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Islamic group sues Des Plaines for rejecting planned mosque

19 September 2013 General 13 Comments Email This Post Email This Post
Ahmed Rehab

Ahmed Rehab

Another federal court battle is brewing over a northwest suburb’s refusal this summer to let a 160-member Islamic group open a mosque in a vacant building in an industrial area.

The lawsuit filed Monday against Des Plaines and five of its aldermen is the latest to take on a “knee-jerk reaction to something Islamic or Muslim,” said Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Chicago.

His group helped win a $445,000 settlement from DuPage County in a similar case earlier this year. Now, it’s backing the case brought by the American Islamic Center and its attorney, Tony Peraica.

“We believe this was done for discriminatory reasons,” Peraica said.

Des Plaines officials either declined to comment Monday or failed to return calls from the Sun-Times.

Nearly all of the American Islamic Center’s members are Bosnian refugees from the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to its lawsuit. It said it entered a contract in February to buy an empty office building on 1.8 acres of land at 1645 Birchwood Ave., for religious and educational activities.

Those activities included prayer services on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, and meetings for youth and women’s groups, according to the lawsuit.

Three traffic studies were done in June, the lawsuit said, all of which found Birchwood Avenue carries a low volume of traffic and could handle the new mosque. Des Plaines’ plan commission also recommended unanimously a zoning change in June that would let the group move forward with its plans, according to the lawsuit.

But the Des Plaines City Council voted 5-3 against the change on July 15.

The majority of the public comment that night was favorable toward the mosque, according to city council minutes found online. Nevertheless, aldermen James Brookman, Michael Charewicz, Patricia Haugeberg, Dick Sayad and Mark Walsten all voted no. Those aldermen also voted for a resolution again denying the zoning change Aug. 5.

All five are named in the lawsuit.

Now, the American Islamic Center says the current owner of the Birchwood property has terminated the contract and plans to turn the parcel into a parking lot.

“I can’t tell you enough how much they are disappointed,” Imam Senad Agic said of his Islamic group’s members. “How much they are upset and how much they feel humiliated by this stubborn decision of the City Council of Des Plaines.”

DuPage County announced in June it had reached a $445,000 settlement with the Irshad Learning Center, a group that sought a permit for an Islamic center just east of Naperville in the western suburbs.

The DuPage County Board voted in 2010 to deny that permit after neighbors complained it would hurt property values and increase traffic. But the group sued and U.S. Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer ruled in March the permit was improperly denied.

Kevin Vodak, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Chicago, represented the Irshad Learning Center in that case, and he’s co-counsel for the American Islamic Center in its case against Des Plaines.

Rehab said both cases fit a pattern seen across the country.

“When it comes to mosques, there always seems to be this first reaction to deny,” Rehab said.

Email: jseidel@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SeidelContent

Original post: Islamic group sues Des Plaines for rejecting planned mosque

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13 Comments »

  1. that’s just wrong.

  2. I attended a similar hearing in San Jose. Some objections can be legitimate — is there an adequate water supply and parking for the facility? Some objections are a pretense — the objections would never have been raised against a new church of the same size. And some of the objectors just come out and say they don’t want a Muslim facility in the area.

  3. I think they forgot this is America…

  4. Lol @Brad.

  5. SubhanAllah. Since when is it okay for elected officials to ignore the wishes of their constituents and vote based on their own agendas instead? I know that it happens, but this is quite blatant. I hope those five councilmen get a lot of angry letters and phone calls from all the people in their districts who supported the planned mosque. There was no legitimate reason to deny a permit for this mosque – they’d done their homework and made sure the area could handle additional traffic and had sufficient parking, which are usually the primary reasons people say they don’t want a mosque in an area.

  6. Mosques are breading grounds for terrorism and western hate. Pigs blood be upon them…

  7. America is a Christian country, period. Mosques do not belong in America. For all you say about how peaceful you are, there are too many incidents of “peaceful” muslims suddenly turned homicide bomber. It’s enough, in God’s name, leave our Country.

  8. Ahmed Rehab is an anti-American, Muslim Brotherhood supporting bitch who does nothing but play the Muslim victim card at every turn. Fuck you, Ahmed…bitch.

  9. Going to build me a church (or maybe a Hindu temple) in Iran,Yemen or Saudi Arabia.What are my chances ?

  10. Perhaps an Islamic country where you would be welcomed.

  11. We don’t want you muzzies in il. You may have these blind libtards fooled with your b.s. lies and early quotes from the book of hate you follow. If stupid people actually read your sick book they would be mortified by what they read. They would see your told to lie to the infidels. Religion of peace my ass. WAKE UP AND READ THE BOOK U BLIND IDIOTS…..

  12. Heather Swindell you are a traitor to this country and should never had been let into the military!! Go back to afganiland and see how long you last. Being there should have shown you the true islam.

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