The American Islamic Center, a Bosnian Muslim congregation filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the city of Des Plaines, Il. and five of its aldermen, for violated its religious freedom when they denied it permission to convert a vacant office building into a mosque, the Chicago Tribune reports.
“We are not happy that we have to file this lawsuit,” Imam Senad Agic told the Tribune. “We are hoping the city council of Des Plaines would understand our religious needs.”
But the aldermen are saying they oppose building any house of worship in that industrial park.
“I don’t care if they’re Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, whatever. It’s not zoned for that particular area,” said Alderman Mark Walsten, who voted against an amendment to allow the mosque, because it would expose the congregation families to hazards. “Whenever there are children involved in an industrial area, I will not have that on my conscience,” Walsten explained.
Many of the center’s 160 members fled Bosnia in the 1990s to escape war and genocide, according to the Tribune. They had hoped to purchase a vacant building that had formerly been occupied by an insurance company.