June 18th, 2012 15:46 EST
CAIR-MN Wants St. Anthony City Council to Approve Abu-Huraira Islamic Center
The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) has called on the St. Anthony City Council to send a strong message in defense of religious freedom by approving a conditional use permit for a new Islamic center.
In March, a week before the proposed Abu-Huraira Islamic Center was to go before the planning commission, the city issued a moratorium saying it needed more time to study the plan because of confusion over zoning ordinances.
The proposed Islamic center faces community opposition and facility organizers and their attorney believe discrimination is the real reason for the delay.
Last week, the city`s planning commission gave approval for the project.On June 12, the city council was to vote on a conditional use permit at 7 p.m. at the St. Anthony Council Chambers (3301 Silver Lake Road, St. Anthony, Minn.).
"The Muslim community is going through what many before us did to establish their right to worship," said CAIR-MN Executive Director Lori Saroya prior to the meeting. "This is about doing the right thing and upholding our nation`s principles of freedom of religion."
The U.S. Department of Justice has launched an investigation into 28 cases nationwide involving local denials of mosque construction applications.
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.
The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (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.
A number of recent reports have documented the growth and promotion of Islamophobia nationwide.
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.