IQNA

Mississippi City Ordered to Approve Mosque

10:22 - January 05, 2022
News ID: 3477236
TEHRAN (IQNA) – A US district judge ordered that the City of Horn Lake in the state of Mississippi must grant approval for the site plan for a mosque located in the city in no more than 14 days.

Mississippi mosque

 

The city and its board of aldermen must then "consider, process and act upon—without any unusual delay and free from any illegal discriminatory intent or effect—all future construction, permitting, and other applications associated with the construction and operation of the Abraham House of God," according to the consent decree filed in court Monday night.

The ruling comes after the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Mississippi and New York City-based Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP. sued the City of Horn Lake, alleging that the city and its board of aldermen discriminated against two Muslim men on the basis of religion in denying approval for the Abraham House of God mosque. The complaint also targeted Mayor Allen Latimer.  

Latimer said he was unable to comment on the decree.

Joshua Tom, ACLU of Mississippi Legal Director, said in a written statement that "A wrong has been rectified with this order."

"People of every faith should have a safe place to worship, including the Muslim community of Desoto County,” Tom said.

The order filed Monday provides that the defendants will pay the plaintiffs $25,000 for expenses incurred in appealing the denial of the mosque-site application and pay for attorneys’ fees and costs associated with the federal lawsuit. The federal district court will have continuing jurisdiction over the action for a period of five years to facilitate the enforcement of the consent decree.

“We are heartened and relieved that we are able to move ahead with our plans for a mosque in Horn Lake, which will provide a critical local house of worship for my family and other Muslims in the community to gather and practice our faith freely and without discrimination,” said Riyadh Elkhayyat (also known as Ray Elk), one of the plaintiffs and co-founder of the Abraham House of God, in a written statement.

In April, Horn Lake's board of aldermen voted 5-1 to uphold the city’s planning commission’s decision to deny approval of the site plan.

The denial was made even though the mosque site plan met or exceeded all requirements to be built and although the piece of property was zoned for a house of worship.

The Court, the judge wrote in his consent decree, entered a ruling stating that after reviewing the allegations of the complaint, "its initial impression is that it presents very serious, and if proven factually accurate, strong allegations of religious discrimination."

The parties consented to the decree "in the interest of avoiding costly and protracted litigation," according to the decree.

“We look forward to having the opportunity to join the wonderful fabric of the Horn Lake religious community and are thankful to the court for facilitating this resolution that addresses everything we had hoped to achieve," said Maher Abuirshaid, one of the plaintiffs and co-founders of the Abraham House of God, in a written statement.

 

Source: commercialappeal.com

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