Palos Heights, Chicago: Controversy over Sale of Church to Muslims

May 24, 2000

Source: Chicago Sun-Times

On May 24, 2000, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that "Plans to open a mosque in Palos Heights have upset residents and prompted some City Council members to consider derailing the plan by condemning the property the mosque wants to purchase." The Al Salam Mosque Foundation wanted to buy "the Reformed Church of Palos Heights' building." Residents say they fear increased traffic and would like to use the building for a new recreation center. "But a less vocal group in the south suburb also has expressed fears about the people of Middle Eastern descent a mosque would draw. 'I'm not going to lie to you -- we don't want them,' said one resident living near the property." Mayor Dean Koldenhoven "said he has been surprised at some of the racially tinged comments he's heard from people opposed to the mosque moving into the building. 'It hurts me,' he said. 'Here we are, coming up on Memorial Day. People fought and died for these freedoms; we talk about these freedoms. But then some people decide they're not freedoms for everyone.' "