Chaldean Christians who fled Islamic persecution in Iraq and sought refuge in Sterling Heights, Michigan have filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city and Mayor Michael C. Taylor over the construction of a mega-mosque which they say violates state and federal law.
(WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / Project for Public Sources)City Hall of Sterling Heights, Michigan. 3 September 2014.
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On Feb. 21, Mayor Taylor and the Sterling Heights city council voted to settle a lawsuit filed by a Shiite Muslim group and to approve the construction of a 21,000-sq. ft. mega-mosque in a residential area largely occupied by the Chaldean Christian refugees. A lawsuit filed by former President Barack Obama’s Department of Justice accusing the city of denying a permit to be issued for the mosque construction based on “anti-Muslim” sentiments was also settled during the same meeting, World Net Daily reports.
On Monday, the American Freedom Law Center filed a counter-lawsuit on behalf of the refugees, saying the construction of the American Islamic Community Center — which would be the third in the city — outraged the victims of genocide residing in Sterling Heights. According to AFLC senior counsel Robert Muise, the AICC mosque’s application for expansion into the city was motivated by its desire to “plant the flag” in the community of Christian refugees.
“The mayor and the corrupted personal interests behind him have outraged a community which is comprised of the largest minority Assyrian/Chaldean Christians from Iraq,” Nahren Anweya, the representative for the Chaldean and Assyrian Christians in the city, said. “This minority group consists of more than four generations of refugees and genocide victims under radical Islam.”
While the AICC mosque had previously planned to have its groundbreaking this summer after the lawsuit was settled, the AFLC’s move will likely postpone those plans.
In January, Pastor Basile also found his home, and the nearby road and snow, spray painted with graffiti. He said the act was most probably triggered by signs on his windows which expressed opposition to the construction of a mosque in the city.