NEW YORK – The United States Justice Department is taking the Bensalem township in Pennsylvania to court after its municipal board’s denied a zoning application to a mosque and effectively barred its construction. The lawsuit, which was filed on Thursday, accuses the town’s officials of discriminating against the local Muslim organization on the basis of religion.
Members of the local Muslim community sought to build a mosque after years of renting a local fire hall to carry out worship services. In 2012, the Bensalem Masjid organization met with elected officials to discuss options for building a 17,000-square-foot mosque on land adjacent to the township.
But the board, which ultimately rejected the application in a 4-0 vote, treated other groups “more favorably than it treated the Bensalem’s Masjid’s application throughout the variance process.”