Posted on January 5, 2022

Judge Orders Mississippi City to Allow Mosque Construction

Emily Wagster Pettus, Associated Press, January 4, 2022

A new federal court order says a Mississippi city must allow construction of a mosque, two months after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a discrimination lawsuit against the city on behalf of two Muslim men who want to develop the place of worship.

The lawsuit said Horn Lake officials were motivated by anti-Muslim prejudice when the city rejected a zoning request for what would be the first mosque in DeSoto County, Mississippi, which is just south of Memphis, Tennessee.

Hours after the lawsuit was filed in early November, U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills wrote that the suit presented “very serious, and if proven factually accurate, strong allegations of religious discrimination.”

On Monday, Mills filed a consent decree in favor of the plaintiffs, Maher Abuirshaid and Riyadh Elkhayyat, with agreement from them and city officials. {snip}


In early 2021, the Horn Lake planning commission recommended that the site plan for the mosque be denied, and the Board of Aldermen voted 5-1 in April to uphold that recommendation. Aldermen said they denied the application because of concerns about insufficient water supply for fire sprinklers and the possibility of traffic and noise.

Numerous residents near the potential mosque site spoke against the project during a city planning meeting.

The lawsuit said city officials “did not work very hard to hide the true reason they denied approval for the project — anti-Muslim prejudice.”

“As then-Alderman John E. Jones Jr. told the local newspaper: ‘I don’t care what they say, their religion says they can lie or do anything to the Jews or gentiles because we’re not Muslims,'” said the lawsuit {snip}