Sterling Heights planning commission approves American Muslim Diversity Association expansion

The city was previously sued for blocking a different Muslim organization from building a mosque back in 2016.

exterior of the American Muslim Diversity Association

The Sterling Heights Planning Commission has unanimously given approval to the American Muslim Diversity Association (AMDA) to move forward with plans to expand its building and parking lot. The commission granted AMDA a special use permit to build a gym, banquet hall and classrooms, as well as to create a separate prayer space for women who currently pray in the masjid, the main worship area. The move came after the Sterling Heights Zoning Board of Appeals granted a variance for a new parking lot in September.

I also feel that after that lawsuit that some of the members of community have lost their appetite for trying to discriminate against the Muslims.” —Amy Doukoure, CAIR-MI

“It’s kind of a big deal because we’ve seen, specifically in Sterling Heights, there’s been great animus towards any expansion or any inclusion of the Muslim community and their places of worship within the city,” says Amy Doukoure, a staff attorney for the Council on American-Islamic Relations Michigan (CAIR-MI). CAIR-MI offered up legal assistance to AMDA to help it through the approval process.

Back in 2016, the American Islamic Community Center (AICC) was denied the ability to build a large mosque in Sterling Heights after community pushback. AICC sued Sterling Heights in response and so did the Federal Department of Justice. Both lawsuits resulted in a settlement in favor of the center.


Listen: CAIR-MI attorney Amy Doukoure talks about zoning for the Muslim community in Sterling Heights.

 


Doukore says the City of Sterling Heights has learned a lot since it blocked the AICC from building a masjid in 2016.

“I believe that they’re conducting their hearings in a manner that is more fair and more just and creates a level of precedent for everybody,” says Doukore. “But I also feel like after that lawsuit that some of the members of community have lost their appetite for trying to discriminate against the Muslims. They realize when they’ve done so in the past that it’s cost the city millions of dollars to settle these lawsuits and all of that money comes out of taxpayer dollars.”

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Author

  • Laura Herberg is a Reporter for 101.9 WDET, telling the stories about people inhabiting the Detroit region and the issues that affect us here.