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Religious Tolerance logo

A proposed Muslim community center near 9/11's "ground zero"

2010-AUG-03: Landmarks committee decision.

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2010-AUG-03: Landmarks Preservation Committee denies landmark status to warehouse:

On 2010-AUG-03, in an unanimous 9 to 0 decision, the Landmarks Preservation Committee denied landmark status to the building at 45-47 Park Street which the Washington Times correctly stated is "a few blocks from the former World Trade Center." The Times also identified the proposed structure as "a "Muslim cultural center and mosque" which is fairly close to reality. It would be a 13 story cultural center with a prayer room somewhere in the structure. Such degree of accuracy is rare among politically and religiously conservative conservative news sources that often identify the structure as simply a mosque and its location as "at" or "near" ground zero.

The committee based its decision on its assessment that the 152 year-old warehouse had little historic value worth presurving.

The meeting was well attended by those opposed to and in favor of the construction of a Muslim community center at that location. The decision of the Committee was met with applause as well as with cries of "Shame on you" and "Disaster." Attendee Linda Rivera held an American flag in her right hand and held up a sign in her left hand stating: "Islam builds mosques at the sites of their conquests and victories." Crying, she said: "I lost 3,000 American brothers and sisters, including courageous policemen and firemen, and this is a betrayal."

Another sign stated: "Islam builds mosques at the sites of their conquests and victories." Still another read: "Don't glorify murders of 3,000. No 9/11 victory mosque." The implication seems to be that they regard Islam as a monolithic religion, and do not differentiate among:

  • The 19 violent, fundamentalist, extremist hate-filled terrorists who perpetrated 9/11 and
  • The moderate and tolerant Sufi tradition of Islam followed by the groups promoting Cordoba House, and
  • The rest of Islam.

Blogger Pamela Gellar blamed New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for the committee decision. He, like most residents of Manhattan, is in favor of the project. She wrote:"They're all Bloomberg appointees. Not one voted off the reservation; it's like Mike's toolbox." She said that Bloomberg had promoted Cordoba House because he is focused more on "... political correctness than patriotic correctness." She referred to the proposed community center as a "victory mosque" and suggested that it has caused enormous pain to the families of victims of 9/11.

Ibraham Hooper, spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations said that the effort to get landmark status for the warehouse was a "smokescreen [for ...] Muslim bashers. ... How far away would they have to build? How big is the Muslim-free zone around ground zero? ... these people would deny American Muslims their constitutional rights." He noted how religious and political conservatives typically fight for the rights of property owners, but "...cast off that belief when it comes to Islam and Muslims."

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Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, chairperson of the Cordoba Initiative which is sponsoring the center referred to the Committee, saying:

"Our faith community is indebted to them, and to our local community board, for their commitment to the democratic and constitutional ideals we all hold dear and which the community center we hope to create on the site will honor."

He also referred to the project as providing an opportunity for "healing, peace, collaboration, and interdependence"

Commenting on Imam Rauf's comment, Gellar said: "It's a grave insult, and the idea of this being outreach and healing and building bridges — frankly, it rings hollow. It's astounding, but it's not surprising."

Mayor Bloomberg held a press conference, stating:

"The World Trade Center site will forever hold a special place in our city, in our hearts. But we would be untrue to the best part of ourselves, and who we are as New Yorkers and Americans, if we said no to a mosque in Lower Manhattan."

The New York Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union issued a joint statement praising the decision as promoting:

"... our nation's core values. ... The free exercise of religion is one of America's most fundamental freedoms. For hundreds of years, our pluralism and tolerance have sustained and strengthened our nation. ... We see the center as a monument to pluralism, symbolic of America's commitment to religious freedom."

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a fundamentalist Christian legal defense group, was critical of the Committee's decision. They issued a statement saying that they expect:

"... to file an Article 78 petition in state court to challenge the city's actions. We will allege that there's been an abuse of discretion in the Commission's decision." 1

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References used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. Michal Elseth, "Panel allows mosque close to ground zero. No sign of Muslim-9/11 healing," The Washington Times, 2010-AUG-03, at:
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Copyright © 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2010-JUL-27
Latest update: 2010-AUG-25
Author: B.A. Robinson

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