(CHICAGO, 1/14/11) – The Chicago Office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) today called on DuPage County residents to urge the DuPage County Board to approve a zoning permit for a Muslim community center in Willowbrook.
Yesterday, the DuPage County Zoning Board of Appeals voted 5 to 2 to recommend the denial of a special-use permit for the Muslim Educational and Cultural Center of America (MECCA). A second recommendation will be made by the DuPage County Development Committee (CDC) on February 1, followed by a final decision by the DuPage County Board.
SEE: Chicago Tribune: DuPage zoning board rejects mosque request
“We are baffled by Thursday’s recommendation,” Ahmed Rehab, CAIR-Chicago Executive Director said. “MECCA has done a phenomenal job of meeting and exceeding all of the requirements of the zoning process.”
Zoning board members who voted against the Mosque petition cited traffic and flooding issues and “a saturation of religious institutions.”
“The plan submitted by the petitioner addresses the flooding concerns head-on,” Board member Michael Loftus who voted for the MECCA proposal told the Tribune.
Loftus said traffic from the mosque is not a concern because the county is already planning for increased traffic on 91st Street in the near future, the Tribune reports.
“There are a total of zero Sunni Mosques in the unincorporated DuPage county, the area for which this decision is being made. In what way does that constitute an over-saturation?” Rehab said.
“There is a large and growing number of Muslim families who live, work, and pay taxes in DuPage County yet are being denied the same right as their neighbors to establish institutions to accommodate their religious and community needs.”
This is the third Muslim community center to petition for a special-use permit over the last couple of years. This same DuPage County Zoning Board of Appeals has recommended a denial all three times. This is a disconcerting track record.
A recommendation for denial for the Irshad Learning Center of Naperville was taken up by the final board vote despite a recommendation for approval by the CDC. CAIR-Chicago subsequently filed a lawsuit against DuPage county to address the religious rights violations of Irshad Learning Center.
The third denial was recommended against a Muslim community center, the Islamic Center of the West Suburbs (ICWS). ICWS is currently awaiting the recommendation of the CDC to be followed by the final board decision.
“In addition to the accommodation concerns, these centers would contribute immensely to the area’s economic, cultural, and charitable development,” added Rehab.
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CAIR-Chicago is a chapter of America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CONTACT: Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director, CAIR-Chicago, 202-870-0166, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR-Chicago Civil Rights Director Christina Abraham, 312-212-1520: E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR-Chicago Staff Attorney Kevin Vodak, 312 212-1520, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org