There have been a slew of local controversies in the past decade over the proposed construction of mosques and Islamic community centers. Mayor Michael Bloomberg rightly stood up for religious liberty against vitriolic opposition to the construction of an Islamic center in Lower Manhattan. With the mayor’s support, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously allowed the project to proceed and it is, slowly.
Such good sense is not as common as it should be. This spring, officials in Bridgewater, N.J., opposed a plan to turn an old inn, formerly used for weddings and political events, into the town’s only mosque. Rather than stand up to the opposition, stirred up partly by the Tea Party, the mayor, the township council and the planning board raced to change the zoning rules so that a house of worship would no longer be a permitted use on the inn’s property.
The furor over an Islamic center and mosque planned near ground zero flared up again on Tuesday, as lawyers for a former New York City firefighter asked a judge to overturn the city’s decision to withhold landmark protection for the building site.
The decision last August by the Landmarks Preservation Commission removed a significant obstacle to the planned construction of a tower on Park Place, two blocks from the site of the 9/11 attack. The former firefighter, Timothy Brown, sued the city that month, saying the commission had been unfairly influenced by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has forcefully supported the right of the site’s owner to build the center, known as Park51.
By the CNN Wire Staff
New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission will hold a hearing Tuesday to decide whether a century-old building near ground zero is worth preserving. The hearing is expected to be contentious because if the commission rules the building is not worth landmarking, it will pave the way for a mosque and community center that has been planned there.