Islamic group sues Des Plaines for rejecting planned mosque

Another federal court battle is brewing over a northwest suburb’s refusal this summer to let a 160-member Islamic group open a mosque in a vacant building in an industrial area.

The lawsuit filed Monday against Des Plaines and five of its aldermen is the latest to take on a “knee-jerk reaction to something Islamic or Muslim,” said Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Chicago.

His group helped win a $445,000 settlement from DuPage County in a similar case earlier this year. Now, it’s backing the case brought by the American Islamic Center and its attorney, Tony Peraica.

“We believe this was done for discriminatory reasons,” Peraica said.

Des Plaines officials either declined to comment Monday or failed to return calls from the Sun-Times.

Nearly all of the American Islamic Center’s members are Bosnian refugees from the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to its lawsuit. It said it entered a contract in February to buy an empty office building on 1.8 acres of land at 1645 Birchwood Ave., for religious and educational activities.