DETROIT — Pittsfield Township planners have denied the Michigan Islamic Academy’s request to rezone property where the school wants to locate, prompting a Muslim civil rights organization to ask federal officials to investigate, The Detroit News reported.
In a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Michigan branch of the Council on American Islamic Relations asked officials to consider whether the school’s religious rights are being violated, according to The News.
Dawud Walid, CAIR-Michigan executive director, said that township planning commission members cited traffic concerns and a “disruption of neighborhood harmony” as reasons for denying the request, but that it is concerned that opposition by local residents “negatively influenced” the decision, The News reported.
Walid said in the letter that in other cases nationally, planners have cited traffic or neighborhood concerns “to provide legal cover” for denials based on prejudice, The News reported. CAIR-Michigan wants a Justice Department representative to attend the next meeting on the subject in August, according to The News.
Pittsfield Township Supervisor Mandy Grewal told The News that the community is “very diverse,” as is membership on boards and commissions.
The Academy is a 300-pupil school that has outgrown its Ann Arbor site, The News reported.
The Detroit News, “Civil rights group asks feds to monitor Pittsfield decision on Muslim school,” July 25, 2011
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Adding private schools to the school choice debate,” June 7, 2010