US right-wing group challenges decision over 9/11 Ground Zero mosque project

     An American right-wing group has challenged a New York panel's decision to let developers tear down a building to make way for the construction of an Islamic community center and mosque near the 9/11 Ground Zero. The American Center for Law and Justice has sued New York City's Landmark Preservation Commission just a day after it cleared the path for the 100 million dollar project. "Commissioners allowed the intended use of the building and political considerations to taint the deliberative process," The New York Daily News quoted court papers, as saying. The commission had voted unanimously against granting protected status to the 152-year-old Italian palazzo-style building two blocks north of Ground Zero, saying that it does not rise to the level of an individual landmark. "This smacks of political interference. There was an extraordinary amount of pressure put on Landmarks to get this building off their calendar so the mosque could move forward," said Tim Brown, who filed the lawsuit with the American Center. The lawsuit argues that the building's design is on par with several similar downtown buildings that are protected by the city, and they also claim that the building's proximity to Ground Zero makes it a historical landmark. Meanwhile, City Law Department spokeswoman Kate Ahlers said that the lawyers "were confident that the Landmarks Preservation Commission carefully applied all legal standards and followed appropriate procedures". Opponents of the proposed center, formerly known as the Cordoba House but now called Park51, believed that getting landmark protection was the final chance to stop construction. Opposition to the 13-story center, which backers say will promote interfaith understanding, has become a national issue. Earlier, Tea Party groups had held rallies calling the project an insult to the families of those who died on 9/11. Some opponents even claimed that it would be used to recruit Islamic extremists.

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