• September 2, 2014

Emblem of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood

If you do not know the answer to the question in the title of this post, see Betteridge’s Law. Also, shame on you. You are a bigot and you are unamerican. We are a nation built on religious tolerance. Whatever opinions you might hold as to any religious faith, our country has never been and will never be at war with a religion.

Having said that, the United States of America is now into our second decade of war with certain Islamic extremist groups as we all know. And, unfortunately, many Americans have obviously found it difficult to draw a distinction between the Muslim faith, broadly, and the much smaller number of extremist Islamic groups who have, in fact, literally waged war on the United States.

I suppose one can easily conclude that there are ignorant hateful bigots on both sides.

But what, in the world, does this have to do with Minnesota, where we are progressive, peaceful, inclusive, tolerant — above average?

It is not clear whether this toxic intolerance is behind the recent lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota: Abu-Huraira Islamic Center and Muxamedrashid Ali v. City of St. Anthony (which has been assigned to Chief Judge Michael J. Davis (D. Minn.)).

But one can certainly understand plaintiffs’ perception that it might be. The complaint is lengthy and well-documented with 21 exhibits.

The case concerns efforts of the plaintiffs to have an Islamic Center in St. Anthony, Minnesota. These efforts have been unsuccessful to date. According to the Complaint, the St. Anthony City Council seems to be going to some lengths to fight the Center, which is opposed by some members of the St. Anthony community. The City Council and some citizens of St. Anthony are ostensibly concerned about increased pedestrian traffic and so on (Complaint, Para. 63, and Paras. 95-101). (Some bigotry behind some citizens’ concerns appear quite clearly behind transparent veils such as the statement that one commenters, “does not want to see a mosque in the City.”)

The St. Anthony City Planner and the City Planning Commission, however, both recommended approval of Plaintiff’s proposed Center. (Complaint, Para. 80.).

Plaintiffs are represented by Timothy Keane, Todd Guerrero, and Douglas Peters of the Minneapolis office of the Nebraska-based law firm, Kutak Rock.

The City of St. Anthony, to date (pre-lawsuit), has been represented by Jay Lindgren of Dorsey & Whitney, L.L.P. It remains to be seen who the city will retain to defend it in this lawsuit.

Stay tuned…

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