On April 23, CAIR-Chicago’s Litigation Director, Kevin Vodak, presented at a lunchtime discussion at the University of Chicago Law School. His talk, entitled Mosque Zoning in Illinois: How Federal Law Has Protected Muslim Institutions Denied Zoning Approvals from Local Governments, focused on CAIR-Chicago’s efforts to enforce the Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) to ensure Muslim institutions in Illinois are protected from zoning decisions infringing on their rights to religious freedom.
Newer Muslim institutions seeking to establish mosques and educational centers throughout the U.S. in the post-9/11 era have been facing numerous barriers in securing zoning approvals from municipal and county governments. From neighbors’ objections ranging from traffic/parking concerns to outright derogatory remarks against Islam, Muslim institutions have been subjected to intense scrutiny by local governments when presenting their plans for new developments.
Vodak discussed how Muslim institutions have been victorious in this area, the complex nature of these cases, and how court decisions have assisted in combatting Islamophobia. CAIR-Chicago was successful in its litigation on behalf of the Irshad Learning Center and currently represents another Muslim institution denied zoning relief.