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Sacred Land: The Functional and Symbolic Dimensions of the Ground Zero "Mosque" Controversy

The proposed construction of Park-51, an Islamic cultural center, near 9/11's Ground Zero ignited immediate controversy and triggered a number of spirited debates. Prominent public figures questioned whether the U.S.'s commitment to religious tolerance and cultural diversity should apply even in such sensitive contexts. In this debate, we ask: Do these disputes signal a so-called "clash of civilizations"? Are there circumstances that justify constitutional guarantees taking a backseat to the will of a given political community? Can the law provide an effective framework for resolving, or at least better understanding, the questions and controversies prompted by the Park-51 proposal?


Professor Robert C. Ellickson

Walter E. Meyer Professor of Property and Urban Law at Yale Law School and author of Land Use Controls

Professor Paul W. Kahn

Robert W. Winner Professor of Law and the Humanities at Yale Law School and author of Sacred Violence: Torture, Terror, and Sovereignty


  1. Mateo Taussig-Rubbo, "Sacred Property: Searching For Value in the Rubble of 9/11" from After Secular Law, Sullivan, Yelle and Taussig, eds., Stanford University Press, 2011 (forthcoming)
  2. Ashira Pelman Ostrow, Judicial Review of Local Land Use Decisions: Lessons from RLUIPA, 31 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 717 (Spring 2008)
  3. Paul Kahn, "Sacrificial Nation" (29 March 2010)