Florham Park, NJ, January 3, 2017 … The Interfaith Coalition on Mosques (ICOM) today welcomed a decision by the U.S. District Court of New Jersey allowing The Islamic Society of Basking Ridge to move forward with its plans to build a mosque.
“We welcome this significant victory for religious freedom,” said Rabbi David Fox Sandmel, ADL Director of Interreligious Engagement. “The evidence in this case plainly suggested that The Islamic Society of Basking Ridge’s land use application was rejected simply because the congregation was Muslim.”
“We believe that the onerous parking and other standards used by the Township to reject the congregation’s land use application were subjective and permitted discriminatory and arbitrary enforcement,” said Joshua Cohen, ADL New Jersey Regional Director. “We are very pleased that the Court agreed by ruling in The Islamic Society’s favor and hope that its decision will serve as a stark reminder to municipalities across New Jersey that religious institutions of all faiths must be treated equally.”
Citing the brief joined by ICOM, the Court ruled on December 31 that the rejection of The Islamic Society’s land-use application by the Township of Bernards violated the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person Act (”RLUIPA”). It specifically found that that the Township applied a different standard to the mosque than every other house of worship in the community, in violation of RLUIPA’s non-discrimination provision.
ICOM is comprised of individuals and organizations from different faith traditions – Christian, Jewish and Muslim. It provides support and stands with Muslims when their rights to expand or build religious institutions are being violated.
The friend-of-the court brief joined by ICOM in this case was filed on behalf of a coalition of civil rights and interfaith organizations. The brief was prepared by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Center for Islam and Religious Freedom, and the law firm of Reich and Paolella LLP.
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