US & Canada

Attempt to block 'Ground Zero mosque' fails

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Media captionNew Yorkers react to the commission's ruling

An attempt to stop a plan for a mosque near New York's Ground Zero has failed after the site was denied landmark status.

The scheme for a 13-storey Islamic cultural centre and mosque several hundred feet away from the site of the Twin Towers has drawn criticism.

Opponents had hoped the Landmarks Preservation Commission would protect the building.

Some relatives of 9/11 victims are against the building of a mosque.

Sarah Palin and other prominent Republicans have attacked the mosque plan, but New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said Muslim religious freedom must be respected.

The commission's vote was on the architectural merits of the disused coat factory that is to be redeveloped.

But it was always thought unlikely that it would be declared a landmark.

The backers of the Cordoba House cultural centre believe it will become a symbol of good inter-faith relations.

But the opponents say it is tasteless to have a mosque so near to a site where Islamist extremists killed thousands.

Former US House of Representatives speaker Newt Gingrich dubbed it an "act of triumphalism".

Former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin wrote that "to build a mosque at Ground Zero is a stab in the heart of the families of the innocent victims of those horrific attacks".

The building is already being used as a makeshift mosque.

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