ADL, Pew fighting those who fight mosques

The Anti-Defamation League has filed a legal brief opposing legal efforts to stop construction of a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Actually, the brief is a project of the newly formed Interfaith Coalition on Mosques (ICOM), which ADL created in the wake of mounting reports that local officials in communities around the country are working to block mosque construction and expansion.

Opponents of the Murfreesboro mosque are basing their suit on legal technicalities and claims it would pose “elevated risks to the public safety of citizens of Rutherford County.”

Yeah, right: like all those synagogues and Jewish day schools that have fought local zoning authorities for years over such claims.

The ADL based its brief on the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), a 2000 law that Jewish groups were instrumental in passing. The law means local authorities can’t bar the construction of houses of worship without darned good reasons – something some local officials now seem to believe only applies to some religions.

Not so, the ADL argues, and it’s putting its money – and its legal team – behind its argument.

Meanwhile, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has introduced an interesting Web feature for anybody concerned about the issue.

The site features an interactive map highlighting 35 proposed mosques and Islamic centers “that have encountered community resistance in the last two years, with information about each.

“In many cases, the opposition has centered on neighbors’ concerns about traffic, noise, parking and property values,” Pew reports.

It would be interesting to see a similar map about synagogue projects being opposed by local authorities – despite RLUIPA. Maybe then those Jews who think Islam isn’t a real religion that deserves real constitutional protections might acquire a little empathy and perspective.

Then again, maybe not.


About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.