Yesterday, the relevant community board okayed Cordoba House, the Islamic center and mosque planned for a lower Manhattan site two blocks from Ground Zero. Specifically, Community Board 1 recommended, by a 24-11 vote, that the building not be given landmark status (its vote is nonbinding). This is what Cordoba House advocates wanted. (Earlier this month, Tablet Magazine’s Mark Bergen reported on a heated Landmarks Preservation Commission meeting; the LPC will make the final decision.)
The mosque became a statewide issue when New York gubernatorial candidates started talking about it, and then a national issue when the Tea Party (which opposes the mosque) caught on, and then an even bigger national issue when Sarah Palin made her famous Tweets against it and Newt Gingrich specified exactly where he would and would not be okay with a mosque being built in New York City (a city whose Jewish mayor, and borough whose Jewish president, both support the project).
By the way: The project is invariably described as a mosque, and while that’s not technically false, it is somewhat misleading. As planned, Cordoba House will be an “Islamic center” in much the same way that a Jewish Community Center is a “Jewish center”—in fact, Cordoba House is explicitly modeled after JCCs. “There will be a mosque component, which will be a separate not-for-profit component of the project,” backer Sharif El-Gamal told The Jerusalem Post. “It’s going to be a small component in a community center, just like the 92nd Street Y has a synagogue.”
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.