A Manhattan judge has thrown out a lawsuit from a retired firefighter who sued to block construction on the proposed Park51 Islamic Center near Ground Zero, but the conservative group that represented him says it will appeal the decision.
The New York Times reported that Justice Paul G. Feinman of the State Supreme Court in Manhattan ruled on Friday that retired firefighter Timothy Brown is “an individual with a strong interest in preservation of the building,” but lacks legal standing to challenge construction of the Islamic Center.
The American Center for Law and Justice and Brown filed in January for an injunction against the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s decision to not to grant the building landmark status, which would have stopped the center from being built.
Brown and the ACLJ suggested in court filings that the Commissions decision may have been influenced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who supported the construction. An attorney for the city called this “a conspiracy theory,” the Times reports.
On Monday the ACLJ said in a press release that it intends to appeal. “This decision fails to give appropriate consideration to first responders and others who risked their lives and lost loved ones on September 11th,” the statement said. “If Mr. Brown does not have standing, then who does? We intend to appeal this decision and remain confident that this mosque will never rise above Ground Zero.”
Park51, dubbed the “Ground Zero Mosque” by its critics, was the center of a huge controversy last summer, with some opponents even going so far as to accuse the people behind the project of being terrorist sympathizers bent on building a shrine to the Islamic extremists behind the September 11th attacks.
Anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller, one of the most vocal critics of the project, called the decision “another nod for the Islamic supremacists who seek to desecrate the sacred ground of Ground Zero with a 15-story mega-mosque in a building destroyed in the 911 attacks.”
She intends to hold another rally against Park51 on September 11th of this year. Last year’s protest drew around 1,500 people, though that was when the fervor over the project was at its highest.