Local leaders will discuss their concern that a calculated campaign of Islamophobia and fear mongering have influenced public officials and misinformed the general public. The coalition will discuss opposition to mosques including in Illinois, rising levels of anti-Muslim bigotry and hate crimes.
A measure that could streamline the process of establishing places of worship and other forms of assembly in unincorporated DuPage County is heading to the zoning panel that recently has taken up two zoning proposals from Islamic groups.
CAIR-Chicago Staff Attorney Kevin Vodak talks to the Naperville Sun about recent developments in the Irshad Learning Center’s lawsuit against Dupage County.
CAIR-Chicago will be taking part in two lectures this weekend at the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) convention. The convention is the largest annual gathering of Muslims in North America; over 30,000 people are expected to attend this year.
The Naperville Sun’s Susan Carlman illustrates a regular day for congregants at the Irshad Learning Center. The ILC recently made headlines when the DuPage County Board rejected their request for a zoning permit to build an Islamic School. CAIR-Chicago is suing DuPage county on the ILC’s behalf.
[CAIR-Chicago Staff Attorney Kevin Vodak] said the group followed proper procedures over the 17 months of meetings and hearings that preceded his office being retained.
“Throughout the process, they were attempting to provide (concessions) in the hope of appeasing the neighbors,” Vodak said. “They expended a lot of effort and funds trying to get that done.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations filed the suit in federal court in Chicago on behalf of the Irshad Learning Center, which had been proposed for a 2.91-acre site on 75th Street between Wehrli Road and Naper Boulevard in an unincorporated area near Naperville.
CAIR-Chicago Staff Attorney Kevin Vodak maintains that Irshad was treated differently than not only other religious institutions, but many secular institutions as well.
“DuPage County needs to be held accountable for this violation of state and federal law,” Vodak said.
Vodak indicated that comments made by ZBA members and protesters at County Board meetings left no doubt in his mind that religious bigotry played a part in denying Irshad the conditional permit it sought.
“the fight’s not over, and they will try to appeal the decision,” Amina Sharif, the nonprofit’s communications coordinator, said. “We are concerned that anti-Muslim sentiments expressed during the meeting may have wrongly influenced the decision,” she said. “That is something that concerns us, and that we may challenge.”
“We fear that the board may have acted on improper factors in rejecting the Irshad Learning Center’s permit, and we will continue to pursue this matter in hopes of achieving a just resolution,” said Kevin Vodak, attorney with the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which will be representing Irshad as it considers appealing the county’s ruling.