Recently some residents in Farmington filed a lawsuit against the Farmington School Board for authorizing the sale of Eagle Elementary to the Islamic Cultural Association (ICA). While the ICA was successful in their bid, Pittsfield Township-based Michigan Islamic Academy (MIA) was rejected by their city's planning commission on their rezoning request to build a school in a case has also left many wondering about possible discrimination.
Those opposing the sale of the ICA are accused of bias towards Muslims. During a school board meeting in June several protested the sale and made testimonies regarded as hate messages by many. The lawsuit alleges marketing studies were not exercised during the sale and the board never allowed other potential buyers the opportunity to make offers on the school which was on the verge of being demolished at the time.
On Thursday a vote was held by the Pittsfield Planning Commission to deny a rezoning request from the MIA to build an Islamic school on a piece of property the group purchased. The Pittsfield Township Board of Trustees has the final authority and is expected to vote on the issue at an upcoming meeting according to a news report.
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) of Michigan is representing the MIA as a legal counsel and sent a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) expressing concern that Pittsfield Township violated First Amendment rights and infringed on the civil rights of Muslims when it rejected the MIA’s application to build an Islamic school.
CAIR-Michigan Staff Attorney Lena Masri says the MIA’s current facility is not large enough to accommodate all its students. She said similar situations are occurring across the nation where Muslim groups face obstacles when attempting to build schools or centers.
CAIR requested the presence of the Muslim community at Thursday night’s vote hoping it would send a strong message to the Pittsfield Township Planning Commission that Michigan Muslims will stand up for their basic democratic rights. Those opposing the school say they are concerned about traffic and neighborhood safety.