Township and Mosque Mediation to Begin Soon
Saturday, September, 10, 2016
The federal lawsuit that concerns a New Jersey township’s denial of a mosque will be headed to mediation in September. The federal judge recently ruled the lawsuit between the township and the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge should be mediated by a retired US district judge. If mediation were to fail, the lawsuit would proceed to a court trial.
The ruling came after the attorney for the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge sent a letter accusing those against the mosque of running a campaign of malicious statements that were reported in the press. The letter detailed an interview on Fox News that supposedly attacked the congregation and Department of Justice for launching an investigation. Others involved with the dispute say the problem is one related to land use and it has nothing to do with a religion. The letter also discussed the amount of hate mail that has been received by the mayor of the township and talked about the obscene images and threats that were included in the mail.
The case has been receiving ongoing national attention since the Department of Justice decided to file a lawsuit to investigate whether or not the township violated religious freedom laws by denying plans for the mosque. Those in support of the mosque argue the planning board’s denial was personal and about religion, not because of land use. According to the plans, the mosque would be more than 4200 square feet and located on Church Street in the township’s Basking Ridge Section. It would include a nearly 2000 square foot prayer hall – something supporters claim met all zoning requirement.