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Islamic center moves closer to Ground Zero

The New  York City Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously voted to deny landmark status to the 152-year old Italianate-style office building near the former World Trade Center site destroyed by Islamic fundamentalist terrorists on September 11, 2001, clearing the way for developers to demolish the structure and erect a $100 million Islamic cultural center on the site that will include a worship center for 1000 – 2000 Muslims.

The former Burlington Coat Factory Building in downtown NYC, proposed site of Islamic Center
Timothy Clary for Getty Images

The developer, Sharif El-Gamal, owner of SoHo Properties LLC, says the center will become a showcase for moderate Islam. The iman behind the religious center, Fiesel Abdul Rauf professes to be a voice of moderation and bridge building between Islam and the West.

Those are the facts. The issue has become understandably incendiary. The cause against the mosque has unfortunately been taken up by the American political right. I say ‘unfortunately’ because opposition to the mosque will likely become a club with which to bludgeon those moderates like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who commented, “Everything the United States stands for and New York City stands for is tolerance and openness…”

And yet, this is a wound that still festers. The imminent construction of an Islamic Center within two blocks of the site, while the rebuilding of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, located at 155 Cedar Street, across from the former South Tower which collapsed on top of it on 9/11, remains mired in the stalled redevelopment of the Trade Center site suggests symbolically that somehow Islam is about to wrest a victory from this tragedy that still haunts Americans.

What has won is New York City’s appreciation for real estate and the rules and regulations that determine who is a clear winner and who a stalled loser. While the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey wrestles with the complicated logistics and politics of redeveloping that site, Mr. El-Gamal and his partner, the Cordoba Initiative, founded by Iman Abdul Rauf, have quietly put together an assemblage of properties requiring only a purpose and limited public review in comparison.

I’d certainly like to know what readers think. Please take the time to check the links in this article for more information on the story and post your comments below.


  • Eva Andretsos 4 years ago

    They are throwing blocks into the rebuilding of our Orthodox Church that was destroyed on 9/11/01....... but they are allowing an Islamic Cultural Center to go up??? What's wrong with this? Can we build churches in their country?? NO Can we practice our religion in their country?? NO........ THIS IS SO WRONG!!! The committee in New York allowing this must be out of it's collective mind. The 3,000 people killed during 9/11 will have died in vein.. we will be spitting on their graves and telling them "The hell with you, you don't count, but your killers do, we will honor them but not you, who died at their hands." Come on America, wake up, take a stand, oppose this by speaking out against this outrage!! NO NO NO!!!! Stop putting blocks in the way of rebuilding our destroyed church, allow us get on with construction........ DO NOT ALLOW THE BUILDING OF A CENTER TO HONOR THOSE WHO ARE ONLY WANTING OUR DOWNFALL!! WAKE UP NEW YORK... WAKE UP NEW YORK... WAKE UP AMERICA!!!!!!!

  • Christopher L 4 years ago

    The Imam of the Mosque is for Sharia Law, that is not moderate. Maybe next time you will do some actual research.

    Islam is a religion of war, that allows lying and rape. It is a threat to both the left, and right.

    http ://

  • Christopher L 4 years ago

    Islamic Law calls for the domination of non-Muslim, that is a fact, but the best Gus can do is attack the right. I wonder if it ever crossed his mind, what life for his family's future generations will be like living under Islamic rule? How much more of the world do Muslims have to takeover, before Gus wakes up?

  • Gardfunkel 4 years ago

    America is supposed to be the land of tradition of tolerance for all religions. Apparent most Americans are not! Shame!

  • Gus 4 years ago

    The issue seems to transcend Left vs. Right, although the Right is less shy about its stand. This redevelopment is not on the 9/11 site, but about two blocks north, while the Greek Orthodox church, located right across the street, has stalled in the exchange of title for property nearby to build the church due to several complicated site factors. The issue challenges normally tolerant Americans because they don't trust Islam, and have seen very little evidence to do so.

  • Ron 4 years ago

    This is an Islamic center, not a mosque. It happens to have a place for people to worship, so what. Is a hospital a church because it has a chapel?

  • AnneM 4 years ago

    This mosque building plans shows no concerns whatsoever to the reality that it would be built not far from the Ground Zero site, it being a graveyard to those who died on that day. Also as a prior posting, there is a REAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH, a Greek Orthodox church that still is waiting to be rebuilt. Also this mosque will be seen as a form of a "victory" building to the attackers. Have that Greek Orthodox church rebuilt before any new worship center is built.

  • Lix 4 years ago

    Unlimited tolerance is not a virtue. You don't have to belong to a political party to be enraged by a symbol. An Islamic center next to a site destroyed by Islamic extremists is a powerful symbol.

  • santo 4 years ago

    shame on us if we allow this to happen,tell me what the new yorker legislators are trying to accomplish?keeping our enemy closer?LOL ,it is really funny .for 9 years i haven't heard any real Muslim denouncing the terrorist's act in Sept/11 ,now they want to built the mosque to show their solidarity?what a joke .oh I forgot ,they are trying to keep their enemy closer .for your information this enemy doesn't like to be just closer he is holding his breath waiting to get strong and stronger then we will have entirely different America and thanks to lord i won't be a live that time.i really feel sorry for our kids and grandkids they will suffer a looooooooooot?you know why because some stupid and idiot people put america for is all about money.I do not surprise if they start building another mosque next year or 5 years from now next to the white house as long there is money envolved.

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