IQNA

Legal Battle Continues As First Mosque Opens in Michigan City  

11:12 - September 18, 2022
News ID: 3480522
TEHRAN (IQNA) – Members of a mosque and elected officials in Troy, a northern suburb of Metro Detroit in the US state of Michigan,  met Saturday afternoon for a ribbon cutting at the Adam Community Center.

First Mosque Opens in Troy, Michigan

 

However, a federal lawsuit between the parties remains unsettled after a four-year legal battle.

The building, on Rochester Road about three-quarters of a mile south of Wattles Road, is the first mosque to be built in Troy.

Amy Doukoure, staff attorney for CAIR-MI, said on Saturday, lawsuits by her organization and the Justice Department remain open and the two sides continue to disagree over monetary damages.

"We were able to get a certificate of occupancy," Doukoure said. "They can use it as is as a place of worship and banquet hall. There are bigger plans in the future to create a more comprehensive community center."

Recent renovations were completed in July, Doukoure said.

The center is seeking $1.9 million in monetary damages, she said, including legal fees, lost donations and lost equity in the property.

"We are asking for actual damages and we are entitled to damages because they violated a Constitutional right and when a government entity does this they have to pay damages," Doukoure said.

In 2018, the nonprofit center sued the Troy city council, planning commission and members of the zoning board of appeals after trying unsuccessfully to build the community center in the city, which at the time had approximately 53 places of worship within its 33.6-square-mile border but not one for Muslims, according to the Michigan chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Troy in 2019, arguing Troy violated federal law for religious land use when it denied zoning approval for a mosque. CAIR-MI also sued in 2018.

In March, U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds cleared the way for the mosque to be built. Edmunds said the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act is intended to protect organizations like the Adam Community Center from discrimination in zoning laws that "lurks behind such vague and universally applicable reasons as traffic, aesthetics, or ‘not consistent with the city’s land use plan.’”

Edmunds added, "Troy argues that Adam was not discriminated against based on its Muslim faith, but otherwise makes no effort to rebut the Government’s case by asserting a compelling interest or disputing that it had less restrictive means."

Edmunds also prohibited the city or its officials from treating places of worship differently than it does other groups under its zoning rules.

Troy Mayor Ethan Baker and city officials as well as officials with the Adam Community Center, which has about 150 members, are set to attend the opening ceremony at 5 p.m..

Baker said on Saturday that the city has never been opposed to having a mosque or any other place of worship in the city. Rather it was concerned about safety issues on the property and work being done without permits.

"Despite the legal actions still pending I feel it is very important be there to celebrate this opening with them," Baker said on Saturday before the ceremony.

"I feel it’s important to state the legal issues surrounding the mosque had nothing to do with the people and the religion but the public safety issues," he said.

 

Source: detroitnews.com

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