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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. Jeannie

    This is ridiculous. Why can't we JUST SAY NO!

    August 11, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
  2. Tamashi Shinto

    Firstly i am agnostic now on this issue, wha bugs me is the lies that they are spouting abt building this center. Build it , but pls dont lie abt the intentions and sugar oat it with BS. Just ask urselves this question, its been 9 years since 9/11, in these 9 years why havent they built any such "multi million dollar building bridges" anywhere in the USA? If this center was uilt in i dunno LA, Chicago, Detroit , nobody would have blinked an eyelid. If building bridges were ur true intention, why would anyone choose a site that u know would cause heartburn and controversy. Money aint a problem after all they have 100 million in their bank, there's plenty of land they own, but they never thought to build one anywhere in the USA, but thought it fit to build close to WTC, knowing full well the controversy it would create? That calls into question ther motiv behind this. I am all for building whateva u pls, but dont lie and give BS abt builing bridges etc, ur actions dont lie.

    August 11, 2010 at 8:17 pm |
    • buffalogal

      I think most of us realize what the true intent is behind the push to build this. But then you have the politically correct crowd that refuses to believe any such intent could possibly exist, which is not only naive, but quite dangerous. This country is on its way to implosion. . . . .

      August 11, 2010 at 8:44 pm |
  3. Rich

    It is funny that it will be called the Cordoba Center since Cordoba, Spain was conquered by Muslims in the 700's. Did the developers choose to name it Cordoba because they feel they're on their way to conquering America? After all, radicals in their religion caused so much damage and pain here not even 10 years ago and it seems that US liberals have already forgotten it in the name of pc.

    August 11, 2010 at 8:15 pm |
  4. Lawrence

    If it is to serve the lower Manhattan, then just have a simple one to worship out of.

    August 11, 2010 at 8:11 pm |
  5. dave

    dear Monica..nice speech..by the way would you ask the leaders of the muslim world and the peace loving muslims world wide to speak out against violence...and when it does happen by your peaceful fringe could u remind them of the same...oh yes and while u are at it..when is the last time you condemned palestinians for constantly dropping missles on Israel...
    Do not give us you peaceful speech...my muslims friends tell me that their religion is a religion of blood...I wold suggest you read your leaders words....u r naive !!!!

    August 11, 2010 at 8:10 pm |
    • Monica

      Dave,

      Touching on the Israel-Palestine conflict I can assure you that there really is no conflict. Simply show me a map of the world pre-1948 and locate Israel. Exactly, it didn't exist before then. You don't just walk into a country and declare it's yours.

      As for leaders, regardless of politics I have none and follow no one, only God.

      August 11, 2010 at 8:17 pm |
    • Abel Arce

      Monica, you are just a terrorist sympathizer. You can certainly be a muslim.

      August 11, 2010 at 8:20 pm |
    • Monica

      Abel,

      The only thing I sympathize in addition to human pain (which we all have experienced in all different levels) is your ignorance.

      Thank you for proving my point.

      August 11, 2010 at 8:28 pm |
    • Jeremiah

      Monica,

      Your ignorance is apparent, there was no Palestine until the Arabs invaded and conquered through way of force and violence the land known as Israel in the 600's. Just because the Johnny come lately terrorist thugs need a cause they have latched onto this false claim to Israel.

      August 11, 2010 at 8:40 pm |
  6. DC

    If these muslims were as respectful of "non muslims" and what happened to the people there on 9/11/2001 they'd willingly build somewhere on on the request of the family of the victims and the millions of others in New York who do not want it there. The fact that they are wanting to put it there even though so many people are asking them not to out of respect shows me that they are doing it as a slap in the face to non-muslims in this country and shows that they are not in the slightest bit respectful. Call me "ignorant" or whatever you want but I know muslims and muslim-converts and the only difference I see in them and what is said by terrorists is that what they don't believe in is blowing themselves up for some greater power. So no, I don't respect these people and never will. Disrespectful Bastards. Don't disrespect me and then ask that I be tolerant of your "religion" and what it teaches. Piss off.

    August 11, 2010 at 8:10 pm |
  7. Jinn

    Under the Obama administration Muslims get whatever they want, including free health care. That's right folks, American tax payers are going to be footing the bill for Muslims to get free health care, because they are exempt from paying the insurance. Go figure.

    August 11, 2010 at 8:09 pm |
    • Abel Arce

      Curious, How is that?

      August 11, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
  8. dave

    Put it this way..the muslims won that spot by killing, maiming and destroying...so I guess they can possess it....

    Naive ppl are taking over under the leadership of their president ... !!!

    August 11, 2010 at 8:07 pm |
    • Monica

      Abel,

      Have you ever asked yourself why would God give us original sin? Have you ever seen a newborn? You mean to tell me it is full of evil and sin? Please.

      Jesus did not die for my sins. I admire Jesus as a prophet and believe he performed many miracles however he was nothing more than a beloved prophet. It is a mistake to worship him and say he is the son of God. We are all the children of God and Jesus even says in the Bible to not make the mistake of worshipping him, he is but a messenger.

      Whether you think my conversion to Islam was a mistake or not is what you think. Nothing anyone ever says will ever make me reconsider. I've heard it all, and as previously mentioned, an idea can never be destroyed.

      August 11, 2010 at 8:23 pm |
    • Abel Arce

      Please, do not be brainwashed by this people. How can you say that mohamed, who came himself with the koran has any more validity than the scriptures that have thousands of years in the making? Even Jesus never refuted those scriptures my dear. Ask the hard questions to your iman and do not accept a biased explanation without concrete facts. Mohamed was a conqueror that utilized and exploited the poor and the ignorant of his time. After he moved to medina, he became a violent leader in order to fight others for personnal reasons. He utilized a lot of non cannonical references that were available during his time and came up with his own version for his own benefit, according to the Brittanicca Encyclopedia. The islamic koran and hadith are full of errors that can attest to the fraudulent work mahamed did to the koran. Example, they refer to Mary, the mother of Jesus, as the sister of Moses. The koran is a fraud.
      Now, I understand you can believe in anything you want, but I tell you I never understimate the difficulty of changing false beliefs with facts.

      August 11, 2010 at 8:43 pm |
    • buffalogal

      Wow Monica – you are an easily brainwashed individual aren't you, as your incorrect regurgitation of what you think you read in the Bible illustrates – or is that what you have been told to believe now? Irregardless of what religion you subscribe to, you need to do better research before you start spouting on a board.

      August 11, 2010 at 8:49 pm |
  9. Monica

    I am a previous Catholic, agnostic and atheist and now a proud convert to Islam. It wasn't until I was in my 20s that I started asking questions about religion and if God even exists. It is sad that media has skewed the perception of Islam and muslims for their profit and to scare people in order to control them. In the midst of this propaganda, question everything and do not follow faith blindly.

    Another thing I would like to clarify is Allah. Allah is the arabic word for 'God', the same God that Jews and Christians believe in. Why do muslims use Allah? Because we believe that God is Most High and since the word 'God' can be used in different contexts (i.e: 'he is the god of rock and roll/she looks like a goddess) we want to make sure that only one word can identify the Greatness of God–Allah.

    Governments can ban headscarves, ban minarets, anything to diminish the physical appearance of Islam, but remember, no matter what, a belief is bulletproof and no one can take that away from you. It's your intention and what's in your heart that counts. We will all be held accountable one day for our sins.

    To the comment I read above that says they saw clips of people in the Middle East cheering for seeing the 9/11 terror attacks. Has it ever occurred to you that it was a clip from a completely irrelevant event that had nothing to do with the attacks?

    "Well then why are so many muslims crazy terrorists and so violent?" you may ask.

    Look, there are a billion muslims in the world. That means one out of every six humans are muslim. It's the largest and fastest growing religion. There are bad apples in all religions (and that doesn't mean they are followers to begin with). So of course since there are so many muslims the proportion of bad apples will be larger. That doesn't mean we're all the same, and I condemn the awful fundamental and extremist movements that are out there.

    To all believers, disbelievers, seekers, haters, I invite you to close your internet browser and go to a local mosque near you and ask for a copy of the Quran. Read it in its entirety, not snippets from the internet. Walk up to a muslim and ask them questions, no matter how rude you think you might be. I would rather have someone be upfront and ask me questions than for someone to walk by and stare with ignorant judgment.

    Remember everybody, we are all a part of peace.

    August 11, 2010 at 8:06 pm |
    • Abel Arce

      You are a rescent convert to islam. Ask if you are a people from the book, and to what book do they refer to. And ask them if that book is the bible, or if this "book", somehow does not exixst anymore. If the book was inspired by GOD, how did it dissapear? Honey, I think you have made a big mistake. Remember your original sin was taken care off by the sacrifice of Jesus.

      August 11, 2010 at 8:16 pm |
    • FrankinNJ

      Monica Allah is NOT the same GOD that Jews and Christians worship. Allah is nothing more than a new incarnation of the moon god the Arabs were whorsipping before Mohammed.

      Also I am glad you have found peace. But judging by your name I would say stay in a nice safe country where woman are allowed to read and be seen in public with a man without getting stoned. Take a few bribes for the morality police and make sure you study up on Sharia law.

      August 11, 2010 at 8:23 pm |
    • Jeremiah

      Monica,

      The Arabs stole the land or Israel back in the 600's. they conquered the land and erected mosques on top of Jewish temples.
      The difference between the Arabs and the Jewish people that they conquered is that when the Jewish initially conquered the land they killed everyone. That way there would be no one to lay claim to it at a latter date. You can blame the Arab caliphates from the original conquest of Israel for that mistake.

      August 11, 2010 at 8:34 pm |
    • kendallpeak

      Monica, You are in our prayers. Return to your people and your God. You have been conned by con men.

      August 11, 2010 at 8:55 pm |
    • buffalogal

      OK. NOW I understand some of your other comments on this board tonight, and where they are coming from. Having just spent several hours the other night having a discussion with a group of people, all of us now followers of Christ irregardless of what religious denomination we originally grew up in, a big recurring theme that was quite evident was the extent of disillusionment previous adherents to Catholicism felt before finally finding it in themselves to throw off much of what that religion does to entrap people. But I see you went from the frying pan into the fire, and did this without even understanding what is in the Bible to begin with, which makes me wonder just how much you really understand of the one you have now aligned yourself with.

      August 11, 2010 at 8:57 pm |
  10. Abel Arce

    I don't think the intentions of this iman are honest.

    August 11, 2010 at 8:04 pm |
  11. Edwin

    The name Cordoba was probably chosen because the city was an example of religious tolerance. It was Muslim controlled, but Jews and Christians were able to own property and worship without hindrance. They did pay a tax to worship a non-state religion, but in other parts of Europe, non-Christians were simply burned at the stake or hung until dead or drowned.

    It is likely that the jewish and christian citizens of Cordoba faced less religious intolerance than American muslims do.

    August 11, 2010 at 7:59 pm |
    • FrankinNJ

      You REALLY believe that do you? Tell me exactly how many Muslims have been murdered in America since 9/11 and we will comapre to the amount fo Christians killed in the Take over of Cordoba. Actually take how many Muslims have been killed in America because they were Muslim from 2001 till today and we can compare that to, lets say any 50% of Muslim ruled countries in the same time frame and compare the amount of those killed because they were not Muslim.

      August 11, 2010 at 8:17 pm |
  12. Surthurfurd

    The best proof that we are strong, is to not give up our freedoms. This includes not blindly seeking to restrict the rights of others. We should defend the rights of Muslim citizens to build as we would expect our right to build to be defended.

    August 11, 2010 at 7:59 pm |
  13. yourboycal

    "wouldn't it be hilarious if some fanatical christian flew a plane into the mosque after it was completed!"

    But then after the building fails to fall after 1 hour , people will be more suspcious of 9/11 . You dont wanna uncover the truth do you ?

    August 11, 2010 at 7:59 pm |
  14. Tamashi Shinto

    This is interesting.
    Fact: Moslem americans have the right to build mosques where the hell they please as long as ofcourse they own that land in this case they do.
    Fact: The claim being made by this group it is to build bridges.
    But we need to closely examine this "claim". They were offered asisstance in moving this project somewhere else, now someone genuinely interested in building bridges would definitely welcome this idea IF building bridges were th true motive especially since a new CNN poll shows 70% are opposed to this project.But you may say that the claim is this is to serve lower manhattan, but as some others pointed out,
    1. There isnt huge population of moslems in lower manhattan
    2. There are mosques around that area.

    So thre gos there rgument of pressing need of a mosque at that plac.
    My question to muslims, u want to build a mosque fine, but pls dont lie and hide behind lies of building bridges etc, becos ur actions betray ur true intentions for anyobdy to see, man up and say this aint abt building bridges but putting our stamp at that place.

    August 11, 2010 at 7:55 pm |
    • Edwin

      Tamishi: they wanted a space in Lower Manhattan, to serve that particular community. So the governor's offer may not have been suitable. Community centers DO need to be near the people they serve.

      August 11, 2010 at 7:59 pm |
    • Tamashi Shinto

      But as people have pointed out, there arent many muslims there in lower manhattan and there are mosques around that area, why would u need a 13 storied 100 mil dollar building if its purpose is to serve a small number of people in that area when they have mosqus they can go to. whatvere reasons they hid behind, facts belie their true intentions, especially this rebuttal of theirs. Why dont they be honest and come out and say, look we own this land we build whteva we want and yes we hose this specific site to rub it in.

      August 11, 2010 at 8:06 pm |
  15. Qalam96

    Lower Manhattan was selected because the group has already been implanted there for TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS and want to foster a rapprochement with its neighbours by building a 15-storey community centre with a chapel (a prayer room on one floor) that will be like the YMCAs and YMHAs that used to be so common in U.S. cities. Why is there so much anger over this project near but not in sight of the WTC property? No one seems to be anger about the mosque (prayer room) that is located inside the Pentagon, which sustained a direct hit on 9/11. Why can American Muslims use a prayer room inside the Pentagon without controversy but are vilified for wanting to build a community center for all that is not even within sight of the WTC property? The Board of Directors of the Cordoba House project has Muslim, Christian and Jewish members.

    August 11, 2010 at 7:54 pm |
  16. USS Mendota

    I am the daughter of a career FDNY. Growing up my family spent a lot of time with other FDNY families. On 9/11 I lost 343 family members To help the family members of the firefighters who died on that day I gave a donation to the Uniformed Firefighter's Association because throughout his adult life my father was a member of that wonderful organization.

    One of the lessons I learned from my father was not to judge a whole cultural or religious group by the actions of a few. He often talked about the Nisei (Japanese-Americans) who were rounded up and placed in internment camps just because of their heritage. He then spoke of the 442nd Regiment's (composed of Nisei) bravery and patriotism while fighting in Europe for a country that had treated them so poorly. Recently I learned that Nisei also served in the Pacific as translators. When the war ended they returned to signs saying "No Japs Allowed."

    The people who lump all Muslims together are repeating the mistake made during World War II. Hopefully, if the mosque is built, it will be a place of healing not division.

    August 11, 2010 at 7:47 pm |
  17. STUPIDCANO

    NO YOU NEED TO SHUT UP AND STOP TERRORIZING THIS BLOG...

    NOTHING TO DO WITH FEELING....

    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 7:46 pm |
  18. Scott NH

    As an American Jew whose grandparents moved here from Russia to escape the pogroms, and Germany to escape persecution. My grandfather after moving here worked in the military his entire life to protect freedom of religion. The America he believed in and fought for welcomes the Mosque. And yes, I do know someone who died in 9/11 and I know someone else who didn't only because she happened to have a dentist appointment that morning. I don't find it disrespectful in any way.

    August 11, 2010 at 7:46 pm |
  19. mario

    You built it and it will be blow up...you will see someone will do just that...something we need to do to keep the ragheads a taste of home for them.

    August 11, 2010 at 7:41 pm |
  20. Joe "Bubba" Rhineheart

    RE: " jefferson adams
    wouldn't it be hilarious if some fanatical christian flew a plane into the mosque after it was completed!"

    Sir, I couldn't agree with you more!
    I personally would bomb it.
    Enough is enough, they don't have sensitivity for us, why should we have it for them?
    Perhaps we should declare holy JIhad in the US against them .
    Then perhaps, they will know how it feels.................

    August 11, 2010 at 7:37 pm |
    • Americano

      BUBBA...

      I'LL BET THE FBI will be knocking on your door pretty soon..
      TERRORIST THREAT IS STILL a federal crime and they will add, HATE CRIME,
      MURDER... BECAUSE YOU WILL ALSO BE killing , christians, jews, indians etc... who happened to live, work or driving by...

      dimmmwitts

      this is AMERICA THE LAND OF THE FREE

      FOR ALL

      NOT ONLY MORONNNNNSS, BIGGGOOOTS, AND RACISTSSSS

      August 11, 2010 at 7:48 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.