Posted by on August 03, 2010 in Blog

Today, New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted 9 to 0 against granting historic protection to the building at 45-47 Park Place and eliminated the key hurdle propped up by anti-Muslim groups opposed to the Islamic center in Lower Manhattan.  The project became a focal point of controversy given the views of a loud minority who objected to its proximity to ground zero, a controversy which was exploited by rightwing politicians who played divisive politics by fanning anti-Muslim sentiments.
As a committed advocate of religious freedom and an example of principled and responsible leadership in charged times, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg offered the following remarks after the LPC unanimous decision:

Our doors are open to everyone - everyone with a dream and a willingness to work hard and play by the rules. New York City was built by immigrants, and it is sustained by immigrants - by people from more than a hundred different countries speaking more than two hundred different languages and professing every faith. And whether your parents were born here, or you came yesterday, you are a New Yorker... Let us not forget that Muslims were among those murdered on 9/11 and that our Muslim neighbors grieved with us as New Yorkers and as Americans. We would betray our values - and play into our enemies' hands - if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else. In fact, to cave to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists - and we should not stand for that.

Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, head of the Islamic center project, issued a statement thanking the LPC and several local elected officials for their "commitment to the democratic and constitutional ideals we all hold dear and which the community center we hope to create on the site will honor." Imam Faisal went on to say:

Park 51 will be a home for all people who are yearning for understanding and healing, peace, collaboration, and interdependence. We are more determined than ever to take this opportunity, which we also see as a responsibility to our community and to our neighbors in Lower Manhattan. We are creating a new space where fresh stories of cooperation and service will reflect the living vibrancy of inter-connected communities.

While we expect more attempts to derail the project, the opponents of the Islamic center will ultimately fail. With the way the great majority of New Yorkers and their elected officials have acted, today was a proud day for New York -- and for our country.