September 17, 2010

Mayfield Center Initially Granted, Then Denied, Zoning Permit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

MAYFIELD, KY – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Kentucky have agreed to represent Khadar Ahmed, a resident of Mayfield, Kentucky, who was denied a permit last month by the Mayfield Board of Zoning Adjustment to operate a Muslim worship center in the town's central business district. The board had initially approved the permit two weeks earlier, but reversed course and ultimately denied the permit due to "inadequate parking" despite not having heard from a representative of Ahmed. 

"While we appreciate that some in the community have shown support for Mr. Ahmed and the other Muslim residents of Mayfield, local government should not stand in the way of the free exercise of religion," said Michael Aldridge, Executive Director of the ACLU of Kentucky. "The fact that Mr. Ahmed was initially granted a permit and then had it taken away without there being any change in circumstances is troubling."

The ACLU is also concerned about the implications for religious freedom created by the zoning board's actions. "Preventing any group from freely practicing their faith is unlawful and contrary to core American values," said Daniel Mach, Director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief. "While we remain open to alternative avenues of resolution, governmental actions that have the effect of denying individuals the right to practice their religion must be challenged."

Attorneys on the case include Mach and Heather L. Weaver of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, ACLU of Kentucky staff attorney William Sharp and local counsel William Deatherage of Deatherage, Myers & Lackey.

For more information on the ACLU's work defending religious practice and expression, please visit: www.aclu.org/aclu-defense-religious-practice-and-expression

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