Group threatens court action over Ground Zero mosque

2010-08-04 13:24

Plans to build an Islamic community centre and mosque near Ground Zero moved forward as a city panel opened the way for developers to tear down a building that was struck by aeroplane debris during the September 11 2001 attacks.

Even as the project’s backers celebrated the decision, a conservative advocacy group founded by the Reverend Pat Robertson announced that it would challenge the panel’s vote in court.

Brett Joshpe, an attorney for the American Centre for Law and Justice (ACLJ), said the group would file a petition alleging that the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission “acted arbitrarily and abused its discretion”.

The panel voted unanimously yesterday to deny landmark status to a building two blocks from the World Trade Centre site that developers want to tear down and convert into an Islamic community centre and mosque.

The panel said the 152-year-old lower Manhattan building isn’t distinctive enough to be considered a landmark.

Oz Sultan, a spokesperson for the developers, said they had no comment on the possible legal action by the ACLJ. But he said the developers were grateful for the decision by the landmarks panel.

The decision drew praise from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who stepped before cameras on Governor’s Island with the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop shortly after the panel voted and said: “The World Trade Centre site will forever hold a special place in our city, in our hearts.”

The Republican-turned-Independent added: “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.”

Opponents of the mosque say it disrespects the memory of those killed at the hands of Islamic terrorists on September 11 2001.

Jeers and shouts of “shame on you” could be heard after the panel’s vote.

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