The Department of Justice is Privileging Mosques

Source: The Department of Justice is Privileging Mosques

By Karen Lugo

The Department of Justice has become an advocate for the establishment of mosques in America. It is as if there were some congressional affirmative action mandate. The DOJ’s own statistics reveal a sharp escalation in intervention efforts on behalf of Islamic complainants, mostly involving mosque disputes with local zoning authorities.  Alarmingly, these interventions reveal a pattern of generous settlements that benefit mosques while bypassing municipal laws and disregarding legitimate neighborhood concerns.

During the Obama Presidency, DOJ lawyers ran roughshod over local officials, as long as the complaining party was a mosque.  Trump’s Justice Department must reverse these tendencies.

The atmosphere of DOJ intimidation cannot be overstated. Negotiated settlements between the DOJ, local zoning authorities, and mosque officials take place against a backdrop of DOJ threatening long, prohibitively costly litigation. The drive for ever more concessions, and more cash, confronts communities whose small governments cannot compete with DOJ’s $28 billion budget and legions of lawyers. Importantly, DOJ treats these settlements as if they were precedents even though, by sidestepping the courts, the settlements bypass judicial precedents that could protect legitimate community interests.

In two recent cases, mosque applicants in Sterling Heights (Michigan) and Basking Ridge (New Jersey), received cash settlements because they were denied permits according to local zoning procedures. These settlements failed to protect vital neighborhood interests in traffic safety, parking limits, and livability concerns.

Just one example of neighborhood hardships that result from deferential permit agreements, the Dar al Farooq mosque in Bloomington, Minnesota is currently holding services for the entire month of Ramadan with overflow parking and lighted lots until 1:00 and 3:00 a.m.—in a residential neighborhood.

The Sterling Heights settlement is illustrative of abusive DOJ meddling.

The mosque had applied to build a 28,000 square foot facility on 4.35 acres of land. The building’s dome was to be 58 feet high and the minarets 66 feet high. The surrounding neighborhood has been settled by many Chaldean Christians who fled Iraq and Islamist oppression. An imposing Islamic structure was not met with enthusiasm to put it mildly. But federal law focuses on whether the decision-makers are biased. It demands that local government officials give all sides equal consideration. It does not require that neighborhood residents greet this kind of application with enthusiasm.

In this case, there were many legitimate concerns that the local planning commission investigated, concerns that contributed to the unanimous conclusion that the mosque was ineligible for the indicated property. Indeed, the major disputes arose because mosque representatives provided incomplete information and they were unwilling to address zoning concerns.

But why would they negotiate when they know DOJ is their ace in the hole, ready to presume the assertion of legitimate community interests is a pretext for anti-Muslim bias? The strategy of making a bee-line to DOJ rather than working in good faith to address community zoning concerns proved successful. The DOJ-administered settlement disregarded dire traffic congestion, including a nearby intersection listed in the highest accident category. It ignored glaring parking issues, a massively imposing structure for the size of the lot, and vast undesignated square footage.

The settlement bypassed local ordinances and state law, allowing the mosque virtually unlimited activity, provided that arrangements for a shuttle and overflow parking lot were merely attempted. The height of the dome and minarets were left essentially unchanged. No answers were provided to show how, and when, 25,000 square feet of the building would be utilized.

The terms of this settlement were so egregious that the American Freedom Law Center has filed a lawsuit challenging the disregard for neighborhood residents, local zoning authority, and state law.

Announced in late May, the Basking Ridge settlement was also a blow to community members. Residents organized early to defend the residential and historic character of a neighborhood called Liberty Corner. Again, it should not have been surprising that a religious land use application would be met with controversy. And, again, the applicants equated frustrations on the part of the community with anti-Islamic bias on the part of the decision-making officials.

The years-long series of hearings and deliberations were contentious. They reflected recalcitrance on the part of the applicant and a problematic search for solutions on the part of township officials. The final settlement required the community to pay $3.25 million. It made minimal provision for 50 parking spaces and an additional allocation of at least ten non-paved parking spots. Inevitably, the residential lot will have overflow parking in all areas that are not clearly designated otherwise.

In flagrant violation of free speech principles, moreover, residents are prohibited from uttering comments about “Islam” or “Muslims” at the final local hearing. Most offensive to the township, the settlement arrogantly included a rewrite of local zoning law. Its terms coerce the community to permit religious worship sites in institutional, commercial and residential zones on the same conditions as other assembly uses—comparable to even clubs and day care facilities.

Concerns of local residents were deemed out-of-bounds and even banned from discussion during the hearings.

Of critical importance, these DOJ settlements are used to punish cities in an accusatory and invasive fashion. The agreements typically require that cities submit to intensive DOJ monitoring for five years. Reports must be filed every six months. Compliance signs are required at city hall, in newspapers, and on the internet. In the absence of evidence that they’ve engaged in discrimination, officials must undergo training against it.

Not only does DOJ monitor a city’s actions related to the mosque and all other religious land use applications; DOJ has also required that documents on complaints to law enforcement about mosque activity and reported “harassment” of mosque participants be collected for retrieval by the DOJ.. That is, notwithstanding the centrality of mosques to several of DOJ’s own terrorism prosecutions—in which they have been proven to be used for jihadist incitement, recruitment, training, fundraising, and even the storage and transfer of weapons—DOJ implies that complaints and suspicions about mosque activity must be motivated by invidious discrimination. Law-enforcement officials like to tell the public, “If you see something, say something.” Do they mean it? Or are they actually instilling the paralysis that induced a San Bernardino resident, out of fear of being thought a bigot, to refrain from reporting suspicions about the neighborhood jihadists who later murdered 14 people?

The RLUIPA (Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act) governs religious land use decisions. Congress passed this law unanimously for the purpose of giving religious applicants a fair shot at achieving permit approvals. Congress intended that religious applicants would not be “substantially burdened” and that they would be treated on “equal terms” with other assembly uses. The courts have been inconsistent in interpreting this law, and almost every federal appellate circuit has a different approach. The Supreme Court has not ruled on the religious land use parts of the law.

Over the last few years, DOJ has sought to make it easier for mosques to bring lawsuits.  Lawyers at the notorious Civil Rights Division have pressed arguments that would allow discrimination to be proven by tenuous circumstantial evidence—including comments made by private citizens at a public hearing, which has the obvious effect of chilling speech—notwithstanding that speech is a civil right, the kind the Civil Rights Division exists to protect. So in addition to citing unequal treatment, the mosque applicant strategy focuses on discrimination charges by compiling examples of locals expressing what DOJ calls “naked animus.”

Therefore, when officials drill down on practices that are not conventional, like peak services on Friday when traffic may coincide with school hours, or comparing Ramadan as it lasts for a month with a one-time Easter or Christmas service, it may add to the legal appearance of “animus.” In essence, DOJ has taken justifiable community angst and transmogrified it into damning circumstantial proof of discrimination.

Predictable rule-application and practical limits are critical to the compatible mixing of assembly and residential uses of land. As the courts have said, RLUIPA was passed to provide equal terms for religious institutions but “not special treatment.” DOJ has been acting like RLUIPA intends special treatment, especially for one privileged group.

7 thoughts on “The Department of Justice is Privileging Mosques

  1. President Trump has got this… he will “Trump” then all!!! God bless President Trump and GOD bless the USA!!!

  2. Sorry to say, Trump has started to renege on campaign promises. I voted for him and trusted him to make good on them. Instead, he’s let establishment RINOs bs him…while they work along with the anti_America left to undermine and see him impeached. (AS if…)
    Trump and congress peeps are counting on us to say nothing and do nothing.
    If you are happy with this, you’ll continue to be happy till the end.
    If you are not happy…what are you doing?
    DO SOMETHING besides just read and bitch.

    Midnight’s not creeping, it’s at a gallop…

  3. The DOJ continues to abuse their power by threatening and demanding settlements from American Communities that object whether legitimate or not, to Mosques being built, even in Residential areas! We need to fight back against Obamas DOJ!

  4. These Muslim extremists believe, that “allah”, will Reward them with 72 Virgins & they could Not be more Wrong! Mohammad was a Dyslexic & misread the Quran! It says,”with 27 Virgins will I reward You, Butt You won’t know, if they are Male or female, until You get here SUCKERS”!!

  5. DHS’s Kelly Parrots “Islam IS Peace” Falsehood: Mirrors HUSSEIN’s Lying Mantra. What’s Going On? What’s To Be Done?
    Commentary By Adina Kutnicki
    Posted on June 27, 2017
    DHS’s Kelly Parrots “Islam IS Peace” Falsehood: Mirrors HUSSEIN’s Lying Mantra. What’s Going On? What’s To Be Done?
    Commentary By Adina Kutnicki
    Posted on June 27, 2017

    WITH all the jibber-jabber surrounding “swamp draining”, one can be forgiven for wanting to scream bloody murder – again and again. Maddening.

    INDEED, “The Donald”, the ultimate “take no prisoners” persona who is larger than life, promised to rid the main toxins within the swamp – still yet, many remain. Agreed, while there are countless (true, Rome wasn’t built in a day either), none is more urgent than dispelling the lie: “Islam IS Peace!” After all, western civilization hangs in the balance. Indubitably.

  6. What we are experiencing is Hegira, Hijra or Hijrah! What is Hegira or Hijra? Look it up because it will destroy America!

    WARNING TO US PATRIOTS: PA Governor Fast-Tracking ISLAMIC COMPOUND In Shenango Township! The End-Runs. National Danger Too
    Commentary By Adina Kutnicki
    Posted on June 29, 2017

    WHEN it comes to the arena of Islamic infiltration and penetration, what burrows within one state infects and affects the entire nation. A cascading reverberation. Fact-based. Resultant, the dangers couldn’t be more acute. By the way, ignorance is not an excuse, especially, when warnings and alarm bells are blaring at the highest decibel!

    INCONTESTABLY, its knock-on effects catapult from one coast to the other, and to all the states in between – whether on a slow-boil or full-steam ahead. And Exhibit Number One is none other than 9/11/01, in so far that the plot was hatched throughout the nation.

    IN fact, al-Qaeda’s Islamic jihadis (with assists from related hydras) hunkered down within various safe-houses in California, inside various mid-states along the way, and were given material and secondary support by networks spread throughout the east coast. Key cells were burrowed in Paterson and Jersey City, NJ, and with many scattered throughout NYC – with Brooklyn and Queens in the forefront. Ominously, almost 16 years after the largest terror attack in U.S. history, Islam’s jihadis are more ensconced than ever!

    THAT being established, let there be no argument: what happens at point A will, sooner than later, become a cancer within all points in between. Indeed, patriots have NO choice but to step up to the challenge of our time. At hand.

    AS reported, readers are aware that HIRA (a shadowy – emphasis placed – Islamic entity) is Allah-bent on “setting up shop” inside an almost 150 acre fortified compound in the midst of Shenango Township, Pennsylvania. By the way, when clicking on the above link, ignore the smiling pics of all-American looking kiddies. A smokescreen.

    BUT do pay heed to this site’s (June 18, 2017) initial analysis. Its core dangers were laid out as follows:

    A highly shadowy Islamic group (fronted by HIRA Educational Services, aka HESNA, via Asif Kunwar, founder and president, and Abdul Basit, vice-president, of which NOTHING is known about their professional bonafides, nor their associations thereof) is in the process of buying a property which is almost 150 acres, one which – up until Feb. 2013 – housed the Youth Development Center, aka YDC. As of this writing, their bid met the state’s deadline, and it was handed over for final approval. Yes, it is state-owned. Even so, where’s the meat and beef?

    ASIDE from the alarming red flags pointed out here, here, here and elsewhere, patriots (wherever they reside in America) must promptly inquire: why would an Islamic so-called educational consulting company (never mind the smiling pics of all-American kiddies at their rabbit-hole site), one which is, no less, shrouded in secrecy, require a facility which resembles a “fortified compound?” Ominously, the property has underground tunnels, jails, 13 buildings, etc., all of which are enclosed within barbed wire fencing!!

    CURIOUS and curiouser….

If sharia law continues spreading, you'll have less and less freedom of speech - so speak while you can!

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