In what was hailed as a landmark decision, a federal judge said a New Jersey town broke federal anti-discrimination laws by refusing to allow a group of Muslims to build a new mosque.
The planning board of Bernards Township, New Jersey, a town just west of Newark, had denied plans for the building by insisting that the proposed property didn’t have enough parking. But the Muslim congregants felt the reason for denying the building permit was just an excuse to quash their religious freedom because the city was demanding they have more parking space than the town had ever demanded of Christian or Jewish places of worship. So, the Muslim group took the city to federal court claiming discrimination.
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After a four-year effort to get their mosque approved, the Muslims sued the town in federal court in March of 2016. During the case the city argued that the parking requirements had nothing to do with religion and was meant as a safety issue only. But counsel for the Muslim group, Adeel Mangi, said that unfair parking requirements have been used against new mosques before and it is just a tactic that had nothing to do with safety.
Now the city has lost their case. This month U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp ruled that the city’s parking requirements amounted to a violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutional Persons Act, the Daily Caller reported.
The judge ruled that to allow the town to use parking as a weapon against religious groups gave the town “unbridled and unconstitutional discretion.”
Lawyer Mangi said of the decision, “This truly is a landmark ruling with national impact.”
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