CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Department of Justice announced June 6 that the city of Des Plaines, Illinois, has agreed to resolve allegations of violating the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA).
“Religious freedom is a fundamental right that belongs to all persons and religious groups in the United States,” said acting assistant attorney general Tom Wheeler of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division will remain vigilant in its enforcement of federal law protecting the rights of religious communities to build and use property for religious worship.”
The Society of American Bosnians and Herzegovinans (SABAH), a Bosnian Muslim religious organization, had allegedly submitted a rezoning application to the city to turn a vacant building into a mosque. The city denied the request.
“Religious freedom is a fundamental right, and we will not tolerate the unlawful use of zoning or land use restrictions to infringe on that right,” said Joel R. Levin, acting U.S. attorney of the Northern District of Illinois.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to safeguard the rights of religious groups to establish houses of worship without fear of discriminatory zoning or land use practices.”