HORN LAKE, Miss — The ACLU, its Mississippi chapter, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP filed a lawsuit Wednesday, accusing Horn Lake officials of unlawfully denying zoning approval for a proposed mosque.
The complaint claims Horn Lake alderman denied approval for the Abraham House of God mosque, even though the property for the mosque was located in an area zoned for houses of worship. The lawsuit said the mosque’s site plan “met or exceeded” all requirements for approval.
According to the ACLU, one alderman claimed the plaintiffs’ “religion says they can lie or do anything to the Jews or gentiles because we’re not Muslims.” The complaint said one city leader admitted the plan was rejected “because they’re Muslims.”
The lawsuit alleges Horn Lake violated the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The lawsuit asks the federal district court to issue an injunction allowing construction of the mosque.
“There are 13 churches in Horn Lake and 132 churches in DeSoto County, but not one mosque,” Riyadh Elkhayyat, co-founder of the Abraham House of God mosque, said in a statement.
Maher Abuirshaid, who co-founded the Abraham House of God with Elkhayyat, said in a statement: “A local mosque is critical for my family and the Muslim community in DeSoto County to practice our religion. I hope the city does the right thing by reversing this discriminatory decision.”
The ACLU held a news conference Wednesday. You can watch it HERE.