Last week, The Blaze reported the City Council in St. Anthony, Minn. almost unanimously rejected plans for a new Islamic center citing zoning concerns, voting 4-1 against the mosque and causing a local stir. Despite officials’ claims the decision was not discriminatory towards Islam, the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations urged the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate immediately following the decision.
And it didn’t take long for the federal government to comply.
An e-mail written by U.S. Attorney for Minnesota B. Todd Jones reveals that an attorney has been assigned to investigate the council’s vote to determine whether or not it qualifies as religious discrimination, according to an KSTP in Minneapolis.
More from KTSP:
The Feds are interested in this case because St. Anthony’s Planning Commission voted 5-1 to approve the permit. Then, just before the city council’s vote, the city changed its zoning ordinance and the council then voted, 4-1, to deny the permit. We are told the Feds want to know why the Council made a last minute change in the zoning ordinance before the vote was taken.
City officials in St. Anthony declined comment because there is possible litigation with this case. The U.S. Attorney’s Office confirmed they are looking into the matter but also declined to comment.
Following the vote against the Islamic center, Council member Hal Grey said other religious groups had attempted to develop houses of worship in similar “light industrial zones,” but council members agree they should be reserved for businesses.
“The industrial zone is set up for business, manufacturing, things like that,” he previously told the Star Tribune. “We have a very small area in St. Anthony set aside for industrial. So the more we take out of that, the less there is for economic development, jobs, et cetera.”
From The Blaze’s previous report on this story:
If history tells us anything, there is a good chance of the DOJ responding to CAIR’s request. The Star Tribune reports that the Justice Department has launched investigations into 28 similar cases where new mosques were blocked.
No, The Blaze is not prophetic, but history does tend to repeat itself.
So, along with the might of the federal government and CAIR, the proposed Islamic center also has the support of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). It would appear that the small city of St. Anthony is in for a David versus Goliath battle, that is, if they decide not to reverse their decision under the threat of litigation as has been the case time and time again.
This story has been updated.