Is anti-Muslim bias an issue in rejection of Minnesota Islamic center plan?

Eight months ago, the St. Anthony City Council denied a Christian congregation’s proposal to move to a building in an area zoned for light-industrial use. Last week, the council struck down an attempt to locate an Islamic center in a similarly zoned area. City leaders say their actions were consistent, based on land-use issues and not religious discrimination.

But supporters of the center wonder whether discrimination was a factor in the council’s rejection, and they point to the hateful comments directed at the Muslims by a few residents at a recent council meeting.

In addition, both religious groups are made up primarily of dark-skinned, native Africans. Census data show that only about 400 of St. Anthony’s 8,000 residents are black, and none sits on the City Council. Would a white Lutheran congregation’s petition have been approved?

The answers aren’t clear-cut, which was why it was prudent for the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations to ask the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate.

Editorial in Star Tribune, 19 June 2012