CAIR-MI welcomes zoning approvals for places of worship
| Thursday, 07.03.2014, 11:41 PM
WARREN/MACOMB COUNTY — Within the past week, the Council on American Islamic Relations of Michigan has advocated on behalf of two Islamic organizations regarding zoning approvals.
CAIR-MI Staff Attorney Lena Masri represented the Muslim Community of Macomb before the city of Sterling Heights’ Zoning Board of Appeals and was instrumental in obtaining a use variance that allows the group to worship and conduct religious services in Sterling Heights.
CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid spoke on behalf of the Islamic Organization of North America (IONA) before the Warren Planning Commission regarding land usage approval for an expansion project.
In the Warren case, there was some interfaith support for IONA; however, there was significant opposition to the expansion project. One planning commission member read letters against the Muslim community, including a highly inflammatory submission from an alleged anonymous concerned resident.
A series of Warren residents subsequently gave public comments against the expansion project, many of them in coded language such as their wanting to “maintain a quiet, peaceful community” and voicing unfounded concerns about potential “depreciating property values.” Others made more direct making reference to “these people.”
CAIR-MI has assisted a number of Islamic centers and is currently representing the Michigan Islamic Academy (MIA) in a lawsuit against Pittsfield Township in a zoning denial case. It said it realizes these cases are part of a trend of the institutionalization of Islamophobia, where government officials and residents use procedural matters and coded language to block the construction and expansion of Islamic schools and centers.
CAIR-MI plans to issue a brief report in the near future on the trend of opposition of the construction or expansion of Islamic centers and schools in Michigan, and how this trend is influenced by the Islamophobia network outside of Michigan.