The proposed “Mega Mosque” at the Ground Zero site in lower Manhattan received a green light on Tuesday when the New York City Planning Commission voted not to extend the landmark status on the present building at 45-47 Park Place.
It is the former Burlington Coat Factory. The Commission voted unanimously and said there was nothing distinctive about the 152 year old building. That means the owners can tear down the present structure and replace it with a $100 million 15 story Islamic community center and mosque.
The mosque has generated considerable controversy and the present Mayor of New York City and his predecessor represent opposing camps in the controversy. Rudy Giuliani was in office from 1994 until December 31, 2001.
He is often described as “America’s Mayor” and was the incumbent at the time of the 9/11 attack. Giuliani was Time magazine’s 2001 “Person of the Year,” and for several months in 2007, he was the front running GOP presidential candidate. He has given several interviews in opposition to the mosque and says:
It’s a mosque backed by an imam who has a record of support for causes that were sympathetic with terrorism. Come on! We’re gonna allow that at ground zero? This is a desecration. Nobody would allow something like that at Pearl Harbor. Let’s have some respect for who died there and why they died there. Let’s not put this off on some kind of politically correct theory.
I mean, they died there because of Islamic extremist terrorism. They are our enemy, we can say that, the world will not end when we say that. And the reality is, it will not and should not insult any decent Muslim because decent Muslims should be as opposed to Islamic extremism as you and I are.
CBS and NBC both refused to air a “Kill the Ground Zero Mosque” television ad. Giuliani’s viewpoint is supported by the Anti-Defamation League, former Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Palin issued a plea to “Peace-seeking Muslims, please understand, the Ground Zero mosque is an unnecessary provocation. It stabs hearts. Please reject it in interest of healing.” She went on to say the 9/11 attack caused “catastrophic pain” and the “Twin Towers site is too raw, too real.”
Incumbent Mayor Michael Bloomberg has an opposing view. Yesterday the Mayor was joined by 10 religious leaders who welcomed the mosque, and Bloomberg said:
We may not always agree with every one of our neighbors. That’s life. And it’s part of living in such a diverse and dense city. But we also recognize that part of being a New Yorker is living with your neighbors in mutual respect and tolerance. It was exactly that spirit of openness and acceptance that was attacked on 9/11, 2001.
The simple fact is, this building is private property, and the owners have a right to use the building as a house of worship, and the government has no right whatsoever to deny that right. And if it were tried, the courts would almost certainly strike it down as a violation of the U.S. Constitution.