(MINNEAPOLIS, MN, 6/13/12) — The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) today called on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate allegations of anti-Muslim bias in the rejection of a proposed Islamic center in St. Anthony, Minn.
Last night, the St. Anthony City Council voted 4-1 to deny a conditional use permit for the Abu-Huraira Islamic Center, despite a recommendation by the St. Anthony Planning Commission to approve the project. The project had been on hold since a March moratorium by the council.
At yesterday’s council meeting, the proposed Islamic center faced opposition from an intolerant speakers who — Islamic center proponents assert — clearly exposed the real reason for the approval delay and rejection.
Several residents made anti-Muslim comments at the city council hearing, including: “There is no other religion in the world that condones violence. Islam is evil,” and, “Where did you come from? [Go] change your own country.”
Video: CAIR-MN Will Ask DOJ to Probe Rejection of Mosque Plan
Video: Anti-Muslim Comments Mar Vote to Reject Islamic Center (CAIR-MN)
CAIR-MN: City Council Rejects Islamic Center Plan (Star Tribune)
In a response to the city council’s rejection of the Islamic center, CAIR-MN sent a letter to the DOJ seeking a federal investigation.
CAIR-MN is asking federal authorities to determine whether the denial of land usage for the Islamic center constitutes a violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).
RLUIPA protects religious institutions from unduly burdensome or discriminatory land use regulations. RLUIPA and the Minnesota Constitution ban zoning restrictions that impose a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person or institution unless the government can show that it has a compelling interest for imposing zoning restrictions and that the restriction is the least restrictive way for the government to further that interest.
“We ask the DOJ to use the full measure of its authority to launch a thorough investigation into the recent denial of the proposed Abu-Huraira Islamic Center,” wrote CAIR-MN Executive Director Lori Saroya in her letter to Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.
Saroya said CAIR-MN is also asking DOJ officials to meet with St. Anthony Muslim leaders.
Yesterday, CAIR’s Michigan chapter called on the FBI to investigate a possible bias motive for a fire and hate graffiti targeting a building associated with a Dearborn mosque.
Video: FBI Probes Fire at Building Linked to Mich. Mosque (CAIR)
CAIR-MI Asks FBI to Probe Possible Hate Crime (Detroit News)
CAIR: FBI Probing Fire, Anti-Arab Graffiti Near Mosque (Free Press)
Also yesterday, opponents of a Virginia mosque expressed anti-Muslim comments at a public hearing.
SEE: Anti-Muslim Comments at Hearing on Va. Mosque (Times-Disp)
The DOJ has launched an investigation into 28 cases nationwide involving local denials of mosque construction applications.
SEE: Denial of Mosque Applications Spark Federal Government Investigations
One of the most controversial anti-mosque efforts nationwide involves a campaign by Islamophobes to block construction of a new Islamic Center in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
SEE: Tenn. Judge Blocks Occupancy Certificate for New Mosque
CAIR: Hold Rutherford Mosque Hearing. Shut Up Haters. Move On.
A number of recent reports have documented the growth and promotion of Islamophobia nationwide.
CAIR: Same Hate, New Target
Center for American Progress: Fear, Inc.
Southern Poverty Law Center: Jihad Against Islam
People for the American Way: The Right-Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR-MN Executive Director Lori Saroya, 612-327-6700, email: email@example.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, email: firstname.lastname@example.org