Portland Mosque Litigation Settled

Affiliate: ACLU of Maine
January 14, 2011 12:00 am

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of Maine
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CONTACT: (212) 519-7829 or 549-2666; media@aclu.org

Portland – This morning, the U.S. District Court approved the settlement agreement reached between the City of Portland and the Portland Masjid and Islamic Center, concerning the center’s religious land-use litigation. The case, which was filed by the MCLU in 2009, stemmed from the difficulty the group had in gaining approval for a place of worship, under a now-amended provision of Portland’s land-use code.

In response to the litigation, that provision was amended to make it easier for small religious groups, like the plaintiffs in this suit, to set up small religious gathering sites in the city. The center has used the new law to create a small mosque on Washington Avenue, in a building that was formerly home to a television repair shop. Approximately 10-15 people now gather there at mid-day on Friday each week for prayer services.

The following can be attributed to MCLU Legal Director Zachary Heiden, who represented the group in this case:

“This case changed the law. Portland is home to a rich and diverse mix of cultures and religions, and the law now makes it possible for new groups to practice their religion freely. Our clients came to this country fleeing religious persecution in Afghanistan, after the Soviet Union invaded. Hopefully, Maine will continue to be a place that welcomes immigrants, including those fleeing war and famine.

Maine’s people speak many languages and practice many religions, but we are united under the protection that the Constitution guarantees to everyone, including freedom of religion.”

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