Magazine article The Christian Century

Chicago Suburb Sued over Mosque Issue

Magazine article The Christian Century

Chicago Suburb Sued over Mosque Issue

Article excerpt

The mayor of Palos Heights, Illinois, recently rejected a city council plan to pay a group of Muslims $200,000 not to convert a Protestant church into a mosque. The Reformed Church of Palos Heights has been on the market for two years, but when the Al Salam Mosque Foundation sought to buy it for $2.1 million and convert it into a mosque, city leaders offered to buy the Muslims out and instead use the building for a new community center.

Mayor Dean Koldenhoven rejected the plan, calling it an insult to the community's 450 Muslim families. "Government should have no place in this issue," said the mayor.

Since the controversy erupted several weeks ago, the town has had to face charges of religious bigotry, with some residents declaring Christianity the "one true religion" and Islam "a false religion." Muslims said the incident was fueled by anti-Muslim prejudice because the city had never before made an offer to buy the church.

"If you look inside your hearts, you know you do not want that mosque here," said Edward Hassan, a town resident and Muslim who plans to attend whatever new mosque is built, during a hearing on the issue. …

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