Justice Dept. Sues Minnesota Village over Refusal to Allow Islamic Center

Saturday, August 30, 2014
St. Anthony Village City Council

Federal prosecutors are going after leaders of a Minnesota community for unlawfully denying local Muslims the right to establish their own religious center.


The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the state has filed a lawsuit against the city of St. Anthony Village for violating the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000.


City officials voted 4-1 in 2012 to prevent the Abu Huraira Islamic Center from using the basement of the St. Anthony Business Center as a worship space while reserving other areas for business, rejecting a recommendation made by the city’s planning commission. The Center was founded by immigrants from Somalia.


The city claims the rejection is only because of zoning issues, saying religious and assembly uses are not allowed. However, the city has granted exceptions in that area for churches and a union hall in the past, with the city even hosting events at the union hall.


The Department of Justice tried to resolve the issue without resorting to litigation, according to U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger.


“We aggressively sought to resolve this matter without a lawsuit. However, it is a solemn duty of all United States Attorneys to uphold the Constitution. The people of Abu Huraira have a right to peaceably assemble – they have a right to practice their religion, and it’s our job to enforce that right,” Luger said in a press release.


Acting Assistant Attorney General Molly Moran added: ‘Religious freedom is one of our most cherished rights, and there are few aspects of that right more central than the ability of communities to establish places for collective worship.”


The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the lawsuit represents the first time federal prosecutors have sued a Minnesota city for breaking the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Justice Department Files Suit Against City of St. Anthony Village Over Denial of Permit for Mosque (U.S. Department of Justice)

Feds Sue City of St. Anthony over Rejection of Islamic Center (by Shannon Prather and Randy Furst, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Tennessee County Continues to Oppose Allowing Muslims to Worship at New Mosque Despite Court Ruling (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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