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. Kristal Mac leod

    its basic human dignity 4 the living and the murdered' just does not settle right' sounds wrong' oh so wrong.

    August 5, 2010 at 1:17 am |
  2. axialresponse

    Insensitivity does not equal illegality. Unless you are advocating rewriting the constitution to include an amendment for the right of religious refusal, you have to separate the legality from the emotional response.
    Legally, they have the right to build the mosque. The city cleared them – they are following all the legal steps.
    In Kansas, there is a church which goes around and pickets outside of American soldier's funerals and screams epithets of hate....it makes you sick to think about, but the courts upheld their RIGHT to do it. Don't get mad at Muslims or refer to follows of Islam as "them"....it makes you insensitive, bigoted, and....well..."typical American"

    You know a few hundred years ago, follows of a religion raged havoc and murder through out Europe and the Middle east, making every person follow their religion or die....yet we forget how the Christian Crusades displayed the utmost worst of religious intolerance. We vilify those who don't follow our personal beliefs before we began to understand what those beliefs are....we are all guilty of religious intolerance...why can't we just stop, think, and move on.

    August 5, 2010 at 1:16 am |
  3. Kristal Mac leod

    freedom is great' 2 have citizenship in a country that you were never born in is a fantastic turn of events' but leave your traditions' where they belong' when You enter a different country' u do not get to wear face attire because of your beliefs' you live as we live ' dress as we dress ' conform its simple as that' i'm just saying

    August 5, 2010 at 1:14 am |
    • Momo

      "Face attire"? does this apply to Catholic nuns and Jewish women who wear the head scarves too? what about kippas worn by jewish men? (although seriously, that hat does look ridiculously silly and should be outlawed by the fashion police).

      August 5, 2010 at 2:30 am |
  4. thekin

    Many liberal Americans still have the "We're a Rich Superpower" mentality, they constantly stab themselves in the foot. We're neither rich, nor a super power. These things are an illusion that only show how successfully they've been brainwashed.

    I hate to say it, but there are times when its impossible to disagree with certain foreign leaders when they call America "The Arrogant Power." The people in the U.S. falsely believe themselves to be so powerful that they can grant concession after concession to foreign groups until they've died the death of a thousand cuts. The U.S. is not some super-rich mega ultra-power. It is first & foremost a collection of human beings. The population of the U.S. has no Will-Power, no Brain-Power, and certain no Moral-Power.

    Its citizens need to come down to a more humble ground and start fending for themselves & each other before they obsess themselves with defending strangers. Most Americans don't even know the names of their Neighbors. The humanity in America no longer exists. There are no real communities in America, just a bunch of vampire bums who stay indoors and shriek at the idea of hanging outside with friends and neighbors. Americans will believe anything they're told to believe, they will passively sit by and let whatever happen, happen. They live in the Ivory Towers of arrogance & ignorance.

    The ones who are the Rich, are most deluded of all. You can count among them the Journalists & Editors of CNN. They believe themselves to be Gods among men, striding the global arena. They possess power that they will never be able to take with them to the grave, but the boast proudly their God-like influence over millions of lives. They can mold and shape the public to do whatever it wishes because any and all resistance will be too glued to the Media to ever perform any real action against them and their co-conspirators in the Government.

    These groups have no visionaries. They can not stop the next World War and if they all banded together to sing kumbiya they would fail. CNN is among the next great forgotten empires.

    Here's why: Groups that are not a minority on the global stage, should not be treated as minorities on the national stage. Protecting Minority rights in America is a display of the utmost incompetence. This is a globalized world, if 1% of Americans are Muslim and there are 1 billion Muslims, Muslims in America represent the Minority and Americans represent the Minority. Same deal with Illegal Immigration.

    This is how the Muslims in the U.S. view themselves. They are not duped into the liberal American belief that they are a minority. I have seen it happen many times, with a smile and a laugh that Minority Muslim will laugh and say "No, you are the minority because I represent 1 billion Muslims."

    Those obsessed with defending the rights of the Minority should go look in a mirror and start fighting for the rights of Americans before they concerned themselves with religious members who have 1 billion people backing them.

    The self-defeating mentality of the liberal is indicative of an extreme mental disorder. One that is fueled by arrogance and narcissism invisibly instilled in them by the same jingoistic American Liberalism that they don't realize that they blindly follow. How foolish they are to have never examined themselves and Buddhafied their Ego.

    The liberal will proudly stand on the ground of a crumbling foundation until it has given way and collapsed beneath them. The truth can stand on its own, humans on the other hand, are very mortal vessels of truth. We have seen truth buried and destroyed and humanity plunged into Dark Ages.

    Humanity has survived 10s of the 1000s of years. It has experienced rises & falls. The March of Progress doesn't go forward and often time takes steps back. It is easy to imagine a not-so-distant future where humanity is stagnated back into the Stone Age and were that to happen it could be 1000s of years to recover the knowledge that we might lose.

    All because Liberals with Stockholm Syndrome are obsessed with polluting The Meme Machine with "positive vibrations" for a religion that wants to kill us and make it easier for the 10% of those who hate us to attack. Remember, 10% of 1billion is still 100 million. I somehow doubt that The All Powerful & All Seeing People of the United States of America have the ability to protect themselves from 100 million politically / militarily motivated Islamic Imperialists who are very much still in the same Imperial Mentality that Europeans had a few hundred years ago.

    Now, I think its a shame when we have entire media outlets that run around promoting the "positive image" of the "other" while neglecting to sell themselves. If the media is American then they certainly don't sell themselves well.

    "I've heard all of these positive things about Islam from CNN, I think I'll become a Muslim." <– that's exactly what Osama Bin Laden wanted. If you don't believe it, you haven't been paying attention. Hook, Line, Sinker. 10,000 years of Imperial Wars and the people of the United States haven't learned anything. You Americans are the feeding trough for the next great power. Your technology will be assimilated, THEY, not you will colonize the worlds being discovered if you don't start to straighten up and fly right.

    August 5, 2010 at 1:12 am |
    • thekin

      edit: as a loosely connected conglomerate, 'minority' muslims in american represent a global majority. americans in america represent a global minority. The minority label is ridiculous. We live in a globalize world.

      All this thinking should be done in the context of imaging humanity as a Type 0 Civilization emerging as a Type I.

      I would much rather see the U.S. lead humanity into Type I & Type II Civilization status and atm there aren't any real viable alternatives. Definitely not China & definitely not the proposed Islamic Empire.

      August 5, 2010 at 1:17 am |
    • Dorphin

      wow..../rant is right. Feel better? I often do after a good bit like that...

      August 5, 2010 at 1:38 am |
    • Methusalem

      Abslolutely true! The Muslims are simply God's scourge and schoolmaster, permitted by God to be the servant of the devil, who not only ruins land and people with the sword but also lays waste the Christian faith and our dear Lord Jesus Christ. That's why the godless secular world is trying to use them as a weapon to attack and destroy Christianity - it's its ultimate goal.

      August 5, 2010 at 7:50 am |
    • Methusalem

      Absolutely true! The Muslims are simply God's scourge and schoolmaster, permitted by God to be the servant of the devil, who not only ruins land and people with the sword but also lays waste the Christian faith and our dear Lord Jesus Christ. That's why the godless secular world is trying to use them as a weapon to attack and destroy Christianity - it's its ultimate goal.

      August 5, 2010 at 7:50 am |
  5. M_Miles

    Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people. Proverbs 14:34.
    Apparently there are those that do not have the understanding that what happened on 9-11 is a sin perpetrated upon our nation.

    These that are without understanding would rather give into fear and not hear the facts about where the money is coming from to build the
    Ground Zero Mosque.

    It would be the sane thing to check first and make sure the money to build the Mosque is not coming from any group that was and or is affiliated with those that caused the following destruction seen in this video. . .


    August 5, 2010 at 1:10 am |
    • Dorphin

      A sin perpetrated on our nation?

      I have no words for what is happening to you right now....

      August 5, 2010 at 1:41 am |
  6. Big Al

    Just outside both Auschwitz and Dachau are convents. If the Chirstian are allowed to build shrines where THEY committed mass murder, wouldn't it only be fair to allow Muslims to do the same thing? Why the double standard?

    August 5, 2010 at 1:03 am |
    • Anonymous

      Because we're Americans and can be as hypocritical as we want as long as we don't admit it.

      August 5, 2010 at 1:05 am |
  7. Americano

    We must first remember that the people who wants to build the Cultural Center
    Not saudis, or iranians or pakistani etc.


    They have every right to buy,sell,worship or not worship as they please.



    So asking saudi arabia to have a church be built in Mecca is out of contest.
    If you HAVE A SAUDI CITIZENSHIP and you want to built a church than you can say OK we should not allow them to built a mosque here until they built a church there but you are NOT saudi citizen.

    ONE MORE TIME. These are AMERICAN CITIZENS like you and me if you want to deny them their right to worship, buy,sell than YOU AND EVERYONE ELSE should be sent back to where you ancestors came from because you don't have any rights nor deserve to be living this country either.
    Pure and Simple.

    August 5, 2010 at 12:54 am |
    • SFCL

      US Army, Native American (Blackfoot/Mohawk) It is my country. Check your head Islam and Christianity have been at war far longer than any two faiths. Bottom line is Islam is fundamentaly against what the US offers. So why then good sir/ma'am would you offer?? Why would you knowingly allow deciet into your home? Would you knowingly allow a murderer into your home with your family? That is indeed what you expect from the US.

      This Nation was founded on freedom, of all your ramblings above, however it was also built on the fundamental truth that .. and brace yourself here.. the rest of the world may be watching (who cares if they are, it isnt thier country, it's ours) Founded on.. IN GOD WE TRUST.

      *I know how it hurts you so, but it is the truth*

      Now ask yourself, if you have lost faith in that very sentence and can tear it apart with disbelief and constant banter about how religions are all farstical, then ask yourself the next logical question. Lets take faith out of it, would you allow a group suck as the KKK or the Black panthers into your town and let them set up a shop?

      No you wouldnt, because they are killers, they kill to get thier message out. Much how the Koran states Muslims MUST do. Convert them or kill them.

      Much how the Christians did long ago. Only we grew up and out of that sort of thing in our new world. Only problem is they havent and they will do the same thing.

      Been to Iraq, lived there, they do not care about life, not yours or thiers, 75% of them at anyrate.

      Dont be a fool. Go read a book and STOP ranting about things you certianly do not understand. 22 years in the Military, not brain washed, not ignorant, but fully aware of what the threat is.

      August 5, 2010 at 9:06 am |
  8. Steve

    Many mosques were built on conquered lands. Is this any different? I was really hoping we would not have a conquered city in the United States.

    August 5, 2010 at 12:52 am |
    • Anonymous

      Just found out that this isn't a mosque. lol

      August 5, 2010 at 1:04 am |
  9. Americano

    We must first remember that the people who wants to build the Cultural Center
    Not saudis, or iranians or etc.
    THEY ARE AMERICANS. They have every right to buy,sell,worship or not worship as they please.

    So asking saudi arabia to have a church be built in Mecca is out of contest.
    If you HAVE A SAUDI CITIZENSHIP and you want to built a church than you can say OK we should not allow them to built a mosque here until they built a church there.

    ONE MORE TIME. These are AMERICAN CITIZENS like you and me if you want to deny them their right to worship than YOU AND EVERYONE ELSE should be sent back to where you ancestors came from because you don't have any rights to live in this country either.
    Pure and Simple.

    August 5, 2010 at 12:50 am |
  10. Charles

    I joined the Military 1 week after the attack on America, I have lost family and spent 5 long years protecting the rights many forget or plain abuse. This has nothing to do with separation of state and church nor the freedom of religion, this is about human decency and the insensitive thought of building a mosque within the sight of Ground Zero. You want to build a community center to diffuse and inform the NYC area of the "true" intentions then by all means please do but do not do this at the heart of pain for Americans. If this is allowed I fear for people involved in the construction and planning as New Yorkers are not known for there gracious hospitality nor the kind demeanor.

    August 5, 2010 at 12:50 am |
    • Poe

      Sorry Charles, but I'd like to just stop you right there.

      I keep seeing references to soldiers and ex-soldiers who keep saying similar things about going after enemies...yet I see no evidence of having been trained to seek out the truth of a situation.

      Perhaps some intense training at West Point would sooth your mind. Believe me, the USA has some very intelligent people working behind the scenes, where you would expect and want them to be.

      They will do their best the same way we would like YOU to do your best.
      So please think and analyze the information you have been given.
      Question the source.....If some enemy suckers you into doing something stupid, whose fault is it?

      I'm not saying anyone's your particular enemy at this point. Got it? And quit attacking the Constitution!

      August 5, 2010 at 1:29 am |
  11. publius enigma

    Dont lie. You dont want them there because they're muslim. The sooner you be honest with yourself and others the sooner you get over your disease.

    August 5, 2010 at 12:47 am |
    • Nejad kaboom

      It's their scriptural interpretation, I despise. It's their disrespect for REAL Cordova-housed Muslim Canon that I abhor. It's their support of anti-semitic and sexist educational curricula through complicit silence that I dislike. It'd be nice, if the paperback generation, for a change, looked into whether SOHO properties' legitimacy of claim to the building.

      August 5, 2010 at 2:35 am |
    • Honest

      It's too bad that an honest comment doesn't comply with the Rules of Conduct set forth by the site's guidelines.
      So I cannot respond to you. As a Muslim, I cannot be published, I cannot speak up or be heard. To answer you.

      August 5, 2010 at 2:42 am |
    • My disease files under Woman

      Is that I read. Islamic Texts, and what I read I interpret in ways that CNN wants to silent. Why?

      August 5, 2010 at 2:44 am |
    • Melismata

      Islamophobia is not something heartfelt in these quarters. The conversation is really not about the Mosque, or Islam, even.

      Look at who wants this plan killed, they just wanna be heard. Some wanna empower the enemy in brackets, others dumben the conversation, and a few, are risking backlash, elsewhere. Let's not talk about it.

      August 5, 2010 at 7:10 am |
  12. Budda

    It goes to show that there really is no hope for this country when you have so many people that back a decision from a group that we are at war with. This is a good lesson for the saine people of this country, this is what happens when you have relations with your cousins. Just remember that we can take it down just as fast as you can put it up! If you look at our past and what has happend over the last 50 years, history has a way of repeating itself. That alone should scare anyone that suports Islam.

    August 5, 2010 at 12:46 am |
    • Anonymous

      Uh-huh.........we're at war with Muslim Americans.........brilliant move, genius.

      August 5, 2010 at 1:00 am |
  13. Ituri

    While I understand the concept behind being tolerant even of things you find repulsive... I also think people FAIL to realize exactly whats going on here. The World Trade Center is a GRAVE. Muslims have a history of building mosques on CONQUERED grounds. This isn't rocket science. This "Islamic Center" will be funded by the same terrorist funding extremists that will "visit" the Center to dance on the graves of their "conquered" dead. OUR dead.

    Yes, they have the freedom to build what they want if they can permit it and zone it properly, but common decency demands a little sensitivity for a grave site. There is NO reason they can't build it somewhere else... but they WON'T, because then they won't get what they want. A good dancing site.

    August 5, 2010 at 12:45 am |
    • Anonymous

      Huh.....turns out it's not a mosque. Derp.

      August 5, 2010 at 1:03 am |
  14. the great allah mohamad cult leader

    What is their position on the Muslim Brotherhood?

    missionary with a goat

    August 5, 2010 at 12:39 am |
  15. Mike

    Buy the building next to it. Start a pig slaughter house. Let some pigs escape into the mosque

    August 5, 2010 at 12:24 am |
    • Anonymous

      Or we could ignore it. What ever happened to that idea? Oh wait, I forgot. Rationality dun exist 'round these parts.

      August 5, 2010 at 12:25 am |
    • Mike

      Also I want to build a 9/11 monument in Mecca and Medina

      August 5, 2010 at 12:28 am |
    • Anonymous

      The problem with your "comeback" is that we have Muslims in America (which would thus give a reason to build said mosque), but there was no 9/11 in Mecca. This would render the memorial useless, since it's mostly a U.S. thing.

      August 5, 2010 at 12:30 am |
  16. Catholiclikewoah

    ...just saying... but they already hold islamic services and prayer in said building so as far as it being insensitive to have Muslim structures built near ground zero... well that point's moot. Personally, I believe the most American way to prevent these particular Muslims from furthering construction on this piece of property they happen own would be to buy it from them. The right amount of money probably would not be refused. Nothing in this article has suggested that that particular plot of land is all that important. The main point is that it probably provides service for the muslim population located in that area, so its understandable they'd like to have access to a place where they can practice their religion near bye instead of having to make a long commute. Provide an alternate location. As for what I'm sure is mostly christian rage, screaming "F*** you you dirty F*****S!!!!!!!" and covering it in legal terminology and misdirecting emotional language is unbecoming.

    August 5, 2010 at 12:22 am |
    • NYC#1

      There's no way on earth they'll sell that spot. Firstly, it already operates similarly to a mosque (Muslims gather and pray there). Secondly, that spot carries enormous symbolism; by now, with the worldwide attention, it's priceless. Even if they don't build anything there, that building would be used as an Islamic place of worship. Furthermore, everything has been legally approved for the project to go ahead. I see no reason for them to even consider selling.

      August 5, 2010 at 2:25 am |
    • Menta Vert

      Really? Legally approved? They own the site?! Ha. What a fool it takes, what an ordinary fool, to think that the law of the land is for commoners to know. Give the Imam some respirdol so the celestial guidance can be turned down and the frequency change will appear natural.

      August 5, 2010 at 3:54 am |
  17. PJ

    Hmmm...also, all the 9/11 highjackers were men. Therefore, no men should be allowed at Ground Zero.

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

      Look at that speed! Will you be able to pull out in time?

      August 5, 2010 at 12:45 am |
    • Red Two

      Luke, you've got one on your tail.

      August 5, 2010 at 12:46 am |
    • Anonymous

      *flips the anti-Star Wars reference switch, immediately destroying all X-Wings*

      August 5, 2010 at 12:58 am |
    • St. George of the Apocolypse

      @Anonymous : Get off the internet, Dad. You're embarrassing me.

      August 5, 2010 at 1:06 am |
    • Anonymous

      @St. George of the Apocolypse: That's what you get for not thinking rationally, son.

      August 5, 2010 at 1:07 am |
    • Dorphin

      @Anonymous : You are sick. Get some help.

      August 5, 2010 at 1:48 am |
    • Dorphin

      @ Anonymous: The kid was just having a bit of fun. Where the f*** is your sense of humour?

      August 5, 2010 at 1:49 am |
    • SphinxterRiddle

      @Annoynous : You should get a personal digital assistant. I mean a person who can hold your fingers tight.

      I mean really, really tight.

      August 5, 2010 at 2:45 am |
  18. the great allah mohamad cult leader


    August 5, 2010 at 12:16 am |
    • Anonymous


      August 5, 2010 at 12:21 am |
    • Gold Leader

      Just impacted on the surface. Didn't go in.

      August 5, 2010 at 12:35 am |
    • Arch Angel Michael

      I like the ALL CAPS message there and lack of spell check. Even if I were Muslim, I wouldn't feel threatened.

      August 5, 2010 at 12:38 am |
    • Fred

      If and when you served in the US Armed Forces, did you not swear an oath to defend the Constitution?

      And how far away is that from the point you're trying to make? Did you keep your fingers crossed while making the oath?

      It's about self-control, not about losing it.

      August 5, 2010 at 12:40 am |
  19. the great allah mohamad cult leader


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

    August 4, 2010 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |


    August 5, 2010 at 12:13 am |
    • Arch Angel Michael

      We are here the same reason your ancestors came here if you're of Anglo decent. To practice religion freely.

      August 5, 2010 at 12:16 am |
    • Porkins


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

      We've lost Porkins.

      August 5, 2010 at 12:34 am |
  20. Dilanka

    how do you know buddah is fat ! did u see him by any chance. stop insulting ppl. you talk all about insensitivities and do exactly that.

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

      I know so because he currently runs Valve. OH SNAP I JUST DELAYED HALF-LIFE 3 AGAIN.

      August 5, 2010 at 12:32 am |
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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.