A Justice Department spokeswoman confirms to TPM that the Civil Rights Division has an ongoing investigation into whether a town council in Gwinnett County, Ga., denied a mosque a land use permit because of its religion.
As first reported by WSBTV, the Lilburn City Council has voted several times to deny the Dar-e Abbas Shia Islamic Center’s rezoning and special use permit requests, which would allow the mosque to move to a larger property and build a cemetery.
Doug Dillard, who is representing the mosque in its own federal civil lawsuit, told the Gwinnett Daily Post that the denial was a “violation of first, fourth and 14th Amendments of the United States Constitution.”
“It creates a substantial burden on these Muslims because they cannot worship in adequate facilities,” Dillard said, “and they’re not being treated on equal terms with other religious facilities in the area.
The investigation falls under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). As of September, Justice Department said it was monitoring nearly as many potential RLUIPA violations situations in the past five months as it had in the previous nine and a half years.