The city of St. Anthony Village, Minnesota is facing a lawsuit for the city council’s refusal to allow the opening of an Islamic center. The building, which is located in an industrial section and once housed offices for Medtronics, was purchased by the Abu Huraira Islamic group for $1.864 million in 2012, and the group’s plan is to use the space for prayer and meetings. Abu Huraira is claiming religious discrimination after the city council denied permission with a 4 to 1 vote against it after initially approving the plans.
City attorney Jay Lindgren defended the decision, saying the city wanted to reserve the area for business use. “The city will vigorously defend its actions. Doesn’t matter whether it is a mosque, synagogue or church. None are allowed in the area intended for manufacturing and offices where jobs are put into place.”
However, Abu Huraira is arguing that anti-Muslim views lie at the core of the council’s decision, because some of the residents who spoke against the plan made xenophobic remarks such as “Where did you come from? Change your own country.” Civil rights attorney Ellen Longfellow said, “We were shocked when St. Anthony denied the conditional use permit for the Islamic center in 2012 and saw no legitimate reason for the denial.”