Tag Archives: mosque

Justice Dept. sues Virginia county over denied permit for mosque

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Culpeper County, Virginia, alleging the county violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 when it denied a sewage permit application to the Islamic Center of Culpeper.

The Justice Department said denying the permit effectively preventing the ICC from building a small mosque on land that it had purchased in the county.  The land is located in a zoning district where religious land use is permitted by right.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, alleges the county imposed a substantial burden on the Muslim congregation’s exercise of religion and discriminated against the ICC based on religion when it refused to grant a “pump and haul” permit to allow the ICC to transport sewage from the ICC’s property to a point of disposal.

The county had told the ICC that such a permit was necessary because its soil, like much soil in the area, could not support a septic system.  Since 1992, the county has considered 26 applications and never denied a pump and haul permit to a commercial or religious use prior to the ICC.

“The Constitution and federal law specifically protect the freedom of religious communities to establish houses of worship,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division.  “The Justice Department will continue to work tirelessly to protect every person’s right to assemble for religious exercise.”

“Religious liberty is a fundamental right in our country and this case seeks to uphold that right,” added U.S. Attorney John P. Fishwick Jr. of the Western District of Virginia.

RLUIPA, enacted in 2000, contains multiple provisions prohibiting religious discrimination and protecting against unjustified burdens on religion exercise.

Orlando mosque to hold prayer service

The Baitul-Aafiyat Mosque will hold a prayer service tonight, June 12, in Orlando.

Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA issued a statement urging calm after 50 were killed and scores injured at the Pulse, a gay dance club in the central Florida city.

The shooting early June 12 — the largest mass shooting in U.S. history — occurred on Latin-themed night at the club just days after 150,000 people celebrated Gay Days in Orlando.

In a statement issued mid-day June 12,  Dr. Wajeeh Bajwa, president of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Orlando, said, “We condemn this senseless and horrific act of violence in the strongest possible terms.

“Our community has been in Orlando for nearly two decades and yet have never seen such depravity. Our hearts go out to the innocent victims and their families.  We stand in solidarity with them as their neighbors and brothers and sisters in peace.”

He continued, “In light of this horrific tragedy, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Orlando Chapter will hold a prayer service for the victims, their families and the entire grieving community. We pray for the swift recovery of the injured and for our heroic law enforcement officers. We continue to offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims. Islam teaches reverence for all human life. This is a time to pray and act to stop such senseless violence in our nation.”

Additionally, Bajwa said the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Orlando Chapter is encouraging its members to donate blood even though they may be fasting today, which the  seventh fast in the month of Ramadan.

Florida’s blood services have issued a call for donors.

The prayer service will be at 8 p.m. eastern time at Baitul-Aafiyat Mosque, 9501 Satellite Blvd., Suite 103, Orlando.

LGBT groups respond to violence in Oak Creek, Joplin

A coalition of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights groups and allies issued a solidarity statement responding to this week’s violence in Oak Creek, Wis., and Joplin, Mo.

The statement, released Aug. 9, reads:

“As organizations serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) communities, we are stunned and saddened by the recent spate of violence against communities across the country. The shooting at the Sikh gurdwara (temple) in Oak Creek, WI that left 6 people dead was certainly a blow to all of us on Sunday, August 5. To hear about the fire at the mosque in Joplin, MO not even 24 hours later compounded our sense of tragedy and shock. We send our deepest sympathies to the families affected.

“Currently, details about both incidents are still emerging. Local law enforcement in Oak Creek have been joined by the FBI in an ongoing investigation of the incident as a potential act of domestic terrorism and a potential hate crime. The fire in Joplin was the second of its kind at the mosque, on the heels of another fire on July 4. Motives in both cases are still being determined (the first fire at the Joplin mosque was determined to be arson).

“The LGBTQ communities we work with and serve are no strangers to violence in our midst. We know our communities are threatened on a daily basis by the many faces of hate and intolerance – not just because of our sexuality or gender identity, but because of our race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, ability, and too many other facets of our identities. We stand in solidarity against all forms of violence, as well as the hate and intolerance that all too often propagate it.

“We roundly condemn the violence committed against our fellow community members in Oak Creek, WI and Joplin, MO. As flags fly at half-staff around the country, we call for a fuller dialogue among diverse communities, law enforcement, and policymakers to better address violence in our communities.”

The groups that signed the statement include: Advocates for Youth, Affinity Community Services, Inc., American Civil Liberties Union, Asian Pacific Islander Equality- Northern California, Audre Lorde Project, CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers, Family Equality Council, FIERCE, First Nations Two Spirit Collective, Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, Immigration Equality | Action Fund, International Federation of Black Prides, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Queers United for Action, PFLAG National (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), Queers for Economic Justice, Queer Muslim Working Group, Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project (QWOCMAP), SALGA, Southerners on New Ground (SONG), Sylvia Rivera Law Project and Trikone.