SOUTHFIELD, Mich., July 26 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) has asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate whether local planning officials in that state are violating the religious rights of Muslims by denying a permit to build a school on property they own.
On June 16, the Michigan Islamic Academy (MIA) went before the Pittsfield Township Planning Commission for land usage approval on a newly-purchased property to be used for educational and religious purposes. The planning commission voted on a preliminary procedural motion to deny MIA's request after concerns of disruption of neighborhood harmony were raised and derogatory comments were made about the religious practices of Muslims. (A final vote will be taken at a commission meeting on August 4.)
SEE: Civil Rights Groups Asks Feds to Monitor Pittsfield Decision on Muslim School (Detroit News)
In a letter sent yesterday to the DOJ, CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid stated in part:
"In a number of instances across the nation, including the controversial Murfreesboro mosque case in Tennessee, organized anti-Muslim activists raise concerns such as traffic issues and neighborhood harmony with planning commissions and zoning boards to provide legal cover for denial of zoning for mosques and Islamic schools based upon prejudice. Our assessment is that this particular case is similar to such cases."
SEE: Letter to Department of Justice (DOJ)
"We ask the Department of Justice to monitor the upcoming vote of the Pittsfield Township Planning Commission and to probe the motion of denial of the Michigan Islamic Academy's land usage request as a potential violation of federal law," said Walid.
He noted that the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) prohibits local governments from imposing restrictions on land usage of religious institutions unless the governments provide compelling reasons for the restrictions.
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-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid, 248-842-1418, E-Mail: [email protected]; CAIR-MI Staff Attorney Lena Masri, 248-390-9784, E-Mail: [email protected]; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, E-Mail: [email protected]; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail: [email protected]
SOURCE Council on American-Islamic Relations