Judge Gives OK for DuPage Islamic Center - NBC Chicago

Judge Gives OK for DuPage Islamic Center



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    A federal judge has reversed a county board's decision to prevent an Islamic education facility from operating in suburban Chicago.

    In a ruling Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer says she expects the DuPage County Board to approve a request from the Irshad Learning Center.

    The board denied a conditional-use permit for the facility in 2010, after nearly two years of debate. Board members said they were concerned about the center operating in a residential neighborhood.

    Since 2008, an Islamic group has been using the single-family home on Army Trail Road as a place of gathering and worship. The group is seeking a "conditional use" permit that will allow them to operate the property as a prayer center and food pantry and a variance that will allow them to build as many as 30 parking spaces on the site.

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    "I have been waiting for 30 years to have some kind of facility that is near my home that I can go five times a day," said Aziz Sattar.

    But others, fearing a decrease in property values from plopping a commercial property in the middle of a residential area, stand strongly opposed.

    Officials from Irshad filed a federal lawsuit, arguing the board violated their Constitutional right to the free practice of religion.

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    Pallmeyer concludes there was no direct evidence of deliberate discrimination. But she says there's no evidence Irshad would have any more impact than other religious institutions already operating in residential areas.