NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Developers of the so-called Ground Zero mosque are moving forward – and so are those who vehemently oppose its construction.
Lawyers for a firefighter who survived 9/11 are among those expected to head to court Wednesday to try to stop the proposal.
Developers for the Islamic center and mosque got their green light with a unanimous vote by the New York City Landmark’s Preservation Committee, but their opponents are not giving up.
In fact, the American Center for Law and Justice, founded by evangelical conservative Pat Robertson, plans to file a lawsuit in court Wednesday, hoping to at least stall the project.
The “Article 78 petition” will be filed on behalf of New York City firefighter Tim Brown and alleges a city commission abused its discretion by rushing its decision to refuse landmark status to the building currently on the site.
One New York resident told CBS 2’s Jay Dow that he hopes the lawsuit accomplishes at least one goal.
“I hope they tie them up for 10 years,” said Peter Kraig. “And then they’ll forget about it.”
Another New Yorker said that it doesn’t matter that he can’t prove a connection between the Islamic radicals that orchestrated 9/11 and the Muslims developing the proposed center – it still poses an unnecessary danger.
“Do I have the facts? No,” said Henry Muller of Queens. “Can I rule it out? Absolutely not. And I do believe quite a few people will agree with me on this…In my 51 years, my gut never failed me.”
But Mayor Bloomberg is urging his constituents to keep an open mind.
“We would be untrue to the best parts of ourselves and who we are as New Yorkers, as Americans,” he said, “If we say no to a mosque in lower Manhattan.”
In a letter to the Daily News, the proposed Islamic center’s developer, Sharif el-Gamal, insists his group will not accept support from anyone with anti-American views.
“Islam can be a mysterious thing,” he wrote. “We recognize that and know the best way to start a conversation is by extending a hand.”
El-Gamal said the next step for those behind the movement to build the center is to file for non-profit, federal tax exempt status.
Meanwhile, a firefighter who survived the 9/11 attacks join the latest group in trying to prevent the building of the mosque. He spoke to CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman.
“I believe this mosque will never be built,” said Tim Brown, the now retired firefighter. “I strongly believe that. The families will never allow this to happen.”
While Brown survived the collapse of the Twin Towers, but he lost 93 comrades that day, including his two best friends.
That’s why he filed a lawsuit against the Landmarks Commission vote, saying they overstepped their bounds.
And when he heard the Mayor’s statements about keeping an open mind about the mosque, he wasn’t pleased.
“If we were all living in Disneyland, then…what he was saying would be a wonderful thing.”
“If you’re tolerant of evil,” Brown said, “You’re in trouble.”