Court Ruling a Major Win for Religious Freedom
WASHINGTON, DC — Yesterday, the Court of Appeals of Indiana issued a ruling that paves the way for the long-planned Islamic Life Center (ILC) to be built in Carmel, Indiana. The ruling represents a significant victory for religious freedom and for the Muslim community in the Carmel area who can soon put this saga behind them and have a place to worship.
The Muslim community in Carmel, Indiana currently worships in a rented storefront so small that prayers often spill over into the parking lot. In February 2018, Carmel’s zoning board approved the ILC’s application to build a much-needed mosque, following a contentious hearing with over 1,000 people in attendance. Despite widespread support from the community, a small but vocal and organized group filed a lawsuit against the zoning board to overturn their decision, even though they missed a mandatory 30-day deadline to file the record from the hearing below. The Hamilton County Superior Court, however, claimed authority to extend this deadline, citing a state law that had been repealed in 2011.
Yesterday, the Court of Appeals of Indiana overturned this ruling, meaning that absent any further appeal, the Al Salam Foundation’s congregation will soon be able to finally build a house of worship suitable for their community’s needs.
“We at Muslim Advocates are so proud of our clients, the Al Salam Foundation, Inc., who have shown incredible strength, sense of community and love for their city,” said Juvaria Khan, senior staff attorney at Muslim Advocates. “Their situation is, sadly, far too common. We’ve seen small but organized groups challenging permits for mosques and Muslim cemeteries nationwide, and we are proud that we could help our clients assert their basic right to worship here. Thanks to the hard work of the Al Salam Foundation and support from their community, Muslims in Carmel will finally have a place of worship at home.”
“It is such a relief to soon be able to close the book on this saga and begin construction on the Islamic Life Center,” said Dr. Nadeem Ikhlaque, President of the Al Salam Foundation. “All we ever wanted is a place to gather as a community and pray. We are grateful that religious freedom has won the day and we thank all of our friends and neighbors in Carmel who came out in overwhelming numbers to express their love and support for us.”
Muslim Advocates is a national civil rights organization working in the courts, in the halls of power and in communities to halt bigotry in its tracks. We ensure that American Muslims have a seat at the table with expert representation so that all Americans may live free from hate and discrimination.