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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. the great allah mohamad cult leader

    THIS IS NOT A RELIGION, ITS A CULT THAT NEEDS TO BE DESTROYED AT ALL COSTS.

    "If you fear treachery from any of your allies, you may fairly retaliate by breaking off your treaty with them." (Surah 8:51-)

    "...make war on the leaders of unbelief...Make war on them: God will chastise them at your hands and humble them. He will grant you victory over them..." (Surah 9:12-)

    "Fight against such as those to whom the Scriptures were given [Jews and Christians]...until they pay tribute out of hand and are utterly subdued." (Surah 9:27-)

    "If you do not fight, He will punish you sternly, and replace you by other men." (Surah 9:37-)

    "Prophet make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them. Hell shall be their home." (Surah 9:73)

    "Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal firmly with them." (Surah 9:121-)

    August 4, 2010 at 11:17 pm |
    • Gold Leader

      cult leader, this is Gold Leader. We are ready to set up our attack run.

      August 4, 2010 at 11:20 pm |
    • Anonymous

      http://www.basetree.com/thumbs2/Shut_Up_Fox.jpg

      August 4, 2010 at 11:20 pm |
    • Red Leader

      Set foils in the attack position.

      August 4, 2010 at 11:24 pm |
    • Luke

      Red Five standing by...

      August 4, 2010 at 11:25 pm |
    • Neeneko

      Since Islam is a branch of Christianity, then by your logic Christianity needs to be wiped out too.

      August 4, 2010 at 11:43 pm |
    • Abuzayd

      Neenoko, Islam is not a branch of Christianity. Islam is purely monotheistic, nothing is worshipped except for the Creator. The same Creator/God that sent prophets humanity throughout history including Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad(peace be upon them). They all came with the same message, nothing is worthy of worship except God. This simple yet powerful testimony is why, by God's grace, Islam continues to grow and thrive despite all of the bigotry and hatred against it.

      August 5, 2010 at 8:38 am |
  2. My

    Sharia law. Does anyone really know what that is? It is said that when the Muslims come inot a community if you do not convert to their relgion then they will tax the heck out of you. One way or another you will be at their mercy. Sick Sick Sick religion that strips women of their rights, pays suicide bombers families if their child will go blow up another person.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:15 pm |
    • Ari

      Where do they stand regarding suicide missions?

      August 5, 2010 at 12:32 am |
    • fishtownYo

      Not unlike the Catholic Church that equates ordaining women with being worse than pedophilia. Yay, go Christians, that's the way to spread the love. Hypocrites.

      August 5, 2010 at 9:07 am |
  3. Non oof your Business

    Yeah right lets first let them destroy the two buildings and then let them build their mosque there. How do we know that they did not destroy it to clear the way for their own mosque. Somebody said not all the muslims are bad. True. But the muslim churches are the only ones that preach and encourage destruction to america. One of those preachers is currently on the FBI's most wanted list. In a lot of cases mosques serve extremists as an emotional terrorist boot camp. The mosque MUST NOT be built there!!!!!!!!!

    August 4, 2010 at 11:11 pm |
    • Anonymous

      Because they're not building it on top of Ground Zero.

      August 4, 2010 at 11:16 pm |
  4. Randy

    Wait a minute so if someone commits acts of terror their place of worship should be banned from existing in ten mile radius. That would mean no church in Japan where millions died when christian piolts nuked two of their cities killing millions innocent women children and elderly. This would mean no church in Veitnam where hundered of thousdands perished at the hands of chrisian soldiers. The list goes on an on but hey when chrisitans kill or slave people for centuries it is all good in the name of the Lord.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:08 pm |
  5. the great allah mohamad cult leader

    "Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends." (Surah 5:51)

    "Believers, when you encounter the infidels on the march, do not turn your backs to them in flight. If anyone on that day turns his back to them, except it be for tactical reasons...he shall incur the wrath of God and Hell shall be his home..." (Surah 8:12-)

    "Make war on them until idolatry shall cease and God's religion shall reign supreme." (Surah 8:36-)

    THATS WHAT YOU REALLY WANT AT THE SITE OR ANYWERE IN THIS COUNTRY? IF SO YOU ARE JUST AS NUTS AS THEY ARE!!

    August 4, 2010 at 11:05 pm |
  6. Sashland

    "At first, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf insisted the funds would be raised entirely from the Muslim-American community.
    But then he told an Arabic-language newspaper in Britain that funding would also come from Arab countries.
    And it should be noted that Rauf's father was the long-time director of the Islamic Center of New York, which built the mosque on Third Avenue and 96th Street - a project funded primarily by the governments of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other Muslim nations.
    Now, the Saudis openly fund mosques abroad, spreading the radical Wahhabi strain of Islam, as a means of pacifying their own home-grown radicals.
    So it would be particularly troubling if Rauf's funding comes from abroad - particularly from Riyadh.
    Especially given his own disturbing ties to figures like Hossein Mahallati, Iran's former UN ambassador and an unabashed supporter of Hamas.
    Not to mention Rauf's own pointed refusal to label Hamas a terrorist organization - and his statement, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, that "United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.""

    Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/editorials/money_behind_the_mosque_SZDcDNLjX4SwxHmwtES5mK#ixzz0vhHZYoHm

    August 4, 2010 at 11:03 pm |
    • Ari

      What is their view re: Hamas' Charter?

      August 5, 2010 at 12:34 am |
  7. Arligne

    I do not understand the attitude of denying to the center of Prayer. If you were to look at all the emotions are not able to build anything because everything brings back memories. It's time to look forward and not stay stuck in yesterday. Unfortunately already happened, period. The dead leave him alone. And he thinks is a lack of respect, would have to break down the error of that consideration.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:01 pm |
  8. Kevin

    I hope there are no churches anywhere near the Oklahoma City bombing site, or near anywhere an abortion doctor was killed. Actually, we should probably do away with all the churches in the south since the Confederates were Christian.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:00 pm |
  9. the great allah mohamad cult leader

    IF YOU WANT THIS FAIR, HOW ABOUT ASKING ALL THE PEOPLE THAT FOUGHT FOR THIS COUNTRY HOW THEY FEEL ABOUT THIS? BET I CAN GUESS WHAT THEY WILL ANSWER.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:00 pm |
    • Anonymous

      If anything, they'll probably be as split as everyone here is.

      August 4, 2010 at 11:03 pm |
    • Kevin

      I don't care what the people that fought for this country think about this, it doesn't matter. They fought for freedom, our laws and constitution. Part of that freedom they protected is freedom of religion. Christianity has every bit as ugly and violent a history as Islam. Stopping a Mosque from being built near ground zero would be a victory for hate, ignorance, and racism. Any soldier that fought for that should never have been in the military.

      August 4, 2010 at 11:07 pm |
    • FishtownYo

      Maybe they will say that they were used by the wealthy to push their corporate agenda. Where are the rich kids in war? Not in a gun fight!

      August 4, 2010 at 11:08 pm |
    • the great allah mohamad cult leader

      3RD SF GROUP 9TH ID MAIN FT LEWIS WA, I AM PRETTY SURE I KNOW THAT ANSWER

      August 4, 2010 at 11:09 pm |
    • Poe

      I'm guessing they'll either tell the truth or lie, the same as anyone else.
      Not everyone makes it back in one piece. PTSD is not fun.

      August 5, 2010 at 12:58 am |
  10. the great allah mohamad cult leader

    tHEY ARE AND THEY WILL ALWAYS BE KNOWN AS SUCH.

    August 4, 2010 at 10:58 pm |
    • Anonymous

      No, they're not, and they-wait. I know where this is going.

      "Yes."
      "No."
      "Yes."
      "No."

      Pass.

      August 4, 2010 at 10:59 pm |
  11. the great allah mohamad cult leader

    ISLAM IS NOT A RELIGION OF PEACE. ANYONE WHO THINKS THAT HAS NOT READ THE KORAN AND ALL THE OTHER CRAP OUT THERE. I HAVE NEVER IN MY LIFE BEEN A RACIST, BUT THIS MUSLUM CRAP HAS TO GO. FIRST THEY WANTED TO NOT REMOVE THEIR BURKA FOR A DL PICTURE, NOW THEY WANT EXTRA TIME AT WORK TO PRAY, THEY WANT TO ELIMINATE ALL JEWS AND NONBELIEVERS, AND NOT ALL MUSLUMS ARE TERRORISTS BUT ALL TERRORISTS ARE MUSLUM. THEY DESTROY THE TWIN TOWERS OVER JIHAD, A RELIGIOUS WAR AND NOW THEY WANT TO PUT THEIR CRAPPY RELIGION THAT CAUSED THE KILLINGS OF ALL THOSE PEOPLE RIGHT AT THE SITE OF THE DESTRUCTION? THATS SUPOSE TO BE OK? WELL THEN WE WILL PUT A STIPPER CLUB NEXT DOOR, AND AN ART MUSEUM THAT SHOWS PICTURES OF THIS CULT LEADER ALLAH AND MOHAMAD. GO AHEAD AND HAVE ANOTHER ATTACK ON THE UNITED STATES LAND AND SEE HOW LONG THE MUSLUMS AND THEIR RELIGION WILL LAST. WE HAVE OUR OWN FORM OF URBAN WARFARE, STREET GANGS, DRUG DEALERS AND BIKERS, IF THATS NOT ENOUGH WE ALSO HAVE THE CRAZY ONES WITH THEIR OWN MILITARY CAMPS AND HARDWARE JUST LOOKING FOR A REASON TO START A WAR. YOU HAVE NO RIGHT AT ALL TO PUT A MOSQUE THERE. YOU WILL BE HARRASSED AND RIDICULED AND BY DOING THAT YOU WILL ALSO PUT YOUR FOLLOWERS IN DANGER. THIS IS A RELIGION OF PEACE? ITS TIME FOR THE 2ND HALF OF THE CRUSADES ONLY THIS TIME FINISH THE DAM JOB!!!!

    August 4, 2010 at 10:55 pm |
    • Anonymous

      I didn't know that all terrorist are Muslim. Oh wait, that's because they're not all Muslim.

      August 4, 2010 at 10:57 pm |
    • FishtownYo

      So by your reply we can see how peaceful your religion is. You sound like a terrorist yourself there buddy.

      August 4, 2010 at 11:06 pm |
    • FishtownYo

      that was directed at the great allah mohamad cult leader, not anonymous

      August 4, 2010 at 11:06 pm |
    • Poe

      priyath – is that you?

      August 5, 2010 at 12:55 am |
  12. FishtownYo

    Lets open a church across the street and molest children the good ol' Christian way!

    August 4, 2010 at 10:54 pm |
  13. Sashland

    If they want to have dialogue, NOW is the time, not after it is built.

    August 4, 2010 at 10:53 pm |
    • FishtownYo

      where have you been. Dialogues have happened...

      August 4, 2010 at 11:04 pm |
  14. ALEX

    I smell the White house behind this. They also want to send an official party to the Hiroshima memorial ceremony. I wonder how the Japanese are going to feel about that crap?

    August 4, 2010 at 10:51 pm |
  15. ALEX

    Guess why nobody in NYC has a problem with the Amish? "Cause they don't drive their cars down the middle of Broadway during rush hour. They had enough sense to stay to themselves in Pa. where they can enjoy their lifestyle and religious beliefs without interfering or being interfered with. Same thing applies here. Go build the mosque where it does not interefere with NYC's sensitivity and your lifestyle will not be interfered with. Otherwise, you are merely looking for confrontation and believe me we are prepard to help you find what you are looking for.

    August 4, 2010 at 10:49 pm |
    • Anonymous

      Not really, since the Muslims are only asking for a mosque as opposed to getting all of NYC to change to their way or something (not saying that the Amish are doing that or anything)

      August 4, 2010 at 10:54 pm |
    • Non oof your Business

      AMEN brotha!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      August 4, 2010 at 11:59 pm |
  16. Art

    This is pure insanity. How about a memorial to Hitler at Aushwitz, a memorial to Custter at Little Big Horn, a memorial to Empoer Hirahito at Pearl Harbor? You people in favor of this are just plain NUTS.

    August 4, 2010 at 10:44 pm |
    • Anonymous

      Explain to me how a place of worship is the same as a statue praising dude who wanted to kill people that didn't fit his idea of perfection.

      August 4, 2010 at 10:47 pm |
  17. Steve

    No way

    August 4, 2010 at 10:43 pm |
  18. rpn

    Greg – you keep repeating the lie that McVeigh was a Christian. He was not. A book written by two journalists on the Oklahoma City bombing provides pretty clear evidence about this. He was anti-government, but not religious.

    The question of the mosque is really not about "rights" – Muslims do have a right to build a mosque there if the city gives its permission to do so. But there is a question of sensitivity. And I do think it shows a lack of sensitivity to build a mosque that close to Ground Zero. There are plenty of other places to build – rather than exacerbate raw feelings on the matter and cause more anger, why not just find another spot? I actually think the siting of the mosque is counterproductive if the builders really want to promote interfaith harmony.

    Oh, and stop portraying all opponents of the mosque as being "right wing" – I think plenty of people who are clearly not right wing oppose siting a mosque where it is.

    August 4, 2010 at 10:42 pm |
  19. LetEmSquirm

    hehe keep squirming, the mosque will be built and it will be a great victory.

    August 4, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
  20. Albert B

    I aree that there are moderate muslims. However, why don't those moderate muslims prove their intentions and decline from building a mosque where it is not wanted ? Surely they can understand that it is raw wound ?

    August 4, 2010 at 10:39 pm |
    • Ari

      I disagree. Moderate is in the eye of the beholder, and statistics of the site, Cordova and Lower Manhattan are NOT on their side. He is NOT a moderate voice of Islam unless HE explicitly and publicly is willing to 
denounce Hamas' Charter
; Suicide missions; 
f g m
; scriptural interpretations of a woman's status as submissive to man by nature in all spheres; 
Velayat-e Faghih
Muslim Brotherhood; 
Zakat from Terrorist enablers;
Anti-semitic educational curricula. Maybe the FBI is lenient in its profiling and classification but it is not enough to call out terrorists to not be a radical muslim. There's got to be more.

      August 5, 2010 at 12:25 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.