Landmark Hearings to Begin on Ground Zero Mosque

The ground zero mosque controversy heats up.

By Katy Tur
|  Tuesday, Aug 17, 2010  |  Updated 4:03 PM EDT
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A proposed site for a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero in lower Manhattan is seen (R) May 25, 2010 in New York City. The plan to build the 15-story, $100 million mosque -- which is so close to the site of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that debris from one of the hijacked planes smashed through the roof of the existing building there -- is surrounded by controversy, and politicians and activists are preparing on both sides of the debate. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

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On Staten Island, in Sheepshead Bay and at Ground Zero, plans to open new Mosques in New York City are being met with fierce opposition, and none more heatedly than the one that could end up at 45-47 Park Place near the site of the 9/11 attacks.

“The clothing and the way that people are…”, describes one Lower Manhattan worker about his feelings against a Mosque near ground zero. “I spent 13 weeks down here doing search and rescue and no one even wanted to look at anybody like that.”

Last Week Republican hopeful for Governor, Rick Lazio, called on Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, his Democratic opponent, to investigate the group behind the proposed Mosque and Islamic Community center a few blocks from the World Trade Center. Citing the New York Post, Lazio questioned the sympathies of the center, called the Cordoba House, to known terror groups and also where the center will get its funding, stating that “the people have a right to know if this ‘charity’ is using its resources in a legitimate, legal, and charitable way.”

On Monday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg responded to Lazio’s comments, saying that investigating or vetting religious organizations goes against what the nation stands for.

In May, Community Board 1 approved the Cordoba House. Now, the plans go to the New York City Landmark’s Committee, where technically the issue at hand is not whether or not the community wants the Mosque built or if the Cordoba Initiative should be investigated, but if the building’s architecture, which would be torn down, needs to be saved

Valerie Lucznikowska, who lost her Nephew in the 2nd Tower, doesn’t believe the park place building has any unique value for a Landmark. The September, 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows member believes this latest hurdle is just another way to block the construction. “I think its anger and frustration that doesn’t know where to go because they’re frightened,” Lucznikowska says. “So they take their anger and frustration out on those they don’t know and I think that is actually the history of prejudice.”

Khaled Hedfi, a Muslim American, runs a food cart around the corner from the potential Mosque, a stone’s throw from where the towers fell. “All those people who are going to pray there, they work in those offices right there”, Hedfi says as he points to ground zero, “they worked in The World Trade Center, what’s the big difference? Its not a big deal.”

The Landmark’s hearing starts at 2 p.m. on Tuesday. The vote, however, won’t take place until later this summer. 

 

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