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CAIR-Chicago Wins Judgment For Muslim Center's Freedom Of Religion

Muslim civil rights group to hold news conference today on judge's ruling

CHICAGO, April 1, 2013 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR- Chicago) today welcomed the decision by District Court Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer granting summary judgment to the civil rights organization's client, Irshad Learning Center, an Islamic religious institution primarily serving the Iranian community.

[ MEDIA ADVISORY: CAIR- Chicago will hold a news conference on the ruling TODAY at 3:30 p.m. (Central) in its office at 17 N. State Street, Suite 1500, Chicago, Illinois. CONTACT: CAIR- Chicago, 312.212.1520 or 202.870.0166.]

Irshad Learning Center (ILC) applied for a zoning permit to use a former school in unincorporated DuPage County as a mosque and Islamic school. The DuPage County Board denied the permit without explanation in January 2010.

While the Zoning Board of Appeals (the first governmental entity to consider the petition) repeatedly recommended denying the permit, the County Development Committee supported ILC's petition with various conditions. 

CAIR- Chicago filed a lawsuit against the county and members of the board on behalf of ILC on April 8, 2010.

ILC's complaint alleged violations of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as well as state constitutional and zoning law.

After defeating the county's attempt to dismiss the lawsuit in March 2011, CAIR- Chicago's Litigation Director Kevin Vodak engaged in extensive discovery, reviewing thousands of pages of documents, deposing more than a dozen county officials, and retaining an expert witness, a planning and zoning consultant who has almost 40 years of experience in land planning. ILC officers and their prior zoning counsel were also deposed.

Both CAIR- Chicago and the county sought summary judgment in the matter, requesting a decision from the court before proceeding to a jury trial.

On Friday, Judge Pallmeyer issued a 70-page decision granting judgment in favor of ILC on claims under RLUIPA's substantial burden provision, the First Amendment, the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and state zoning law. 

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