“Jury: City Didn’t Violate Muslims’ Rights,” from AP, with thanks to The Frozen Ghost:
May 22, 2005 – A federal jury has found that a Chicago suburb didn’t violate the civil rights of a Muslim group that claims city officials conspired to foil its plans to turn a vacant church into a mosque and school.
The Al Salam Mosque Foundation sued the city of Palos Heights in 2000, alleging religious discrimination and breach of contract, but the jury rejected the claims Friday.
The City Council had offered the foundation $200,000 to drop its plan to buy the Reformed Church of Palos Heights. At the time, aldermen insisted they offered the payment so the city could buy the church and convert it into much-needed recreation space.
An attorney representing the mosque originally said the group would turn down the offer. Later, he said the group would rather accept the money and remove itself from the politically charged debate.
But the deal fell apart when former Mayor Dean Koldenhoven vetoed the payout, calling it “an insult” to the community’s Muslims.
Abdallah El Sheikh, the foundation’s president, testified Wednesday that Koldenhoven’s move actually was a calculated “slap in the face.”
Koldenhoven, a defendant in the case, said the verdict will allow the city and community to put a tense issue to rest.
“I’m very happy for the people of Palos Heights,” Koldenhoven said. “I’m sure they’ll be well pleased.”
El Sheikh said the group would consider appealing the ruling.
The foundation’s attorney, Gregory Kulis, said he hoped the verdict would not send the wrong message to other cities or Muslim groups seeking to purchase property.
“People are talking about it and realizing we are all equal in this country,” Kulis said. “We are proud that this case has brought the issue of religious freedom to the forefront not only locally but across the nation. I hope the rest of the country will accept Muslims for what they are: American.”
Sure. I’ll be happy to. Let them prove it, please, by renouncing Sharia, refusing all money and support from Sharia states, and actively aiding anti-terror efforts.