Protesters at last night’s meeting
Despite an outpouring of protest by 9/11 survivors, first responders, and their families, the New York City Community Board 1 has voted 29-1 in favor of building a mosque at Ground Zero, the site where Islamic terrorists committed the largest act of terrorism on American soil on September 11, 2001.
The New York Post reports that while the board has no official say over whether the estimated US$100 million mosque and community center gets built, the panel’s support, or lack of it, is considered important in influencing public opinion.
A New Yorker stands up against the mosque
An emotional four-hour debate raged before the vote, with about 150 New Yorkers attending the Greenwich Street meeting with signs opposing the proposed mosque.
“That [Ground Zero] is a burial ground,” retired FDNY Deputy Chief Al Santora told The Post. His wife, Maureen, said “I do have a problem with having a mosque on top of the site where [terrorists] can gloat about what they did.”
The Santora’s son, 23-year-old son, Christopher, was the youngest firefighter to die that day. 343 firefighters and paramedics were killed when the World Trade Center came crashing down.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who supports building the mosque, stood in front of the site before the meeting and said, “What we’re rejecting here is outright bigotry and hatred.”
Catholic priest Kevin Madigan, of St. Peter’s Church, which is about a block away, agreed.
“I think they need to establish a place such as this for people of goodwill from mainline Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths so we can come together to talk,” Madigan said.
The mosque is part of a larger community center project called Cordoba House, which will include a performing arts center, swimming pool, culinary school, child care facilities. Spokeswoman for the project, Daisy Khan claims the project will provide 150 full-time jobs, 500 part-time jobs to New York City.
Why the Cordoba House?
Cordoba House is a Muslim-led project which will build a world-class facility that promotes tolerance, reflecting the rich diversity of New York City. The center will be community-driven, serving as a platform for inter-community gatherings and cooperation at all levels, providing a space for all New Yorkers to enjoy.
This proposed project is about promoting integration, tolerance of difference and community cohesion through arts and culture. Cordoba House will provide a place where individuals, regardless of their backgrounds, will find a center of learning, art and culture; and most importantly, a center guided by Islamic values in their truest form – compassion, generosity, and respect for all.
The site will contain tremendous amounts of resources that otherwise would not exist in Lower Manhattan; a 500-seat auditorium, swimming pool, art exhibition spaces, bookstores, restaurants – all these services would form a cultural nexus for a region of New York City that, as it continues to grow, requires the sort of hub that Cordoba House will provide.