Lawsuit filed after mosque development denied in Sterling Heights

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Crowds cheered when Sterling Heights shot down plans for a new mosque last August.

At the time opponents said they rejected the mosque over traffic concerns. But civil rights activists believe people just didn't want a Muslim house of worship in their neighborhood. So, they spent the last year fighting the decision.

The planning commission voted 9-0 not to have it built along 15 Mile near Mound and many residents voiced concerns of property value declining and heavy traffic. But those who were denied are calling it discrimination.

"The hatred I felt walking out of that meeting was unbelievable," said Khalil Abbass. "I've never felt anything like that before. My niece had her scarf pulled down as she was walking out. People were saying hateful things. It wasn't that they didn't want it built in that site, it was more hate that it was being built there."

Therefore, a lawsuit has been filed, permitting the Muslim mosque to be built.

"My clients will be able to demonstrate," said attorney Azzam Elder. "They have been searching along with the help of the city planner for almost three years to find a location for their mosque. This site was finally approved by the city planner. They have been very patient."

Khalil Abbass served in the Air Force, and his grandfather was also a military veteran.

"When I served in the military, I got along with everybody, everybody knew I was Muslim," Abbass said. "I served next to a Jewish guy, and a Christian guy and a Catholic guy. It didn't matter.

"Then you come out here and you see this, it's just unbelievable. I don't like the way it happened."

Right now, the city is not making any comment saying they need more time to look over the lawsuit.