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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. Arch Angel Michael

    Reading all this bickering is ridiculous. It is the intolerant Muslims that the media portrays, which is the same exact attitude you all have being Christians. It is the First Amendment to the Great Land's Constitution that allows us to speak our minds in this discussion room, but it also protects individuals seeking religious freedom. You can't choose to respect and abide by parts of the law and Constitution. If you're going to exercise your rights of free speech and carry your fire arms, why are you going to impede on someone else's right to practice religion? Just based on the location of where they want to? Land is at a premium in Manhattan and this group of Muslims found a deal. How would you all react if Hindus bought this land, or Buddhists? China has Buddhists, so if Buddhists have a place of worship, they're spreading communism?

    August 5, 2010 at 12:11 am |
  2. Marc

    During 9/11 many muslims in the Middle East were cheering and celebrating to no end. Now they have the audacity to want to build a shrine for these 19 barbaric terrorists who perpetrated this calamity, right next to Ground Zero. Not only did they stick us with the knife, now they wish to swirl it around and around. This is a disgrace and desecration to all the heroes and victims of 9/11.

    August 5, 2010 at 12:00 am |
    • Anonymous

      During 9/11 many muslims in the United States were not. Now they want to build a mosque near Ground Zero for a religion that these 19 terrorists happened to be a part of. Not only are they doing this, but because they want to. This means nothing and you are simply blowing it WAAAAAY out of proportion.

      August 5, 2010 at 12:04 am |
    • Marc

      Have you Seen what muslims are doing to Europe, I guess not, I certainly don't want the US to be as over run with muslims as in many European countries today. Do you for one moment believe they would let us build a church next to a site that's as sacred to them as 9/11 is to us. If you said 'yes' I'm sorry, but you are a moron, big time.

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

      What does the Pope have to do with all this?
      It's true, the Catholic religion has had some violent killings in its name in the past (crusades, etc.), but so has every other majority (and several minority) religions in the United States. Protestants uprooted thousands (if not millions) of native americans from their home and had forced conversions, though I don't think Protestants today are all evil (on the contrary, 99.9999% of them are great). Same goes for Catholics, Jews (well, not so much the violence part), Muslims, etc.
      My point is, everyone needs to learn to be tolerant. Sure, Muslim terrorists attacked us, but given that this was only 19 terrorists out of over 1 billion Muslims worldwide, it hardly seems to be reason to condem them all.

      August 5, 2010 at 12:13 am |
    • Bob

      Sorry – that was named at thekin and not you. My computer is starting to run out of memory.

      August 5, 2010 at 12:15 am |
    • Anonymous

      Y'know how we have freedom of religion 'round here? Yeah, the Mulsims do have their right to have their mosque, whether you like it or not.

      August 5, 2010 at 12:19 am |
    • Marc

      19 terrorists took part in destroying the Twin Towers but lets fact it, not all muslims are terrorists yet most terrorists, today are muslims. Believe it or not.

      August 5, 2010 at 12:26 am |
    • Anonymous

      Actually, not even then. The only real reason we think that Muslims are the only ones that exist are because they're the only ones we truly focus on.

      August 5, 2010 at 12:32 am |
  3. NYC#1

    Islam and Western culture absolutely CANNOT coexist. Period. It's not just a religion. When are you going to get through your thick skulls people. Do some research for your own sake. Most of you are so blind it makes me sick! Maybe after a few more 9/11's you'll start to think.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:57 pm |
    • Anonymous

      The way you put it makes it sound like you want another 9/11. Bravo.

      August 5, 2010 at 12:01 am |
    • eshak

      if that happens then the u.s. bombs and missiles would be an everyday gifts for muslims.

      August 5, 2010 at 12:15 am |
  4. Non oof your Business

    even if they build the mosque there they will put their followers in danger zone. but then next thing they will be demanding is police stay there and protect them something that police do not do for any religion. Why waste our taxes on police to protect someone in particular. If that happens I will demand that police officers' salaries be payed by muslims and not our taxes.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:56 pm |
  5. Ramgrl

    I'm curious in all of the bigoted hate here if anyone actually KNOWS that the building was ALREADY BEING USED FOR RELIGIOUS services and the Cordoba Initiative already owed the building and are planning on rebuilding it because it was damaged on 9/11 from flying debris?? Did the people having a hissy fit actually READ the article, or are people just spewing out of ignorance as is typical lately. The "group" that claims the building hasn't been "searched"...seriously??? It's been almost NINE years...you could have searched the entire state of New York in that amount of time. What were you waiting on? The fact that Cordoba waited....rather than rebuilding right after 9/11 like they had the right to since they own the property...IS your respect! Since we want to bar religious freedom...why not start with groups like Westboro Baptist Church who spread messages of hate toward anything that isn't white or right in their eyes?? Oh, yeah....cause they're Christian. Not to mention that the location is THREE blocks from ground zero...not underneath the WTC site. Tim McVeigh was Catholic but no one is condemning every church around for 100 miles. Same old America, same old double standard. And people wonder why I have no desire to be a part of any religion, because you are all interested in spewing hate about anything that isn't in your little box of beliefs.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:50 pm |
    • Anonymous

      Meh, hatred without thought. What's new here?

      August 4, 2010 at 11:55 pm |
    • Dennis

      Ramgrl...how do you feel about 9/11? Did you shed one tear for those poor people that jumped from those buildings in OUR country or did you laugh like all the good little muslims did? Do you hate us because we support the Israelis? This is a Christian nation you little jerk-off and you know what, we as a Christian nation did something pretty special here, liberty for all, that's why we are allowing a shrine to muslims that support the destruction of western civilization. If so many people are hurt by this building then why don't you be tolerant to us. For once show support for us faith instead of the other way around.

      August 5, 2010 at 12:01 am |
    • Anonymous

      Dennis.......think before you type. And don't respond with "Oh i did" because it's very evident you didn't.

      August 5, 2010 at 12:05 am |
    • Murf

      @Ramgrl – I don't recall there ever being a connection between T. McVeigh and his religious beliefs/spirituality acting as the firepowder to that fertilizer bomb. No, he was just crazy. And while the antic of the members of the Westboro Baptist Church are despicable, to the best of my knowledge they haven't killed anyone. No, that's what all of you seem to forget, these murderers perpitrated this acting SOLELY in the name of their god, their religion. Let's not forget that it was islamic fundamentalism that killed these Americans. And I agree with the more articulate posters who have come down on the side of this being wrong as it is wholly insensitive. Pretty classless if you ask me.

      August 5, 2010 at 12:06 am |
    • Dennis

      tolerance, tolerance, tolerance....OK, but when you Muslims detonate a dirty nuclear bomb on our soil then I guarantee you that every single dirty, filthy muslim will be dragged into the streets and be held accountable for the "extremest" actions.

      August 5, 2010 at 12:13 am |
    • Anonymous

      You're saying that as if you know this will happen.

      August 5, 2010 at 12:23 am |
    • Dennis

      "extremist" have already proven they will use whatever methods to destroy western culture, cars, airplanes...there are so many nukes on the market (east europe, russia) or rogue states like north korea that would sell technology to "extremist". It seems highly likely because A.) there is motivation and B.) there is a market. God save us all if it did happen.

      August 5, 2010 at 12:39 am |
    • Anonymous

      The key word is "EXTREMISTS". Not all people will resort to that, y'know.

      August 5, 2010 at 12:44 am |
  6. Charlotte

    It should not be built because it would be more hurtful than not. The motive is what I am questioning.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:48 pm |
  7. Terry from west Texas

    Most people, I suppose, would call me an atheist because I do not believe that there is a gigantic, non-material, omnipotent, omniscient, invisible, odorless, silent, touchless, and tasteless Personality that continuously wishes to have His celestial Caboose kissed 24/7. I would say that I believe in God, Who resides in the minds of believers and nowhere else. Despite His non-existence, many of us act as if He really existed. That said ...

    I treasure the concepts of "Freedom of Religion" and "Separation of Church and State."

    Freedom of religion is also the freedom not to believe in the gods (for you polytheists) and God (for you monotheists). I don't want some policeman poking me in the back with a night stick asking me to recite the Lord's Prayer to prove that I am a Christian. That (more or less) is what used to happen in North America before our (God love them) Founding Fathers wrote that most sacred of all documents the US Constitution.

    The Separation of Church and State means that our many governments (federal, state, local) must all pretend that religion simply doesn't exist.

    Our governments cannot pretend that all religions are true, because only one of them (if we are lucky) is the Really Real, Truly True Faith. The others are false.

    Our governments cannot choose one of our religions and proclaim it to be The Official Religion of America because there is no religion that can claim a majority of Americans. We are fragmented into hundreds of Protestant churches, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and a smattering of every religion on earth. Our governments could not possibly discern the One True Faith among all of those competing belief systems.

    So, our governments simply have to pretend that there is no such thing as religion. If good Muslims want to build a mosque near the former locations of the Twin Towers and they have the property and permits and so on, then no good American would want to deny them the same rights that Christians have to build a cathedral there, that Jews have the right to build a synagogue there, or that the Carnegie Foundation has a right to build a library there (God bless the soul of that builder of libraries Andrew Carnegie).

    Who can say otherwise?

    August 4, 2010 at 11:45 pm |
  8. Dennis

    CNN cracks me up. They have an article on how Ann Rice lost her faith in Christ. You would never see an article on how a Muslim lost their faith of islam or mohammed.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:44 pm |
    • Ari

      Will they tolerate such a Muslim to give a sponsored lecture on site?

      August 5, 2010 at 12:30 am |
  9. TheBossIsOut

    If a California judge can overthrow the voting of the majority on same $ex marriage because he believes the rights of the minority are being violated, and if the majority of people posting on CNN are indicating that they are thrilled by this, then I sure as hell hope that they are equally thrilled and support the minority here (Moslems) and give them all your support to build where they have the right to.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:42 pm |
    • Anonymous

      Agreed. Just because people hate it, dun make it wrong.

      August 4, 2010 at 11:53 pm |
  10. thekin

    The New York Officials seem to have this inability to think in 4th Dimensional terms. Mayor Bloomberg needs to go back and watch Back to the Future and try to imagine how the decisions he makes today will carry on into the future.

    This Community Center is a Ship being sent out by Radical Islam to Dock in New York City and infest the Ground Zero Mosque as a refuge for Pilgrims to come and bask in the success of Islam. It is a mosque, designed to encourage settlement of the area, complete with Islam friendly recreational activities. A sanctuary center to call people to worship Islam while pointing the finger at the U.S. for the crime of 9/11.

    New York City will become a Mecca for Muslim Pilgrims. Soon after, the city will be completely Islamic. Calls to Prayer will go out throughout the city where the WTC once stood & Osama Bin Laden will have his victory because of American's wanting to pander to Moderate Muslims and promote an image of Moderate Islam.

    That said, I will conclude with this:

    No American that serves the Pope should ever be allowed President and on that same note, no American that bows to Mecca should ever be considered American either.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:38 pm |
  11. thekin

    The New York Officials seem to have this inability to think in 4th Dimensional terms. Mayor Bloomberg needs to go back and watch Back to the Future and try to imagine how the decisions he makes today will carry on into the future.

    This Community Center is a Ship being sent out by Radical Islam to Dock in New York City and infest the Ground Zero Mosque as a refuge for Pilgrims to come and bask in the success of Islam. It is a mosque, designed to encourage settlement of the area, complete with Islam friendly recreational activities. A sanctuary center to call people to worship Islam while pointing the finger at the U.S. for the crime of 9/11.

    New York City will become a Mecca for Muslim Pilgrims. Soon after, the city will be completely Islamic. Calls to Prayer will go out throughout the city where the WTC once stood & Osama Bin Laden will have his victory because of American's wanting to pander to Moderate Muslims and promote an image of Moderate Islam.

    That said, I will conclude with this:

    No American that serves the Pope should ever be allowed President and on that same note, no American that bows to Mecca should ever be considered American either.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:37 pm |
    • Anonymous

      *gazes into future; sees mosque there. everything else is about the same as if the mosque was never built*

      k.

      August 4, 2010 at 11:52 pm |
  12. Suval

    ILeave it to Pat Pobertson's group to continually raise the racist,bigoted flag. Someone should outlaw them!! If the people wanting to build this Mosque were Catholics, Baptists, Jews or Mormons, people would be out helping them raise funds. This country seems to be listening to racists and narrow minded people who are intolerant of cultures and religions that do not look like the ones to which they belong.

    Leave the Muslims alone. This mosque is TWO blocks from ground Zero. The complainers and families, Pat Robertson and the Republicans should NOT be allowed to take over the whole area near the Towers and they should not be allowed to say who can and cannot build or what Church or religious centers can be built. Yes 9/11 was a sad day,a great tragedy but the City of NY and the entire area own near Twin Towers should not be held hostage to the irrational and intolerant thinking of a few bigots. We do not blame an entire race or religion for the wrong doing of a few.Our mistake,as a Nation, was letting this thinking go as far as it has. Better leadership under the last Admin and this Admin might have stopped this hatred before it became so stupid and illogical. Stop thinking like uneducated pre K and try practicing the tolerance set forth in our own Constitution,something the Sarah Palens and Pat Robertsons of the world just do not get!!!

    August 4, 2010 at 11:30 pm |
  13. the great allah mohamad cult leader

    WE SHOULD ALL PITCH IN AND BUY THE BUILDING NEXT DOOR AND TURN IT INTO A STRIP CLUB AND CALL IT MOHAMADS HUMMERS OR ALLAH'S PARADISE

    August 4, 2010 at 11:30 pm |
  14. ho

    Muslims trying to build a mosque on ground zero is absolutely disgusting. Who the hell do they think they are? First they attack our country, and now they want to rub it in our faces by building a mosque???

    August 4, 2010 at 11:27 pm |
    • TimToolmanTaylor

      agreed...rite on the money....filthy religion..we should be jailing the muslims not giving them another mosque

      August 4, 2010 at 11:31 pm |
    • Anonymous

      You seem to be confusing regular Muslims with Muslim extremists.

      August 4, 2010 at 11:51 pm |
    • Abuzayd

      'our country'??, wasn't this country built on the blood and labor of forced slavery, slaves most of whom were MUSLIMS when they were rounded up in north and western africa and forced to lose their religion and adopt the slave master's religion.

      more than a third of the muslims in this country are Black american MUSLIMS, so it is as much if not more their country than yours.

      August 5, 2010 at 8:47 am |
  15. get real

    maybe all muslims arent bad but right now i cant tell the good ones from the terrorists so why take the chance. dont let them build their terrorist school on ground zero

    August 4, 2010 at 11:24 pm |
    • Non oof your Business

      amen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      August 4, 2010 at 11:52 pm |
    • Anonymous

      For the same reason you can't tell which person you know is gonna snap and start going on a killing spree.

      August 4, 2010 at 11:54 pm |
  16. the great allah mohamad cult leader

    Anonymous

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

    August 4, 2010 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |

    YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH

    August 4, 2010 at 11:22 pm |
    • Anonymous

      The truth? Or some stupid garbage that you pass off as "trolling"?

      August 4, 2010 at 11:49 pm |
  17. Biggs

    I have a bad feeling about this. There's too many of them.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:21 pm |
    • Luke

      I've lost R2

      August 4, 2010 at 11:22 pm |
    • Admiral Akbar

      It's a TRAP!

      August 5, 2010 at 12:59 am |
  18. Act For Americans

    Their strategy can be summed up by a quote from the May 1992 memo from the European Fatwa Council Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi to Muslim Brotherhood members:
    "The Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and "sabotaging" its miserable house by their hands and by the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions. "

    August 4, 2010 at 11:21 pm |
    • Ari

      What is their position on the Muslim Brotherhood?

      August 5, 2010 at 12:26 am |
    • Momo

      hehehe.. thats pretty funny. Well, I'm a muslim and I have no idea who this Yusuf cat is and I dont really care about his evil master plan for all muslims to take over America and convert all its people to lil muslim minions. Seriously man?? Dont believe the hype... Muslim Brotherhood?? man, you make us sound like a prison gang? Stop watching too many movies.

      August 5, 2010 at 2:02 am |
      • Wake-Up

        You are not a muslim. A true muslim would never speak against one of their own. There is also the part where you are allowed to lie if it benefits islam. If you live in the USA you should be an American.
        Theodore Roosevelt's ideas on Immigrants and being an AMERICAN in 1907.

        "In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, 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. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American ... There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag ... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language ... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

        Theodore Roosevelt 1907

        August 5, 2010 at 8:15 am |
        • MarkinFL

          He's right. No one should put their God above our country. The protection of our people and the Constitution that guarantees their freedom should be valued above any single personal belief.

          August 5, 2010 at 8:35 am |
        • David

          @Wake-Up
          "...If you live in the USA you should be an American."

          Are you suggesting that we deport all permanent resident aliens from the USA who's citizenship and allegiance lies elsewhere?

          August 5, 2010 at 8:59 am |
        • 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."

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

          August 5, 2010 at 9:10 am |
        • Brett

          Valid arguement. I'm not saying that we need to discriminate against the majority of Muslims, but to say that Muslims were responsible for 9/11 is factual. The same can be said about Catholics being child molesters. Not all of them are, but a large group of Catholic priests have admitted to molesting children. To be honest, I don't know which one is worse; being a child molester or a terrorist! :-p

          August 5, 2010 at 9:29 am |
        • M.

          You're quoting someone from a time when racial segregation was OK, when woman were not equals and the white man was number one. Nice.

          August 5, 2010 at 10:04 am |
      • qotu

        The Koran allows a person to lie in defense of Islam. Sounds like you've learned this lesson well.

        August 5, 2010 at 8:15 am |
        • Doba

          Oh Lord, where you do you guys come up with this nonsense? I've read the Qur'an cover to cover many times, it doesn't say you can lie, sorry. Some Shi'a groups held that one could hide one's identity as a Shi'a to avoid persecution by Sunnis – but that's a peculiar case due to historical circumstances.

          Its sad to see such mistrust and paranoia about Muslims. Some Italians are in the Mafia, but not all Italians need be feared as criminals. Some Muslims are extremists, but not all need be feared as terrorists.

          August 5, 2010 at 8:44 am |
      • JNAG12

        Did you become a Muslim in Prison? Cat?...

        August 5, 2010 at 8:36 am |
      • sagebrush shorty

        Many so called "American Muslims " were part of a prison gang. Where were you in the late '50's and 60's? Prisons were, and still are, a prime recruiting place for radical Islam, especially among the black prison population. Wake up !

        August 5, 2010 at 9:13 am |
    • Robrob

      So some unkown nobody with delusions of grandure representing another unknown group of nobodys once wrote something 18 years ago? That scares you?

      Wow...

      August 5, 2010 at 7:29 am |
      • Madman

        Hitler was an unknown nobody ex con who wrote a little book, and look how that ended up.

        August 5, 2010 at 8:03 am |
  19. the great allah mohamad cult leader

    GO BUDDAH ATLEAST HE IS FAT AND HAPPY

    August 4, 2010 at 11:18 pm |
  20. YoungPeter

    I think you mean Shangri Law, the hidden law in the Koran Mountains. It has never been found to exist by the Yeti.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:18 pm |
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About this blog

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.