The mosque exclusion zone defined

Park51 foes draw the boundaries for where Muslims can and cannot pray in lower Manhattan

By Justin Elliott
August 27, 2010 10:23PM (UTC)
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FILE - In this file photo of Thursday, May 6, 2010, traffic passes a building in lower Manhattan that once housed a Burlington Coat Factory store, in New York. A 13-story mosque and Islamic cultural center is planned to replace the building that was damaged by airplane debris on Sept. 11, 2001. Now officials say the mosque will need the approval of the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission. A decades-old proposal to designate the building that would be torn down to make room for the planned mosque as historic must be put to a vote, an official says. Separately, a community board vote is planned Tuesday, May 25, 2010, on whether to support the plan for a mosque and Islamic cultural center. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) (AP)

Nothing lays bare the fabricated core of the "ground zero mosque" story so much as the question of the mosque exclusion zone: that is, how far away from ground zero would opponents of the project be OK with an Islamic community center?

Chris Moody has an entertaining story at the Daily Caller asking various politicians and anti-Muslim activists where exactly they would draw the boundary lines. There's also the question of whether to move the existing mosque that is four blocks away from ground zero (compared to the two-and-a-half block distance of the Park51 site). And there's also the fact that the actual ground zero site is being redeveloped, with godless media giant Conde Nast recently inking a deal to move its headquarters to the office tower that's supposed to go up at ground zero.


But back to the mosque exlcusion zone.

Evangelical leader Richard Land throws out an actual number of blocks:

“My guess is two or three blocks further away,” Land said. “Something that would not be within eyesight if it weren’t for intervening buildings or that you couldn’t hit with a rock from Ground Zero.”

While Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, creatively recasts the issue in terms of an ill-defined "zone of solemnity":

“I do believe that there are special places on Earth that should have a zone of solemnity around them,” he said last week. “I would strongly urge those who are thinking of putting a mosque within that zone to rethink their position.”

And finally, anti-Islam activist Robert Spencer just gets angry:


“I’m not going to give you an address. There is no way I could possibly do that or anybody could do that,” he replied when asked during a phone interview. “…You’re trying to trap me and I know it. You want to play the game? I know how to play this game. I’ve been doing this for many years, alright? I’ve talked to lots of reporters, I know the games you play. I ain’t playing. You’re trying to get me to give you an address and say ‘oh, if it’s one block over or one building over then it’s okay with Spencer, but one building over here, no then it’s a triumphal mosque.’ Well I’m not playing.”

The whole piece is a good read.


Justin Elliott

Justin Elliott is a reporter for ProPublica. You can follow him on Twitter @ElliottJustin

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