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.

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all. Today it is the world’s leading organization combating anti-Semitism, exposing hate groups, training law enforcement on hate crimes, developing anti-bias education programs for students, countering cyber-hate and relentlessly pursuing equal rights for all.

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