Justice department sues Michigan city over denial of proposed mosque

Source: The Guardian

BY  in Detroit

The US Department of Justice is suing the city of Sterling Heights, Michigan, alleging it violated federal law in 2015 when it denied a proposal to build a mosque in the city.

The 20-page complaint filed in US district court says the city discriminated against the American Islamic Community Center (AICC) on the basis of religion, when it refused to approve a land use request for a proposed mosque.

The proposal, which drew consistent, visceral protests in the suburban Detroit community, was slated to cover five adjoining parcels of land in the city. In denying the request, the complaint alleges, Sterling Heights imposed a “substantial burden” on the center’s ability to exercise its religious freedom.

“The Constitution protects the rights of religious communities to create the institutions and physical spaces they need to observe and practice their faith free from discriminatory barriers,” said Vanita Gupta, principal deputy assistant attorney general and head of the DoJ’s civil rights division, in a statement.

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