Planned New York Islamic center near Sept. 11 site wins approval

By Reuters Staff
August 3, 2010

A New York city agency denied “landmark” status for an old building near the site of the Sept. 11 attacks, clearing the way for the building to be torn down to make room for a Muslim cultural center which has spurred heated debate.

The City Landmarks Commission decision on Tuesday allows for the demolition of a building near where the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers stood and paves the way for construction of the Cordoba House, set to include a prayer room and a 500-seat auditorium as part of a 13-story cultural complex.

The project, which includes a mosque, drew emotional opposition from protesters who called the location inappropriate in a city still grappling with how to commemorate the attacks carried out by Islamic militants.

Critics hoped to stall the project by having it declared a historic landmark, arguing it deserved protection because pieces from one of the hijacked planes hit the building.

But commission members argued that the Italianate building from 1857, situated among a row of businesses, held no historic value. On Tuesday, the nine-person commission voted unanimously against landmark status.

Here’s a video of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, chairman of the project, explaining its purpose:

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