Victory in Carmel, Indiana: Muslim Advocates’ Client, Al Salam Foundation, Receives Approval of its Mosque Building Permit

Carmel, Indiana – On February 26, 2018, after years of effort to build their mosque and in the face of a concerted and well-organized opposition, the Al Salam Foundation was finally granted a permit to build the Islamic Life Center (ILC).

Muslim Advocates, along with the law firm Krieg DeVault LLP, represented the Al Salam Foundation in its efforts to obtain a permit for the ILC. Muslim Advocates was on the ground in Carmel during the hearing, ensuring our clients received the fair process they deserve.

“We at Muslim Advocates are so proud of our clients, the Islamic Life Center of Carmel, Indiana, who have shown incredible tenacity, strength, sense of community, and love for their city,” said Juvaria Khan, staff attorney for Muslim Advocates.  “Too often, we’ve seen mosque opposition campaigns turn zoning laws and processes on their head to deny their Muslims neighbors the chance to worship in their own community–but not in Carmel, Indiana, thanks to the efforts of the entire community.”

The Al Salam Foundation was founded by members of the Carmel, Indiana-area’s growing Muslim community. For years, members of the congregation have worshiped in an inadequate rented space so small that many had to pray outside in the parking lot.

Although the Al Salam Foundation spent years searching for a suitable piece of property for the ILC, they faced difficulty finding a property owner who was willing to sell them land for a mosque. In 2017, the Al Salam Foundation was finally able to purchase a plot of land. They hired an architect and began the routine process of securing the routine permit required to build the ILC.

But at their January 2018 hearing in front of Carmel’s zoning board, a vocal and well-organized opposition took over, resulting in the zoning board delaying a vote on the merits of the permit application for another month.

The Al Salam Foundation then hired Muslim Advocates, tightened its application, and mobilized its supporters to participate in the rescheduled zoning board hearing.

Nearly a thousand people attended the February meeting. Hundreds of people spoke in favor and against the ILC. While some of the opposition lodged concerns about parking and congestion, others voiced fears about their children’s safety and the spread of Islam. In response, the Al Salam Foundation’s supporters — who came from every background and age — provided moving testimony in support of the ILC. Allies welcomed their neighbors with open arms while members of the Muslim community explained how important it was to them to have what all their neighbors had — a place where they could pray.

The hearing lasted over five hours, and finally, near midnight, the zoning board voted 3-2 to approve the permit on its merits. Muslim Advocates applauds the Al Salam Foundation for its perseverance and success.

Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy and educational organization that works on the frontlines of civil rights to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths.