A conservative group representing a New York City firefighter who survived the 9/11 attacks has filed a lawsuit to overturn a decision to build a mosque near Ground Zero.
The American Center for Law and Justice is urging the state Supreme Court to nullify an Aug. 3 decision by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission allowing construction to begin on the 13-story Islamic center.
The panel, which was sponsored by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, voted 9-0 in favor of the mosque. The building is a project of the Cordoba Initiative group.
"It has been clear from the beginning that the city has engaged in a rush to push this project through - ignoring proper procedure and ignoring a growing number of New Yorkers and Americans who don't believe this site is the place to build a mosque," said ACLJ chief counsel Jay Sekulow.
"We're hopeful that the court will nullify the Commission's vote and conclude what most New Yorkers and Americans understand this site is sacred ground and not the place to build a mosque," he later added.
According to the commissioners, the 152-year-old building the mosque will replace does not meet historic criteria to qualify as a landmark.
"We really stand for peace, and peace is what matters the most," said Daisy Khan, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement. "And we believe the symbolism of being close to the site that had so much tragedy emanating from it is the very site that we believe will bring about much healing."
Former New York Mayor Rudi Giuliani also didn't mince words when he called the mosque a "desecration," while talking to conservative talk radio host Jeff Katz. He added that "decent Muslims" would take no offense at opposition to the Islamic center since they too desired peace.
"Nobody would allow something like that at Pearl Harbor. Let's have some respect for who died there and why they died there," Giuliani said. "Let's not put this off on some kind of politically correct theory."
Meanwhile, a prominent Jewish group has also spoken out against the mosque. The Anti-Defamation League said the mosque would be disrespectful to the victims and families of Sept. 11 and that the location was "counterproductive to the healing process."