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August 11th, 2010
03:12 PM ET

Controversial New York Islamic center will not relocate to public land

CNN's Alona Rivord filed this report:

Developers of a Muslim community center near the site of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York Wednesday declined an offer by Gov. David Paterson to relocate the project.

Paterson had suggested Tuesday that state-owned property could provide an alternative building site for the controversial project.

"If the sponsors were looking for property anywhere at a distance that would be such that it would accommodate a better feeling among the people who are frustrated, I would look into trying to provide them with the state property they would need," Paterson told reporters.

Developers say the current location for the project - two blocks from ground zero - was selected intentionally to serve the Lower Manhattan community.

"We have a tremendous amount of respect for our governor, and we are always interested in hearing what our leaders have to say, and what their ideas and proposals are. But this has always been about serving Lower Manhattan," said developer Sharif El-Gamal of Soho Properties.

The proposed $100 million, 13-story facility, which is being built by the Cordoba Initiative, will include a mosque, performing arts center, gym, swimming pool and other public spaces. The Cordoba Initiative describes itself as a Muslim outreach group.

The project has drawn fierce opposition from many families of victims of the 9/11 attacks, as well as from several members of Congress and some religious groups. Some have argued that building a mosque near ground zero is disrespectful to the victims of the attacks.

"I don't have any objection to it being built there," Paterson said Tuesday. "But I am very sensitive to the desire of those who are adamant against it to see something else worked out."

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other city leaders support the center.

"Those of us in public service are going to have to create a greater dialogue right now to try to make sure those feelings are heard to whatever extent we can," Paterson said.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Islam • New York • Politics • United States

soundoff (859 Responses)
  1. Anders

    I think that they have every right to build the center there. They own the property and as El-Gamal, the man behind the idea, said real estate is very difficult to find in Manhattan. It could be that the Governor already recommended several sites to them that were outside the area that needs a community center like this.

    And folks, that's what this building will be: a community center. Yes, there will be a room for prayer but not once have I heard it mentioned that anyone will be preaching there. Muslims pray five times towards Mecca each day, so it makes sense that they might want a quiet place in the building where people can do that. And additionally, El-Gamal has been very vocal about the fact that he in no way approves of the actions taken by the terrorist on September 11th. He himself was born and raised in America and has family members who are Christian and Jewish. I think what he's trying to do is very needed.

    August 11, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
    • JennyH

      All the Muslims I know are against what happened in 9/11 and they talk to the media and speak out against it, but the media finds it too boring to actually mention it on the news or in an article.

      August 11, 2010 at 7:24 pm |
  2. balls

    Religion is an unnecessary relic of the past that should be irrelevant in modern society.

    August 11, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  3. joe1actual

    If muslims, and I mean those that love to distance themselves and say 'but I'm not that way & the Koran doesnt preach to kill non-muslims'.. won't recognize how wrong building this mosque is at Ground Zero, then they dont deserve the peace and safety that we provide them here in the US...no where else on earth are they as safe to be the kind of muslim they want...in Afghanistan, a taliban may decide youre not muslim enough- and shoot you;...in Iran you may be too Muslim- and shoot you...in Iraq your may be Shi-iteor Sunni..I say to all decent caring Americans: treat the muslim people in this country as the enemy, ostracize them at schools, dont let your kids play with their kids, ignore them at your cash register, dont get in their taxi, dont pay them for services, turn your back when they need help, they are as responsible for their fellow muslims as we are for the Ku Klux Klan...they deserve the same level of humanity that they wish upon us...

    August 11, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
    • Anders

      joe1actual: And how would that help anything? The people in this country who are Muslim ARE American citizens. They were just as affected by the attacks as anyone else was; possibly more so because they continue to be victims of hatred and prejudice to this day. The people who perpetrated those attacks do not speak for all Muslims and you will be just as wrong as those terrorists if you start denying people the basic rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

      August 11, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
    • Americano

      JOE1

      NOTHING TO DO WITH FEELING....

      IT IS ALL ABOUT FIRST AMENDMENT PERIOD....

      TODAY ABOUT THIS GROUP FEELING, TOMORROW ABOUT THE OTHER GROUP FEELING AND SO ON AND SO ON....

      Until no more freedom to talk about...

      The only reason BIGOT, ISRAELI MOSSAD, WHITE TRASH HILLBILLY, FOLLOWERS OF PAT ROBERTSON are all over this subject because their IGNORANCE, RACISM, AND BIGOTRY...

      AMERICA IS THE LAND OF THE FREEEEEEEEEEEEE......

      August 11, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
    • Islamneedstogo

      Finally, someone who feels the same way as I. F the Muslims. I'm too old now, but if I was younger, I would join the Army and hopefully go and shoot as many of these shitbaggers square in the forehead as I could and dance a jig over there dead bodies. Then possible shoot a movie similar to Weekend at Bernies, but with dead muslims.

      August 11, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
    • joe1actual

      ....it will help in this way: the moderate need to take control of their religion and mosques and stop turning their heads and live up to the obligation of basic humanity (or face the consequences) of identifying and denying anonymity to the radicals in their community...just as every italian american neighborhood can tell you who's a wise guy or who's running rackets, the muslim's can too...whether or not the Koran preaches one thing or another is immaterial...millions of muslims know only what their cleric or teachers feed them...the Klan's bible is wrong, the Khmer Rouge Anka doctine is wrong & islam as it is taught to more than youre willing to admit – is wrong....

      August 11, 2010 at 8:54 pm |
  4. NativeCA

    These people are not peace loving but trying to take over the world and make us all live under Sharia law. Their unrelenting determination to build this controversial mosque at this sight is all the proof I need.

    August 11, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  5. mm

    first they ask muhammed to be taken off south park and now they want to build a mosque near g. zero. muslims need to go back to their own country. if you don't like america, don't live here.

    August 11, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
    • Momo

      I bet you anything all the people posting these ignorant comments are Caucasians who have absolutely little to no contact with anyone outside of their own own race. scared scared white peopel. so sad.

      August 11, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
  6. Rab

    So what? Let them build. If they think its a victory than wait till the new world trade center rises and LAUGHS in its face every day... if ANYTHING Let them build that there, and build the best skyscraper a city could ever build. Its a very American way of declaring victory. You people though want to sacrifice a freedom though because different people of the same religion did an attack... well what about that guy that flew the plane into the IRS building... should middle aged whites not be aloud to fly? Where do you stop with revenge? I believe it was said in WW2 to those persecuting the Jews... once they are taken care of then who? Where do you stop? We are America, so forget how it makes you feel, just be proud of your country, because we have alot of work ahead of us, and we frankly shouldn't worry about a mosque right now... Use your energy to fight the export of jobs... use it to vote, to help our country in someway... Or not... but your decision right now may affect your kids and grand kids lives.

    August 11, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  7. Sage

    This governor is a fool. He would tell a bullied kid to go to another school rather than have the courage to create peace.

    August 11, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  8. Imagica

    I love how narrow minded people are about this project. I am a Christian for one. All the arguments you state against this group because Islam teaches violence and hate etc. Can be applied to Christianity as well. Sorry. Truth hurts. Crusades, Salem Witch Trials etc. are so peaceful.
    The Qur'an teaches that the Followers of Christ and the Children of Abraham are brothers to the Muslim and that we pray to the same God as they do, but there are Muslims that ignore that passage because they want to embrace their hate. Then again Jesus says Love Thy Enemy but we love to hate our enemies ignoring that passage in our own Bible. Does that make us any better?
    The people involved in this mosque are outspoken against the terrorism done in Allah's name. They also work with several non Muslim groups including the Jewish and Christian Communities against these violent acts. The Cleric and his wife both are known to be peaceful leaders and have support of groups such as Rabbi Arthur Waskow,of the Shalom Center, who talks about The Cordoba Institute, led by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his wife Daisy Khan and why they are doing this. To teach peace and help heal the wounds that have happened.
    Read his article here: https://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/08/05/my-take-the-jewish-case-for-the-ground-zero-mosque/

    August 11, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  9. Cathei

    I lkive in the land of mormons and we have mosque here in odd locations. Catholic chuches spread far out and i t is the second largest churc besides the mormons. THat is BS with the muslims saying what they did. Germnay just shut down the mosque that was a focal point for 911. This is a hearless souless act this group is doing. We cannot build a cathederal in most of the ME and christians are being pushed out fast. I am not practicing christian and I knowtthis wrong. LEts us go build a buddhist temple a shinto shrine an cathederal a synagogue where these people came from then lets talkl

    now the muslims in NY are protesting to islamic holidays. I do not get christmas off holy friday or easter. Screw them!

    August 11, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  10. trumod

    If the intent of this mosque is to celebrate a victory, then, if we are truly Christians as modeled by the Nazarene Himself, we should turn the intent against itself and make this a symbol of forgiveness.

    August 11, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  11. Frank

    I read the book by Brigitte Gabrielle "Because They Hate" she describes the Muslims for who they are. As stated in her book during the 7 years she lived in a bomb shelter from the MUSLIMS in the late 70's when they attacked her city. She described the MUSLIMS going into bomb shelters looking for Christians, the story she tells is of them finding a mother and father with a baby, they tied one leg of the baby to the father, the other leg to the mother, while laughing, they pulled the parents apart and pulled the baby in half. Another story she tells is the taped a knife to a mothers hand and tied her daughter in a chair and forced her hand to slit her own daughters throat, then raped her two other daughters in front of her, pee'd and defecated on them, burned churches. I could go on and on. She has several books out trying to educate American and Europe. Idiots like this who dong understand these people are the ones who will get us all killed and cost us our country. Below is a verse from their bible...

    Qur’an 8:12 ”Your Lord inspired the angels with the message: ‘I will terrorize the unbelievers.’ Therefore smite them on their necks and every joint and incapacitate them. Strike off their heads and cut off each of their fingers and toes.”

    August 11, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  12. E.E

    Apparently, all the freedoms that we're supposed to have in this country, don't apply to you if you're a Mexican or a muslim.

    August 11, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  13. Crady

    This land offer was a litmus test to determine the true motivations behind the mosque and its [disturbingly close] proximity to Ground Zero. There are currently over 100 mosques in NYC - "this" one, is being built solely to honor the 9/11 'attackers'; a fact that has not escaped the notice of more conservative Muslims, and even the Canadian Muslim Congress is speaking out in condemnation of its construction:
    muslimcanadiancongress.org/20100809.html

    The issue of its construction has "nothing" to do with religious freedom, and everything to do with Islamic globalization and the glorification of the 9/11 attackers. Ground Zero is as much hallowed ground as Pearl Harbor, and we dare not allow these terrorist-worshipers to defile that place or our honored dead.

    I have a question for Mayor Bloomberg: What does a Jewish-American soul sell for these days?

    August 11, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  14. anonymous

    the big fat word... 'INTENTIONAL'... those muslims intentionally performed this act to show how powerful they are. this is a disgrace. and to governor paterson... have you ever heard of american's constitutional right to a separation of church and state??? offering government land to them is a violation and would be challenged in court.

    August 11, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  15. ricketts

    This is not fair at at all. If we built a church near mecca. muslims would blow it up. how hypocritical of them to build a mosque here near ground zero.

    August 11, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
    • Pink Hijab

      Another ignorant troll.... what can i say...

      August 11, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
    • Crady

      Actually, it's not just Mecca. Saudi law forbids the construction of "any" non-Islamic place of worship "anywhere" within Saudi Arabia. This is a very, very broad law, and also applies to religious meetings such as prayer groups and non-Muslim services. In fact, it is just this line of thinking that triggered 9/11. Osama Bin Laden (the son of a Saudi billionaire) began his attacks on the U.S. and Saudi Arabia because he believed having U.S. military bases within Saudi Arabia was an affront to Islam.

      As an aside, why 'Pink Hijab' thinks you are a "troll" for mentioning this escapes me.

      August 11, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
    • Guester

      Pink – it's like talking to a child. We point out now inequitable what you're asking for is and you throw a tantrum and say we're stupid. Just stop and think for a minute how is this a good thin? it's disrespectful of the memory of thousands of people murdered there. The point is it would be just as disregardful as building a church in Mecca.

      August 11, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
    • DKOM

      It is a valid point though. it would not be allowed or tolerated. Look at the 10 Christians who were jsut killed in Afghanistan by the Taliban for having Bibles translated into Dari.

      August 11, 2010 at 6:05 pm |
  16. Dustin

    I honestly just dont understand how they can scream to high heavens about Muhammud being shown on south park and getting it pulled.

    Yet when we ask them to move it, not because were against them worshipping, but because it brings a sense of being slapped in the face, were the intolerant ones again.

    Can muslims do no wrong?

    August 11, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
  17. joe

    actuall your wrong many of these peace loving muslims in new york do have ties to terrorism. The leaders of these mosques all have connections with terrorists throughtout the middle eastern world. The president of many countries are first cousins with sucide bombers (gadafi-lybia) even though we broker deals with them to get the bombers back lockerbie. Our system is so messed up our politicans are actually feeding the same terrorism there fighting. Spend thousands of hours on wikipedia and wikileaks educate yourself people. Things need to change and mmmm LEGALIZE prohibiton of marijuana needs to end 2010 our kids will thank us

    August 11, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
  18. justAThought

    while were at it, why don't we build a Japanese memorial on top of the USS Arizona?

    August 11, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
  19. hobart

    Budda "ok set aside the fact that islam is not a peaceful religion (see previous post) in all fairness please explain to us or convince us that this decision is a wise or smart one or why it should be allowed. Just the fact that you preach hatred and killing at the same site where you actually did this, I doubt you will get much suport. But like I said please lets hear your side."

    First, the spelling is Buddha, not Budda. Second, Islam no more preaches hatred and killing than the do various chapters of the Bible. And history is chock full of examples of hatred and killing done in the name of Christianity.

    August 11, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
    • Budda

      "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-)

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

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

      I dont see this in the Bible

      and the other spellings were taken

      August 11, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
    • Budda

      If you would like me to qoute more just let me know

      August 11, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
    • hobart

      The old testament is full of comparable quotes. We take them as allegory today

      August 11, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
    • Budda

      And history is chock full of examples of hatred and killing done in the name of Christianity

      Was there ever a war that religion did not have a part in?

      August 11, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
    • hobart

      i was thinking more of Church history with respect to the Jews, e.g. Martin Luther's loathsome diatribe, burning witches, that sort of thing. Though the Crusades is another fine example.

      August 11, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
    • Budda

      You dont see us acting on the old testatment do you? It doesnt say all the crap that the koran or Qur'an or how ever says to do. We dont kill inocent people because they dont belive in Jesus. Hell I dont believe in the Bible

      August 11, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
    • Budda

      And why did we have those lovely crusades?

      August 11, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
    • Budda

      Religion is nothing more than a power trip to control the masses

      August 11, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
    • hobart

      "You dont see us acting on the old testatment do you? " Sure. Examples abound: creationism, various cults, the KKK, folks who blow up abortion clinics or shoot abortion doctors...

      August 11, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
    • Budda

      Their not all christians and were in the bioble does it say to do these things?

      August 11, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
    • hobart

      Here's an example...

      And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him. Leviticus 24:16

      August 11, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
    • Lulu

      Islam does not preach killing, end of story. In the misinterpreted Quran AND biblical verses that were posted and taken out of context, they do not mean killing everyone who is not your religion. ISLAM. FORBIDS. KILLING. OF INNOCENT PEOPLE.

      August 11, 2010 at 5:59 pm |
    • Budda

      nOW YOUR CATCHING ON BUT I CAN FIND EVEN WORSE IN THE BIBLE, BUT WHEN HAVE WE ACTED ON ANYTHING THE BIBLE COMMANDS? ISLAM ACTS ON THIS, TERRORISIM WAS FOUNDED ON ISLAM, NOT CHRISTIANITY

      August 11, 2010 at 6:05 pm |
    • hobart

      So now you're screaming (all caps)?

      You asked for examples and I gave you some. Then you asked for Bible quotes, and I gave you some (look them up on BibleGateway.com, which has several Bibles online that are searchable). Now you ask for examples again. I gave them to you before.

      August 11, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
    • Budda

      Sorry about the caps thing typo, typing between 5 arguements, I am saying when have we acted on any of the qoutes that you can find in our book?

      August 11, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
    • hobart

      The KKIK, killing abortion providers, ministers exhorting their congregations to take up arms against the government...

      August 11, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
    • Budda

      First the KKK is not christians, second there is nothing in the bible telling anyone to kill pro life or pro choice, and 3rd EVERY religion has its nuts, but we keep our nuts under control, they dont bomb mosques or attack mecca now do they?

      August 11, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
    • hobart

      First, the KKK absolutely is Chrisitan. That they get it completely wrong is beside the point, or rather, is my point. They nevertheless do what they do in the name of Christianity.

      Second, killing abortion doctors is done in the name of religion, and a simple "eye for an eye" is all that's invoked to justify it.

      Third, no, we don't keep our nuts under control.

      Gotta go cook dinner for my family. TTFN

      August 11, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
    • Budda

      Islam is political and they require that you convert everyone to sharia law, we don command that in any other religion, and second class class muslums and slavery and the list is endless. This just sounds like a power trip, not a religion

      August 11, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
    • Kris

      Hey Guys,

      First of all "Budda" in Indian Hindi means, "Old Man who is ready to die any time"

      August 11, 2010 at 7:20 pm |
    • Martin81

      I love how people keep saying that Muslims want to convert us all to sharia law, but then turn right around and say that America is a "Christian nation" and we should all follow Christian rules. And if you're an atheist, then you're the worst person in the world because you won't let Christians say "Merry Christmas" or some other such nonsense. Those "Christians" making attacks on Muslims' religion are complete hypocrites. Christians are always trying to make society follow their rules, such as trying to ban abortions (here's an idea - don't have one!) or gay marriages (ditto!) based on the Bible. And there certainly are Christian extremists would love a Christian theocracy in America, don't be fooled. I just love how everyone wants to be left alone in the country, but then turn around and try to make everyone else do what they say!

      August 11, 2010 at 8:39 pm |
  20. ricketts

    if this is built, it would be symbolize victory for muslim extremists.

    August 11, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
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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.