Interfaith Coalition Acts to Protect N.J. Mosque from Discriminatory Town Ordinance

New York, NY, February 28, 2014…The Interfaith Coalition on Mosques (ICOM) today filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit supporting a Muslim congregation in Bridgewater, New Jersey whose mosque construction was unlawfully blocked by a town ordinance.  ICOM was formed by the Anti-Defamation League in 2010 to assist Muslim communities confronting opposition to the legal building, expansion or relocation of their mosques.

The brief in Al Falah Center v. Township of Bridgewater contends that the township’s conduct violates a federal statute which safeguards the religious freedom of houses of worship and other religious institutions in the land-use context by requiring courts to apply a strict standard for reviewing laws that substantially burden religious exercise.

“The town’s discriminatory actions in this case represent an unjustifiable denial of the congregation’s right to worship freely,” said Deborah M. Lauter, ADL Civil Rights Director and an ICOM spokeswoman. “The court should affirm America’s well-settled and robust history of religious liberty and acceptance as its guiding principle by upholding the lower court decision in favor of the congregation.”

The Interfaith Coalition on Mosques is comprised of individuals and organizations from different faith traditions – Christian, Jewish and Muslim – and provides support and stands with Muslims when their rights are being violated.

The brief was prepared for ICOM by the Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton LLP.

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.