Amid ever-increasing and justified anti-Muslim sentiment from local citizens and acrimony over the construction of yet another Islamic indoctrination center, Muslims in Yonkers are appealing to the Department of Justice to investigate and reverse the ruling against the mosque by a federal judge.
WNYC The Islamic Community Center for Mid-Westchester purchased the $750,000 medieval-revival home in 2015 in order to turn it into a mosque.
Zoning allowed a house of worship, but the following year, acting at the request of a local activist group, city officials designated the early-20th century building (photo below) a historic landmark, citing its unique architectural qualities.
That restricted the Muslims’ ability to renovate it without going to the Yonkers Landmarks Preservation Board for approval.
All Democrats on the Yonkers City Council opposed the decision; all Republicans voted in favor.
The Muslims called the move discriminatory and illegal, and they sued under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. This was the same kind of suit pursued by Muslims in Bernards Township, NJ, which led to an Obama Justice Department settlement. It forced the town to reverse its decision.
Typically, mosque applications are held up due to zoning concerns. The case in Yonkers is the first known to involve a historic designation. But in a ruling late last month, Judge Vincent L. Briccetti wrote that the matter did not rise to a federal violation, and he dismissed the suit.
Omar Mohammedi, the attorney for the Islamic Community Center for Mid-Westchester, said the judge failed to adequately evaluate possible religious discrimination. “We will appeal this decision and will vigorously defend ICCMW and its members’ religious rights,” he said. (Knock yourself out, Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch aren’t there to carry your water anymore)