Peter Ferrara: The Proposed New York Mosque and the Constitution


ACRU Staff


August 5, 2010

ACRU General Counsel Peter Ferrara wrote this column appearing August 4, 2010 on

Muslim interests propose to build a 15 story mosque in Manhattan towering over the site of the 9/11 atrocity just 600 feet away. They would name the monument “Cordoba House.”

The original Great Mosque of Cordoba was built in the 10th century in Cordoba, Spain, the capital of the Muslim caliphate of al Andalus, ruling over the conquered Spaniards.

The Cordoba Mosque was the third largest mosque complex in the world at the time, built on the site of a former Christian church to commemorate the Muslim conquest of Spain.

This perpetuated a cultural Muslim practice of building mosques on the sites of historic conquests.

As Newt Gingrich has written, “every Islamist in the world recognizes Cordoba as a symbol of Muslim conquest.”

Given this background, many Americans object to the proposed mosque overlooking the 9/11 site.

They have been lectured by “liberals” arguing that construction of the proposed mosque is constitutionally protected by the First Amendment’s Freedom of Religion, and any government effort to stop it would be unconstitutional as a result.

New York Attorney General Mario Cuomo, who is also running for governor of New York, has taken this position, saying, “What are we all about if not religious freedom?”

Cuomo and the liberals are wrong.

Firmly settled constitutional doctrine provides that freedom of religion, like freedom of speech, is subject to time, place and manner regulation. No one is free to build a church anywhere they want.

If the authorities believe a particular location would be offensive to some segment of the public, the time, place and manner doctrine gives them the power to prevent construction of a church, or a mosque, at the offensive location.

The Constitution would not allow the government to prohibit any mosques, as Saudi Arabia prohibits any Christian churches or Jewish synagogues.

But New York City already offers more than 100 mosques, and more could be built anywhere else in the city.

As for this site, Gingrich has already rightly answered Cuomo in saying, “There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.

The time for double standards that allow Islamists to behave aggressively toward us while they demand our weakness and submission is over.”

Gingrich recognizes the battle we are in, adding, “America is experiencing an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization. Sadly, too many of our elites are the willing apologists for those who would destroy them if they could.”

Peter Ferrara is General Counsel of the American Civil Rights Union and Director of Entitlement and Budget Policy for the Institute for Policy Innovation. He formerly served under President Reagan in the White House Office of Policy Development, and under the first President Bush as Associate Deputy Attorney General of the United States.



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