(MINNEAPOLIS, MN, 6/21/13) – The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) today welcomed a decision by the Blaine City Council to approve a conditional use permit for a new Muslim Quran memorization school in that city. The city council voted 5-0 late Thursday night. A motion to postpone the vote had failed.
Some 200 supporters attended the meeting to support the Darul Arqam Center of Excellence, which was seeking a conditional use permit for a newly purchased Blaine property.
On June 11, 2013, the Blaine Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve Darul Arqamâ€™s proposal. Some 25 people attended the Blaine Planning Commission meeting to express their opposition to the school:
- Some neighbors in opposition to the project submitted a petition with 80 signatures from approximately 50 houses in the neighborhood. One speaker stated that only 3 houses did not sign the petition.
- Instead of calling it by its name or referring to it as a school in both the petition and Planning Commission meeting, the opposition referred to it as a “training center.”
- The opposition questioned where the organizationâ€™s funds are coming from:
- “I also am wondering … it concerns me that … they are offering this and targeting this for children, economically challenged families and a lot of their funding is donations. I don't know the ins and outs of how their organization is structured but I have some concerns about that, about how they are going to fund this.”
- Fear was rampant:
- “My wife's been just terrified that somebody is going to grab her child.”
- “I don't know who these people are but they have no business coming into the end of my block. Obviously, I just found out two days ago that there is a Muslim community that wants to teach Muslim to their people and they say they're not going to be a â€˜religious organization.â€™ It is a religious organization, it's a church. That' my personal feelings.”
- “We don't want them in our community.”
This is the fifth land use opposition case involving Muslims in Minnesota within the past two years.
“We thank Blaine city leaders for ensuring that all residents are treated fairly and for turning this into a teachable moment on the history of religious freedom in America,” said CAIR-MN Executive Director Lori Saroya. “Blaine is an example of how cities facing hostile opposition issues can get it right and bring together the community in the process.”
Saroya also thanked members of the interfaith community for their support to the Muslim community and commitment to religious freedom. She said Blaine Muslims are planning to organize more outreach and educational activities with their neighbors and elected officials to continue positive dialogue and build bridges.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, email@example.com