to hitler or the Nazis no they haven't. And by the way there is already an Islamic center about 20 blocks north at nyu

    August 6, 2010 at 10:07 am |
    • Bob

      John, what this sounds like is blind speculation mixed in with ignorance and a lack of intelligence.

      Do you have some sort of evidence that the motivation for this building is a "victory flag"?

      Of course not.

      August 6, 2010 at 2:59 pm |
  11. John doe

    I agree this is just like spitting on the graves of 3000 people that were murdered.

    August 6, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  12. Sashland

    Hmm, doesn't "reconciliation" require accepting responsibility for the part you have played in the damage?

    Where have muslims accepted responsibility for the part islam has played in the 9/11 attack?

    All I hear is denial of responsibility and blaming of other.

    Any experts on "reconciliation" care to comment?

    August 6, 2010 at 9:53 am |
  13. Sashland

    If the true goal of building the mosk is reconciliation, it has already failed in its first step.

    The builders are insensitive, even if within their legal rights.

    It will now be a focus of unrest and conflict.

    Maybe that's good.

    Maybe it will force "moderate" muslims to address the intolerance within their own religion.

    August 6, 2010 at 9:41 am |
  14. ALEX

    Muhammed is a cartoon!

    August 5, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  15. whatinit

    Islam

    Just read, absorb it and pass it on.

    Islam is not a religion, nor is it a cult. In its fullest form, it is a complete, total, 100% system of life.

    Islam has religious, legal, political, economic, social, and military components. The religious component is a beard for all of the other components.

    Islamization begins when there are sufficient Muslims in a country to agitate for their religious privileges.

    When politically correct, tolerant, and culturally diverse societies agree to Muslim demands for their religious privileges, some of the other components tend to creep in as well.

    Here’s how it works:

    As long as the Muslim population remains around or under 2% in any given country, they will be, for the most part, be regarded as a peace-loving minority, and not as a threat to other citizens. This is the case in:

    United States — Muslim 0.6%
    Australia — Muslim 1.5%
    Canada — Muslim 1.9%
    China — Muslim 1.8%
    Italy — Muslim 1.5%
    Norway — Muslim 1.8%

    At 2% to 5%, they begin to proselytize from other ethnic minorities and disaffected groups, often with major recruiting from the jails and among street gangs. This is happening in:

    Denmark — Muslim 2%
    Germany — Muslim 3.7%
    United Kingdom — Muslim 2.7%
    Spain — Muslim 4%
    Thailand — Muslim 4..6%

    From 5% on, they exercise an inordinate influence in proportion to their percentage of the population. For example, they will push for the introduction of halal (clean by Islamic standards) food, thereby securing food preparation jobs for Muslims. They will increase pressure on supermarket chains to feature halal on their shelves — along with threats
    for failure to comply. This is occurring in:

    France — Muslim 8%
    Philippines — Muslim 5%
    Sweden — Muslim 5%
    Switzerland — Muslim 4.3%
    The Netherlands — Muslim 5.5%
    Trinidad & Tobago — Muslim 5.8%

    At this point, they will work to get the ruling government to allow them to rule themselves (within their ghettos) under Sharia, the Islamic Law. The ultimate goal of Islamists is to establish Sharia law over the entire world.!

    When Muslims approach 10% of the population, they tend to increase lawlessness as a means of complaint about their conditions. In Paris , we are already seeing car-burnings. Any non-Muslim action offends Islam, and results in uprisings and threats, such as in Amsterdam , with opposition to Mohammed cartoons and films about Islam. Such tensions are seen daily, particularly in Muslim sections, in:

    Guyana — Muslim 10%
    India — Muslim 13.4%
    Israel — Muslim 16%
    Kenya — Muslim 10%
    Russia — Muslim 15%

    After reaching 20% , nations can expect hair-trigger rioting, jihad militia formations, sporadic killings, and the burnings of Christian churches and Jewish synagogues, such as in:

    Ethiopia — Muslim 32.8%

    At 40% , nations experience widespread massacres, chronic terror attacks, and ongoing militia warfare, such as in:

    Bosnia — Muslim 40%
    Chad — Muslim 53.1%
    Lebanon — Muslim 59.7%

    From 60% , nations experience unfettered persecution of non-believers of all other religions (including non-conforming Muslims), sporadic ethnic cleansing (genocide), use of Sharia Law as a weapon, and Jizya, the tax
    placed on infidels, such as in:

    Albania — Muslim 70%
    Malaysia — Muslim 60.4%
    Qatar — Muslim 77.5%
    Sudan — Muslim 70%

    After 80% , expect daily intimidation and violent jihad, some State-run ethnic cleansing, and even some genocide, as these nations drive out the infidels, and move toward 100% Muslim, such as has been experienced and in some ways is on-going in:

    Bangladesh — Muslim 83%
    Egypt — Muslim 90%
    Gaza — Muslim 98.7%
    Indonesia — Muslim 86.1%
    Iran — Muslim 98%
    Iraq — Muslim 97%
    Jordan — Muslim 92%
    Morocco — Muslim 98.7%
    Pakistan — Muslim 97%
    Palestine — Muslim 99%
    Syria — Muslim 90%
    Tajikistan — Muslim 90%
    Turkey — Muslim 99.8%
    United Arab Emirates — Muslim 96%

    100% will usher in the peace of ‘Dar-es-Salaam’ — the Islamic House of Peace. Here there’s supposed to be peace, because everybody is a Muslim, the Madrasses are the only schools, and the Koran is the only word, such as in:

    Afghanistan — Muslim 100 %
    Saudi Arabia — Muslim 100%
    Somalia — Muslim 100%
    Yemen — Muslim 100%

    Unfortunately, peace is never achieved, as in these 100% states the most radical Muslims intimidate and spew hatred, and satisfy their blood lust by killing less radical Muslims, for a variety of reasons.

    ‘Before I was nine I had learned the basic canon of Arab life. It was me against my brother; me and my brother against our father; my family against my cousins and the clan; the clan against the tribe; the tribe against the world, and all of us against the infidel. — Leon Uris, ‘The Haj’

    It is important to understand that in some countries, with well under 100% Muslim populations, such as France, the minority Muslim populations live in ghettos, within which they are 100% Muslim, and within which they live by Sharia Law. The national police do not even enter these ghettos. There are no national courts, nor schools, nor non-Muslim religious facilities. In such situations, Muslims do not integrate into the community at large. The children attend madrasses. They learn only the Koran. To even associate with an infidel is a crime punishable with death. Therefore, in some areas of certain nations, Muslim Imams and extremists exercise more power than the national average would indicate.

    Today’s 1.5 billion Muslims make up 22% of the world’s population. But their birth rates dwarf the birth rates of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, and all other believers. Muslims will exceed 50% of the world’s population by the end of this century at their current rate of reproduction.

    Adapted from Dr. Peter Hammond’s book:

    Slavery, Terrorism and Islam: The Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat

    This is scary. Here is some serious reading for serious thinkers.

    Now that you know, what we will do with this knowledge?

    August 5, 2010 at 11:46 am |
    • Gary

      Wathinit, nice post on statistics very alarming....Slavery and terrorism @ one time very prominent in Christianity too. I think the one reason China is such a productive growing nation is the fact that most of the population is still secular..

      August 5, 2010 at 12:00 pm |
    • Adrian

      Gary China is growing is because the majority of their population is made up of factory workers who work for peanuts and safety and cleaning standards are non-exsistent. If the chinese gov. had more modern standards and wasn't the worlds factory they'd be back to being a third world nation. Besides most are Taoists and confusionists but the gov. tries to keep it down.

      August 5, 2010 at 2:28 pm |
    • Reality

      Whatnit,

      And the following just adds to your scenario:

      Muslim convert journalist Stephen Schwartz, American Jewish Committee terrorism expert Yehudit Barsky, and U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer have all separately testified to a growing radical Islamist Wahhabi influence in U.S. mosques, financed by extremist groups. According to Barsky, 80% of U.S. mosques are so radicalized.

      August 5, 2010 at 4:39 pm |
    • Bob

      GOd is not building a religion. He is building relationships with anyone who wants to join HIS family by repenting of their sins and accepting Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour and asks GOD to fill them with HIS HOLY SPIRIT and power.
      GOD is asking us to trust HIM and to love GOD first and to love each other.

      August 5, 2010 at 9:22 pm |
    • davec.0121

      @whatinit: this particular rant, filled as it is with pseudo-facts and mis-information, would be downright silly if it were not so tragic. You really need to rely on other sources. For example: France, which is apparently threatened by Islam, is banning the full veil (niqab) in public. Malaysia, while dominantly Muslim, is very tolerant of other religions, with churches, Hindu temples, and Buddhist temples. You can even get a beer there. Many places in the U.S. sell Halal food, which is in fact similar to Kosher food, which is also sold in many places. When it comes to ethnic cleansing, the Kosovo and Bosnia Muslims have nothing on the Christian Serbs and Croats. I could go on but I'm sure it would be pointless to argue against some so rooted in ignorance

      August 11, 2010 at 5:52 pm |
  16. Bushpig61

    Greg, are you a liberal doushe?

    August 5, 2010 at 11:14 am |
  17. Bushpig61

    Greg said,

    "Your right, a good Christian like Mcveigh detonated his bomb in broad daylight."

    August 4, 2010 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |

    Greg also said,

    "You don't need facts when you rely on fear."
    August 4, 2010 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |

    Hey Greg, McVeigh was an Agnostic. Guess YOU don't need facts EITHER! Even if he WAS Catholic, his motives weren't religeous like the Islamic terrorists were. Apples & oranges.

    August 5, 2010 at 11:12 am |
    • Adrian

      Finaly someone who knows about McVeigh.

      August 5, 2010 at 2:30 pm |
    • Jeje

      Asalaamu alaikum. How very intrnestieg. I too googled freethinking muslims' on a whim and it led me to this particular blog! My attempt in doing the search was prompted by trying to get a better feel for Muslims who were more advanced, free, forward thinking etc in their deen. Unfortunately I have come across so many who do not know Islam despite having been born and raised in the religion! For me, free thinking' means a Muslim who is not afraid to learn on their own and question ideas and actions that have been handed down to them by their culture/families etc in order to verify whether or not its actually a valid part of Islam established in the Qu'ran or Sunnah. So much bi'dah exists because people are afraid or unwilling to learn for themselves and to follow the real Islam irrespective of their particular background or influences. Thank you for opening the door for this discussion. I think its very relevant.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
  18. MC

    Here's a question for American Muslims:

    Why are you living in the US and not your homeland? Was there a reason why you and your ancestors left your homeland?
    Let's live in peace, but let's also try and understand everyone's current concerns!

    August 5, 2010 at 10:35 am |
    • richard

      Why is that a question for American Muslims in particular? Was there a reason YOUR ancestors left their homeland? The answer is probably the same- they were either fleeing persecution, or they were looking for a better life.

      August 5, 2010 at 11:09 am |
  19. WAKE UP

    There are currently over 200 mosques in NYC. Why do they insist on building at this location? Part of one of the planes crashed through the roof of this building- and yet the Landmark Preservation Committee, backed by Bloomberg, voted unanimously to deny the people of NYC landmark status for a building that clearly qualifies for it. Follow the money...from the president, to the govenor, to the mayor – hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. islamic tradition is to build on or as close to your victims as a symbol of triumph.
    Under the guise of peace and goodwill, they employ this Imam, who has blamed US for 911 attacks, has said Hamas is not a terrorist org., and will not fully disclose financial backing. He has scheduled the openeing of the peaceful mosque to be on 9/11/2011. This will be before the 911 memorial is completed. ANY QUESTIIONS? He is also in favor of sharia law being imposed here.
    Even the address 45-47 Park Place, equals 9-11- which is bizarre.
    This is not about anyone being denied the right to practice their religion- as the mayor keeps repeating-it is about the spiteful and deliberate choice of this location to disrespect the families of 911 and dishonor the souls that perished there.
    This is an outrage.

    August 5, 2010 at 9:52 am |
  20. buddy

    then post it!!!!

    August 5, 2010 at 9:26 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.