A major hurdle preventing an Islamic worship center to be built near Ground Zero in New York has been removed by the city’s Landmark Preservation Commission vote. The decision to deny landmark status to the 152-year-old building paves the way for construction to start with the structure’s demolition.
Many in New York have questioned the funding of the center and why it should be built near Ground Zero. Carl Paladino, a Tea Party-inspired gubernatorial candidate in New York, said he doesn’t believe the center should be built and plans on preventing it if elected.
“As governor, I will use the power of imminent domain to stop the mosque and use the site as a war memorial instead of a monument to those who attacked our country,” Paladino said in a campaign ad.
Meanwhile, the American Center for Law and Justice has filed suit against the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The group is representing Tim Brown, a firefighter who survived the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Current New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg thinks the center should be built and sees questions about its funding as crossing the line. “People say, well, you know, ‘Do they have the money? Can they raise the money? Where does it come from?’“ Bloomberg said Friday on his WOR-AM radio show. “I don’t know, and government shouldn’t – do you really want every time they pass the basket in your church and you throw a buck in, they run over and say, ‘Okay, now, you know, where do you come from? Who are your parents? Where’d you get this money?'”
The Muslim community in New York is appreciative of Bloomberg and his stand for religious tolerance. Aliya Latif, civil rights director for the Council of American-Islamic Relations credits Bloomberg for not falling prey to anti-Muslim rhetoric.
“We thank Mayor Bloomberg for seeing through the anti-Muslim smears and divisive political tactics that have clouded this issue,” Latif said in a statement. “By clearly supporting equal treatment and freedom of worship, Mayor Bloomberg has taken a principled stand that is true to the essence of our Constitution.”