Jury Rules That Palos Heights Did Not Violate Mosque Rights

May 22, 2005

Original Source: The Boston Globe


On May 22, 2005 The Boston Globe reported, "a federal jury has found that a Chicago suburb didn't violate the civil rights of a Muslim group that claims city officials conspired to foil its plans to turn a vacant church into a mosque and school. The Al Salam Mosque Foundation sued the city of Palos Heights in 2000, alleging religious discrimination and breach of contract, but the jury rejected the claims Friday. The City Council had offered the foundation $200,000 to drop its plan to buy the Reformed Church of Palos Heights. At the time, aldermen insisted they offered the payment so the city could buy the church and convert it into much-needed recreation space. An attorney representing the mosque originally said the group would turn down the offer. Later, he said the group would rather accept the money and remove itself from the politically charged debate. But the deal fell apart when former Mayor Dean Koldenhoven vetoed the payout, calling it 'an insult' to the community's Muslims. Abdallah El Sheikh, the foundation's president, testified Wednesday that Koldenhoven's move actually was a calculated 'slap in the face.' Koldenhoven, a defendant in the case, said the verdict will allow the city and community to put a tense issue to rest."