WASHINGTON, May 29, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to protect the religious rights of Tennessee Muslims after a judge in that state blocked completion of a mosque that has been targeted by anti-Muslim bigots for the past two years.
The judge ruled today that proper public notice was not given for the May 2010 meeting that approved the site plan for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, near Murfreesboro, Tenn. He seemed to base his ruling on the fact that anti-Muslim bigots were able to manufacture a controversy over the construction of the mosque, the site of which has been the target of hate vandalism.
AP: Murfreesboro Mosque Construction Stops After Judge’s Ruling
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In his ruling, the judge used phrases and reasoning which could be viewed as indicating that a higher degree of public notice is required for issues related to Tennessee Muslims.
For example, the judge used language such as:
- “Given the significance of the matters decided and the overall general interest of the community as a whole.”
- “Given the amount of publicity which the issue has generated after the meeting.”
- “[A] meeting where an issue of major importance to citizens was being discussed.”
- “[G]iven the magnitude of the matters.”
- “[A] matter which is to [the public] of earthshaking importance.”
Read the entire ruling:
In his ruling, the judge did say the Rutherford County Planning Commission could approve the mosque site plan again.
“American Muslim constitutional rights should not be diminished merely because anti-Muslim bigots are able to manufacture a controversy about what would otherwise be normal religious activities,” said CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas. “If the Rutherford County Planning Commission does not immediately issue new permits for the mosque, we urge the Department of Justice to intervene in this case to support the religious rights of Tennessee Muslims.”
He said the ruling would be similar to a judge in the 1950s blocking construction of an African-American church in a White neighborhood because of the “controversy” created by racists.
“The judge’s ruling is apparently based on a fictitious ‘heightened standard’ for public notice when Muslims are involved,” said Abbas.
[NOTE: In 2010, the DOJ was compelled to argue the basic premise that Islam is a religion in the lawsuit targeting construction of the Murfreesboro mosque.]
Abbas noted that an article published this morning in USA Today noted the growing opposition to mosques nationwide.
In that article, “Kevin Vodak, litigation director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says a 2000 federal law meant to prevent zoning laws from discriminating against religious institutions is a potent tool. He cited the law — the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act — in a pending federal lawsuit against DuPage County, Ill., for ‘unlawful conduct and discriminatory practices’ when it denied a permit for the Irshad Learning Center in 2010.”
CAIR: Proposed Mosques Spark Opposition Nationwide (USA Today)
SEE ALSO: Hearing in Oregon Mosque Firebombing Case
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.