News from around Minnesota: Justice department sues Minneapolis suburb over denial of permit for mosque

The Justice Department is suing the city of St. Anthony, Minnesota for denying a request for a permit to establish a mosque.  The U.S. Attorney contends that the city council applied its zoning laws unevenly, and the federal government is seeking an injunction (presumably under RLUIPA).

A group of Somali immigrants formed the Abu Huraira Islamic Center in 2009 in hopes of establishing a worship center.  After years of trying to find a suitable location, the group bought a building in an area zoned light industrial.  The group applied for a conditional use permit, which was rejected by the city council after a crowded, contentious public meeting.  St. Anthony previously approved a conditional use permit for the Operating Engineers Union Local 49, which is also located in a light industrial zone, allowing the union to rent out its banquet hall to other groups. The US Attorney asserts that the meetings at the union hall constitute assemblies, and that RLUIPA prohibits cities from treating religious meetings differently than secular assemblies.

The USA Today article is here.

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