Panel Approves Mosque Near Ground Zero

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has hailed the approval by a panel of a plan to build a mosque a couple of blocks from the World Trade Center site, calling it a victory for religious freedom.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission struck down a call to preserve a 152-year-old building in Lower Manhattan, which developers plan to tear down to give way to the construction of a mosque. In voting unanimously against the request, the panel said the old building is not distinctive enough to be considered a landmark.

Opponents of the plan criticized the decision, saying that building the mosque would be an insult to the memory of those who perished when the World Trade Center twin towers were attacked by Islamic militants on September 11, 2001. Opponents of the mosque led by Rev. Pat Robertson said they would bring their case to a state court.

However, Bloomberg said the decision reinforces America’s belief in religious freedom. “The World Trade Center site will forever hold a special place in our city, in our hearts, but we would be untrue to the best part of ourselves, and who we are as New Yorkers and Americans, if we said no to a mosque in lower Manhattan,” he said.