The U.S. Justice Department is suing officials in Sterling Heights for denying a group the right to build a mosque in the city.
Justice officials allege Sterling Heights illegally discriminated against the American Islamic Community Center last year.
Federal officials accuse the city of violating the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, arguing that Sterling Heights refused to approve the new mosque based on religious grounds and placed an undue burden on the group’s ability to practice its faith.
The federal lawsuit mentions that public comments on the proposed mosque included cries to remember 9/11 and that a mosque would hurt property values in the neighborhood.
The Islamic Center filed its own federal lawsuit over the matter in August.
Sterling Heights officials counter that they denied a permit to build a mosque because of issues like the size of the proposed building and a lack of sufficient parking, not because of the group’s religious beliefs.