Feds sue Sterling Heights for refusing to build mosque

The U.S. Justice Department is going after the city of Sterling Heights saying in a 20 page complaint, that their reasons for rejecting a mosque were unconstitutional.

Several years ago the American Islamic Community Center began making plans to build the mosque on 15 Mile near Mound.  But the city's planning commission voted 9-0 to reject plan in the summer of 2015. Since then, the AICC has also filed a lawsuit.

"The hatred I felt walking out of that meeting was unbelievable," said Khalil Abbass, American Islamic Community Center.

The rejection, was supported by the mayor and celebrated by a crowd.

"That created a lot of hard feelings," said Osama Siblani, publisher of the Arab-American News. "Not only in Sterling Heights, but it spread all over the community."

Siblani said he has been watching the issue closely.

"For people to reject a mosque to be built there, is a discriminatory act," he said. "And I think the department of Justice will step in and win this case."

The city, however, is standing firm, releasing in a statement:

"The City has cooperated fully with the Department of Justice in this matter, and is surprised and disappointed in its decision to initiate this lawsuit at this time."

The City maintains that the AICC application for special approval land use to construct a mosque was considered and denied by the City's Planning Commission based on established land use criteria including the incompatibility with adjoining uses, insufficient parking, as well as overall size and height of the building, and not emotional feelings tied to religious beliefs either for or against the applicant. "

They also say, they already have two mosques in the city.

Now it will be up to the courts decide if the reasons the city gave for rejection were justified, or, an anti-Muslim bias. FOX 2 will keep you updated as this story develops.

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