Update: 1:54 p.m. August 16
The City of Sterling Heights says animosity toward Muslims played no role in its decision to unanimously deny a permit to the American Islamic Community Center for a new mosque.
The city says its decision was based solely on "established land use criteria."
The American Islamic Community Center is suing Sterling Heights for denying it a permit to the American Islamic Community Center to build a mosque.
The lawsuit claims the permit denial was a violation of the U.S. Constitution and the federal Religious Land Use Act.
Attorney Azzam Elder says the city appeared poised to approve the permit last year, until anti-Muslim residents objected at a hearing.
"It just erupted with some residents against a mosque," says Elder, "and regrettably city officials played along with the sentiment, and they unanimously denied the permit for the mosque."
Elder says it's distressing to see Sterling Heights turn against its own citizens.
"The Muslim community in the city of Sterling Heights dates back 50 years," he says. "They're educators, they're U.S. veterans, they're UAW workers, doctors and much more."
Sterling Heights says it hasn't had a chance to review the allegations and can't comment.