DUPAGE - A federal court ruling allowing an Islamic education center to operate in a county in the US state of Illinois is leaving the Muslim community in a state of jubilance.
"I have been waiting for 30 years to have some kind of facility that is near my home that I can go five times a day," Muslim resident Aziz Sattar told NBC Chicago.
Sattar was celebrating a federal judge ruling to reverse an earlier verdict to prevent an Islamic education facility from operating in suburban Chicago.
The Irshad Learning Center sought to open in a single-family home that had been previously used as a private school.
But the county's board voted 10-7 to deny its application for a conditional use permit after some neighbors complained their property values would go down.
Board members argued that they were concerned about the center operating in a residential neighborhood.
But US District Court Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer reversed the ruling, allowing the Islamic center to operate.
The judge said she expects the DuPage County Board to approve a request from the Irshad Learning Center.
The 70-page ruling found no "direct evidence of deliberate discrimination" by the county or its workers, though she noted that a zoning board of appeals member had asked the group's attorney if animal sacrifices would be held.
The judge, however, found that DuPage County's "repeated errors, speculation, and refusal to impose conditions" under which the project could be approved led her to conclude that the county had wrongly imposed a "substantial burden" on the group's application and that its denial was "arbitrary and capricious."
"The county's repeated errors, speculation and refusal to impose conditions support an inference that the county subjected ILC to a substantial burden.
Board members of the Irshad center celebrated the court ruling.
"Hopefully this is the end of our struggle in terms of having our own permanent place," board member Mahmood Ghassemi said.
He said the new center would offer the group a permanent place after years of renting a space in a Woodridge church.
The organization began searching for a permanent home in 2003.
Dupagee County's opposition to the new Islamic center is not a new phenomenon.
Plans for a mosque near Willowbrook also generated controversy but were approved by DuPage County in 2011 with restrictions on the height of a dome and minaret.
The United States is home of a Muslim minority of between six to eight million.
The US has enacted a federal law in 2000 that meant to prevent zoning laws from discriminating against religious institutions.
But in the last five years, there has been "anti-mosque activity" in more than half of the US states, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
At least 18 mosque projects from Mississippi to Wisconsin have found foes who battle to stop them from seeing light citing different pretexts, including traffic concerns and fear of terrorism.
Even more, some mosques were vandalized including a 2011 Wichita mosque arson case for which a $5,000 reward is being offered.
In multicultural New York, a proposed mosque near Ground Zero site has snowballed into a national public and political debate, with opponents arguing that the Muslim building would be an insult to the memory of the 9/11 victims.Advocates, however, say that the mosque would send a message of tolerance in 9/11-post America.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net