NEW YORK’S Landmarks Preservation Commission has given the green light to plans to build a multi-storey mosque just around the corner from the site of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre.
Opponents of the building believed the $100m mosque – which will stand over 13 storeys – was an insensitive monument to the deaths of almost 3,000 people killed when two planes flew into the ‘twin towers’ of the centre.
But the mosque was approved after the city’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, said that Muslim religious freedom had to be respected.
The mayor had been opposed by fellow Republicans Newt Gingrich, who labelled it an “act of triumphalism”, and Sarah Palin who called it “a stab in the heart of the families of the innocent victims” of September 11.
Opponents had appealed to the Commission to declare the site a landmark so as to protect it from non-municipal use, but it voted unanimously that the building – a disused former coat factory – was not considered important enough to merit the status.
Backers of the scheme, however, believe it would help to promote tolerance and that the Cordoba House mosque would ultimately become a symbol of good inter-faith relations within America.
The commission’s hearings had seen significant public protests, with protestors holding signs that claimed Islam “builds mosques at the sites of their conquests and victories” and “Don’t glorify murders of 3,000 – no 9/11 victory mosque”.