Three Years After Settling Dispute, Construction Begins On Mosque In Sterling Heights, Michigan | USAO-EDMI

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan congratulates the American Islamic Community Center (AICC) on the beginning of construction of its new mosque in Sterling Heights, Michigan, which was the subject of an earlier federal lawsuit brought by the Justice Department.

In 2016, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Civil Rights Division filed a lawsuit against Sterling Heights, Michigan, alleging that the city violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) when it denied approval for AICC to build a mosque in the city.  The AICC sought to build in Sterling Heights because the location was more convenient for its members and its current space had become inadequate for its religious, educational and social needs. The lawsuit alleged that the denial imposed a substantial burden on AICC’s religious exercise, as well as religious discrimination. 

The Justice Department’s case settled in February, 2017, paving the way for the construction of AICC’s new mosque.  Today, the American Islamic Community Center celebrated this victory in a ribbon cutting ceremony. 

“The Constitution protects the rights of religious communities from discriminatory practices,” said United States Attorney Matthew Schneider.  “We are happy to join AICC on this very important day.  While it is a shame that it had to face delays and unnecessary obstacles, AICC’s beautiful new building will stand as a lasting reminder of the importance to fight for the religious rights of all Americans.  We are so pleased that the U.S. Attorney’s Office could assist AICC in its journey.”

RLUIPA, enacted in 2000, contains multiple provisions prohibiting religious discrimination and protecting against unjustified burdens on religious exercise.  Persons who believe that they been subjected to religious discrimination in land use or zoning may contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Michigan’s Civil Rights Hotline at (313) 226-9151 or usamie.civilrights@usdoj.gov

The Civil Rights Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office was established in 2010 with the mission of enhancing federal civil rights enforcement. For more information on the Office’s civil rights efforts, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-edmi/programs/civil-rights.

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