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Despite Protests, Mosque Plan Near 9/11 Site Wins Key Vote

Posted by on May. 26, 2010 at 4:15 PM
  • 5 Replies

Opponents called it an "insult," "demeaning" and a "house of evil," but the angry protests did not stop an advisory board from approving plans to build a mosque and Islamic center two blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Residents protest proposal to build mosque near site of 9/11 terror attacks.

In a heated, four hour meeting Tuesday night, Community Board 1, which represents the area of lower Manhattanthat includes Ground Zero, voted 29-1 in favor of the proposal. There were 10 abstentions. At the raucous meeting, some relatives carried signs with the faces of 9/11 victims, reflecting still-raw emotions nearly a decade after the terrorist attacks. "This is an insult," said one of the more than 150 people at the meeting. "This is demeaning. This is humiliating that you would build a shrine to the very ideology that inspired the attacks on 9/11."

Angrily pointing a finger at board members, another protester said: "This house of evil will be the birthplace of the next terrorist event."

But Community Board 1 member Rob Townley called the plan a "seed of peace," a message repeated by mosque supporters throughout the night.

"We believe that this is a significant step in the Muslim community to counteract the hate and fanaticism in the minority of the community," he said.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the man behind the mosque proposal, said he understood the pain and outrage, especially since Muslims also died in the attacks. "We have condemned the actions of 9/11," Abdul Rauf said. "We have condemned terrorism." Still, plans to build a mosque and Islamic community center could be thwarted by the New York City's Landmarks Commission, which will hold a hearing on the matter in the early summer.

The proposal to build an Islamic center and mosque just blocks from the city's most hallowed ground has divided survivors of the nearly 3,000 people who perished on Sept. 11, 2001, with many families vehemently opposed to plan.

Many have complained that it would be insensitive to have a huge mosque two blocks from the site that became the burial ground for victims of the 9/11 terror attack by Muslim militants of Al Qaeda.

Elisabeth de Bourbon, a spokeswoman for the Landmarks Preservation Commission, said a hearing is scheduled to determine the historic status of the building that is currently on the site. The building, constructed between 1857 and 1858 in the Italian Renaissance palazzo style, could be historically significant.

If the old Burlington Coat Factory building at 45 Park Place is determined to have landmark status, that designation would mean the building cannot be torn down to make way for the Islamic cultural center.

The Landmarks Commission has had a pending application for landmark status for the site since 1989, de Bourbon said. The application had been on hold for more than two decades but was recently reinstated after a review by the commission.

She insisted the current review is unrelated to the controversy surrounding the proposed mosque and Islamic center.

"This is a totally separate issue," de Bourbon told "What we're looking at it is whether the building has the architectural and historic significance to the city of New York to merit landmark designation."

The commission will hold a hearing and vote on the landmarks status in the early summer.

Members of the landmarks commission are appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has supported the project. "Anybody wants to build a house of worship in this city, we'd love to do it," Bloomberg told reporters last week. "They have to comply with the zoning laws. In this case, I think the community board's already been consulted and they overwhelmingly like the idea."

Community Board 1's 12-member Financial District committee unanimously voted in favor of the plan earlier this month.

Mosque Near 9/11 Would Be Known as Cordoba House

Noah Pfefferblit, Community Board 1's district manager, said the board voted on a resolution in favor of the plan's community center without taking a position on the mosque.

"Most of the resolutions are approved but this is an unusual one because it's been very controversial," he said. "Our members would not be comfortable recommending or not recommending a house of worship."

The mosque is only one component of the Islamic center complex, which also includes a swimming pool, performance space and a basketball court. The center is the brainchild of Abdul Rauf, a New York imam, and Daisy Khan, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement. The couple hopes to raise the estimated $100 million to raze the building at 45 Park Place to make room for the multi-story glass-and-steel structure two blocks from ground zero. The Islamic center would be known as Cordoba House and include a mosque for up to 1,500 worshippers on Fridays. Some 500 people already use the site of the old Burlington Coat Factory for Friday prayers

by on May. 26, 2010 at 4:15 PM
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by on May. 26, 2010 at 4:17 PM


by on May. 26, 2010 at 4:18 PM


Great news! I am happy for them!

"It is in our obligation to endure that we achieve the right to know."
~My Dad   

"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men" 
~Fredrick Douglass

by on May. 26, 2010 at 4:23 PM

Muslim Americans Under Attack As Far Right Fights To Deny Them From Building Their Own Places Of Worship

flageIn communities across the country, Muslim Americans are under attack as radical conservatives are denying them the right to build their own places of worship. Here are a few examples:

– In Brentwood, Tennessee, Muslims planned to build the first mosque ever in Williamson County. After agreeing to numerous restrictions on how they would build their mosque so as to not offend the surrounding community — like not having outdoor speakersto broadcast the Islamic call to prayer — the Muslim community was finallyable to get the Brentwood city commission to approve land to be used to build a mosque. Radical conservatives responded, and “through e-mails, blogs and word of mouth, opponents told friends and neighbors they were suspicious of the mosque and feared its leaders had ties to terrorist organizations.” After intense community pressure, the mosque’s builders decided last week to simply withdraw their plans. “There comes a time when you have to say, ‘We can’t do this anymore,” said Jaweed Ansari, a Brentwood physician involved in the mosque project.

– Two nights ago, the city council of Alpharetta, Georgia, voted unanimously to deny “an application by the Islamic Center of North Fulton to expand” their mosque. Alpharetta Muslim Parwaiz Iqbalprotested the decision, saying, “If we are denied a decent place of worship, you might as well hang a banner here in downtown Alpharetta that Muslims are not welcome in this city.”

– In New York City, radical conservatives are attacking plans to build a mosque in a 13-story community center located two blocks from Ground Zero. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) joined the crusade against the mosque by saying it’s “very offensive and wrong” to build it, while regretfully admitting that it can’t legally “be stopped, however, because of the first amendment.” All of the right-wing outrage ignores the fact that innocent Muslim Americans, too, died on 9/11 — like Salman Hamdani, a police cadet and part-time ambulance driver who died “doing everything he could to help those in need” at Ground Zero. Last night, a Manhattan community board backed the proposal to build the Muslim community center there by a 29-1 vote.

In addition to being denied their places of worship, Muslim communities have been the victims of dangerous hate crimes. Last week, the Islamic Center of North Florida wasrocked by an explosion, and police suspect that a pipe bomb was responsible. The Islamic Center is located in Jacksonville, Florida, and is attended by Muslim Human Rights Commission member Parvez Ahmed, who recently faced hateful remarks from a city councilman and area residents over his faith. Noting the lack of media coverage of the attack relative to the failed car bombing in Times Square, Matthew Yglesias observed, “Somehow this attack, despite its greater technical sophistication, hasn’t obtained nearly the same level of media attention. And I just can’t figure out why.”

The Washington Post noted Monday that the rise in anti-Muslim tensions has “prompted many Pakistanis who once had deep ties to the United States to look elsewhere for work, education and travel. It has also left some Pakistani Americans feeling uneasy in their adopted homeland.” “My uncle has been living in the United States for years,” said Akmal Abassi, an English language instructor and in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. “He still admires the American values of freedom and equality, but now it ismuch harder for him to convince people here at home.”

UPDATEThe Wonk Room's Matt Duss notes that the Wall Street Journal's Bret Stephens has proposed a religious litmus test that Muslims should have to answer before they open mosques. Reflecting on the test, Duss writes, "Would Stephens, or anyone, dare propose a similar religious test for any other faith? What about asking Jews whether they condemn violence by Jewish settlers in the West Bank before they can build a synagogue somewhere? Or asking Christians planning a new church whether they will invite the input and participation of Christian gay and lesbian groups? You know, just as a 'confidence-building measure'? Doubtful. It would be considered un-American."
by on May. 26, 2010 at 5:49 PM


by on May. 26, 2010 at 5:58 PM

 Yep the religious right trying to force what they believe on everyone else trying to make this a totally Christian nation.  Can you say Communisim? 

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