February 27, 2014
Issue: Religious Freedom
Brief Filed in Important NJ Mosque Opposition Case
Muslim Advocates and its allies filed an amicus brief yesterday in a case where public officials prevented a Muslim community from building a mosque after an outpouring of anti-Muslim protests.
Three years ago the Al-Falah Center, a Muslim community center in Bridgewater, New Jersey, sought to convert an abandoned banquet hall into a mosque. The effort was met with fierce opposition from some local residents. Protestors who appeared at the initial zoning board hearing reportedly yelled, “Get out of here,” “Get out of Bridgewater,” and “Go somewhere else,” as Al-Falah representatives spoke. Following these protests, local officials amended Bridgewater’s zoning laws to prevent the mosque from being built.
Al-Falah, represented by Arnold & Porter LLP, the Brennan Center for Justice, and others, sued the Township of Bridgewater in 2011. The lower court sided with Al-Falah and ordered the Township of Bridgewater to allow the Al-Falah Center to continue with its plans. However, the Town appealed the lower court’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, where Muslim Advocates and its allies filed an amicus brief in support of Al-Falah.
The Muslim Advocates amicus brief, filed along with the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, the National Council for Jewish Women, the Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationship of the United Methodist Church, and the Sikh Coalition, illustrates for the court the full context of mosque opposition cases like Al-Falah’s. The amicus brief explains how mosque opposition cases are not isolated incidents, but must be considered along with rising anti-Muslim sentiment across the country.
Muslim Advocates and its allies are hopeful that Al-Falah will successfully defeat the appeal and look forward to Al-Falah opening the doors to its new mosque in the near future.
To read the amicus brief, please click here.