The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against the City of Sterling Heights claiming the Detroit suburb was biased against Muslims when it shot down a plan to build a mosque there last year.
The Justice Department claims in the lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Detroit that Sterling Heights officials catered to the fears and views of anti-Muslim residents who showed up at public meetings and expressed views of all sorts in opposition to the mosque.
One person said “Remember 9/11,” according to the lawsuit, while another held up a picture of a woman wearing a head covering and said he didn’t want to “be near people like this” and a third person asked Homeland Security to screen the group that wanted the mosque, saying “they’re cutting people’s heads off; they kill our soldiers.”
Muslims in Sterling Heights are literally threatening to cut off peoples heads: Muslim threatens to “sever the heads” of two judges or trying to via honor killing: Muslim killed, almost beheaded, wife.
And it wasn’t just residents who made such comments, the federal government claims, but elected officials did, too. According to the lawsuit, Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor once asked whether the mosque could appear “less Middle Eastern” and more “generic.”
That’s exactly what “zoning” is intended to do but Muslims who wage the zoning jihad have no interest in American laws or regulations.
The Justice Department lawsuit comes four months after the American Islamic Community Center filed its own lawsuit against the city, alleging Sterling Heights unlawfully denied the AICC an application for a special land use to build a mosque on 15 Mile between Ryan and Mound roads.
Both lawsuits accuse Sterling Heights of violating the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act — a 16-year-old law that prohibits the government from engaging in religious discrimination when making land use decisions.
At issue is a 9-0 vote by the Sterling Heights Planning Commission last year to reject building the mosque. City officials and residents have said their rejection was not based on bigotry, noting that the city already has a mosque, but over concerns that the location was not suitable for such a large building and could cause traffic problems.
“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 of Sterling Heights said in a statement.
According to the statement, the AICC’s land use request to build a mosque was denied by the 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.”
“The City welcomes the AICC along with any other religious groups, to Sterling Heights and we will continue an open dialog to address areas of disagreement with respect to land use,” the statement read.
City officials also defended the reputation of Sterling Heights as a city that welcomes and embraces diversity and inclusiveness, noting its diverse population represents ” a wide variety of cultures, ethnicities and race.”
“Sterling Heights has a solid reputation for inclusiveness and tolerance reflected in a wide variety of places of worship across the City, including two existing Mosques, a Sikh Temple, a Buddhist Temple, Christian churches of various denominations and a BAPS ShriSwaminarayan Mandi,” the city said in a statement. ” Sterling Heights is a community that has and continues to welcome diversity through many programs and events.”
As we noted here, Sterling Heights has a large population of Iraqi immigrants who opposed the special zoning request for a mosque in a residential neighborhood.
More posts on the Islamization of Sterling Heights in the Creeping Sharia archives here.