Mosque Mess: U.S. Government Sues Minn. Town Over Mosque Rejection
You might think it strange that an organization wanting separation of church and state is fighting this battle, but it’s not strange in the least. Government should have neither the power to impose religion nor should the have the power to ban religion.
A Minnesota town is being sued by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for denying a zoning permit to a mosque.
Members of the Abu Huraira Islamic Center claim they were unconstitutionally denied the permit by the city of St. Anthony in 2012. On Wednesday, the DOJ agreed.
Speaking at a press conference about the suit, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lugar didn’t mince words.
“An injustice has been done,” Lugar announced. “I will not stand by while any religious group is subject to unconstitutional treatment that violates federal civil rights laws.”
He added, “Abu-Huraira’s right to hold prayer services in their building, in the city of St. Anthony, is the only resolution we seek. And we will not give up until we receive it.”
The lawsuit is the outcome of a federal investigation that spanned two years. As local NBC affiliate KARE 11 reports, the town’s rejection of the permit, which would have allowed construction of the mosque in a light industrial area, immediately followed a contentious public hearing. Local residents packed the meeting to express opposition to the plan, and their reasons didn’t exactly have much to do with the practicalities of urban planning.
Rather, they took aim at Islam itself. The vitriol hurled at the original public meeting has been well-recorded by local press, and likely formed the impetus for DOJ’s investigation and subsequent lawsuit.
“There is no other religion in the world that condones violence. Islam is evil,” said resident John Murlowski.
Added Rob Lundeen: “There are no pluses at all in letting this mosque into our city.”