News from Minnesota: Minneapolis suburb settles RLUIPA suit

The US Justice Department and the city of St. Anthony, Minnesota have settled a RLUIPA lawsuit stemming from the denial of a conditional use permit to establish a mosque.  A group of Somali immigrants formed the Abu Huraira Islamic Center in 2009 in hopes of establishing a worship center in St. Anthony.  In June 2012, the St. Anthony City Council voted 4 to 1 to deny the conditional use permit for the Islamic center, despite a recommendation by the St. Anthony Planning Commission to approve the project. At the council meeting, several St. Anthony citizens voiced their objections to the Islamic center in a way that, Islamic center proponents asserted, clearly exposed the real reason for the delay and ultimate rejection.  The residents’ comments included: “There is no other religion in the world that condones violence. Islam is evil,” and, “Where did you come from? [Go] change your own country.”

According to Fox News 9 in the Twin Cities the terms of the settlement agreement include:

– The permit will allow Abu-Huraira to use the St. Anthony Business Center for religious worship.

– St. Anthony Village will not treat Abu-Huraira or any other religious groups in a discriminatory manner through the application of its zoning laws.

– Elected leaders, city managers and certain city employees will participate in educational training about requirements of RLUIPA.

– St. Anthony Village will make RLUIPA information available to the public through its website and will report periodically to the Justice Department.

The dispute was originally discussed in our blogpost here.

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