Denied Mosque Rezoning Violated Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
By denying the rezoning of a piece of land for use as a mosque, the city of Des Plaines, Illinois violated a Bosnian Muslim congregation's religious freedom, according to a civil rights lawsuit brought forward by the Federal Government. Manya Brachear Pashman of the Chicago Tribunereports that Des Plaines has entered into a consent decree with the Justice Department and is required to pay a fine of $580,000 for violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act in denying the rezoning of land for the mosque, despite the recommendation for approval by the city's planning commission.
The consent decree, which remains in effect for three years, requires the city to post signs in City Hall stating that it does not discriminate based on religion or any other protected status. It mandates continuing education for staff and elected officials. And it instructs the city to share news of the settlement with any party that has been denied rezoning since Jan. 1, 2010.
For 180 days, the city also must post on the front page of its website a pledge to comply with the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLIUPA), a federal law that prohibits unequal treatment of religious and nonreligious institutions, according to the settlement.