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Current Page: Politics | Thursday, January 20, 2011
Court Denies Request to Block NYC Mosque Construction

Court Denies Request to Block NYC Mosque Construction

The New York Supreme Court denied a request Wednesday to block construction of the Islamic cultural center and mosque near Ground Zero.

Last week, the American Center for Law and Justice, which is representing 9/11 first responder Tim Brown in a lawsuit challenging the project, asked the state's high court to grant a temporary restraining order on demolition or construction at the proposed Park51 site.

In its filings, the group said it believed destruction of the building is imminent, citing two complaints of unauthorized work without proper permits at the mosque site.

But on Wednesday, the court rejected a motion for an injunction after an attorney representing Park51 developer Sharif El-Gamal told the judge that the project was facing "money issues" and that construction on the project was still "far away," according to ACLJ.

The hearing was held days after El-Gamal replaced Abdul Rauf, the imam who served as the public face of the project, with another imam, Abdallah Adhami.

Despite the court's rejection of the request Wednesday, an attorney with ACLJ indicated that the legal exchange was helpful in that it revealed problems in the project.

"This admission in open court is an important signal that this project is faltering and gives us additional time to pursue our legal challenge," attorney Brett Joshpe said in a statement.

The lawyer representing El-Gamal also asked the court to dismiss the case on grounds that Soho Properties is not the actual owner of the property at the mosque site.

But Josphe disputed the claim, pointing to testimonies given by El-Gamal and his representatives before the New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission in July that named Soho Properties as the owner of the property in question.

"This is merely an attempt to divert attention from the merits of the case," he stated.

Brown's lawsuit names the city's LPC, the New York City Department of Buildings, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the mosque's developers as the defendants.

The suit contends that LPC abused its discretion and acted arbitrarily in its deliberations last summer about whether to grant landmark status to the building at 45-47 Park Place. The landmark status would have made it difficult for developers to build the Islamic center and mosque at the site located two blocks from the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Project leaders have insisted that the Islamic center will promote tolerance, help improve Muslim-West relations, and serve as a platform for people of all backgrounds to come together.

ACLJ also alleges in the suit that Bloomberg and his office overstepped their legal boundaries in assisting the developers of the $100 million project. The group is seeking full disclosure of communications between Bloomberg's Office, the LPC, and the mosque developers.

The New York Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case on February 22.

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