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.
BOSTON — As a young soldier in Bosnia, Azem Dervisevic led a platoon that helped keep the capital city of Sarajevo from falling to Serb forces during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war.
Now, as a civilian in the Boston area, Dervisevic is still fighting for his homeland, but with culture instead of bullets.
In June, he helped found the New England Friends of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a group that helped organize a recent art exhibit, “Bosnian Born,” featuring the work of more than 20 Muslim, Serb and Croat artists born in Bosnia.
The group also inaugurated its first semester of Bosnian language classes, with a dozen students between 6 and 9 years old. Dervisevic hopes it will promote Bosnian culture, encourage reconciliation between Bosnia’s different ethnic groups, and preserve the history of the war that introduced the term “ethnic cleansing.”
Despite their relatively short time in America and the ghosts of war, Bosnian Muslims are largely well integrated and often thriving in American society. Many have become physicians, university professors, business owners and financiers. Their children, like the children of most immigrant groups, are poised to do even better.
On request of the great number of media to comment the result of Swiss minaret ban, Dr. Mustafa Ceric, Grand Mufti of Bosnia, made the following statement:
“It is interesting that Switzerland has chosen the greatest Muslim holiday (Eid al Adha, The Festival of Sacrifice) to demonstrate to Muslims its might, or better said, its impotence in respecting human rights as fundamental postulates of the system of European values. I am not burdened by conspiracy theory, but the interesting thing is that we the native peoples of Europe, Bosnians and Albanians, simultaneously at the time of Eid al Adha, our Festival of Sacrifice, receive the news of being exempt from visa-free travel system in European Union, and that the Swiss on their referendum voted in favour of the ban for minarets,” – said the Bosnian
Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric commenting the recent Swiss referendum. “Having in mind that Bosnian Muslims have the experience of genocide, which is so fresh and so deep in their memory, the issue of minarets in Switzerland is important, but for them it is more important to have secured the right to live in Europe and the right to freedom from fear for the future of their children. Unfortunately, both messages – the first from the Brussels that we are less worthy than our neighbors Serbians, Montenegrins, Macedonians and Croats, and the second that comes these days from Switzerland, that our religious and cultural symbols are undesirable – are
not encouraging and do not speak about Europe in which all humans and all
peoples have equal rights and equal respect. Obviously Europe is, apart from
being in huge economic, also in deep moral crisis. If it is aware of, then Europe instead of sinking deeper into the crisis should see in European Muslims the partners for both economic as well as moral recovery. We hope that Europe will soon realize it and return to its own values of human rights, which by the voted ban on minarets in Switzerland and by denying visa-free travel to only Bosnians and Albanians, its only native Muslim peoples, heavily undermined!’ – stated Mustafa Ceric, Grand Mufti of Bosnia.”