Muslim Prayer Space Granted Permit In Kentucky

Affiliate: ACLU of Kentucky
November 9, 2010 3:42 pm

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Decision Follows Appeal From ACLU And ACLU Of Kentucky

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MAYFIELD, KY – The Mayfield, Kentucky zoning board voted unanimously today to grant a permit to a local resident to operate a Muslim prayer room in the town's central business district. Khadar Ahmed had been granted a permit in August, only to have it revoked two weeks later after members of the local community objected. Ahmed appealed the denial with the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Kentucky.

"We are extremely pleased that the zoning board has granted Mr. Ahmed and the Mayfield Muslim community their right to freely exercise their religion," said Michael Aldridge, Executive Director of the ACLU of Kentucky. "There was no reason for the board to go back on its original decision to grant the permit. We're glad that, in the end, the board came to the right decision."

Previously, the board had denied Ahmed a permit due to "inadequate parking," despite no change in parking conditions since the board's original approval. Neither Ahmed nor anyone acting as his representative was present when the permit was denied.

"This is a victory for religious liberty, one of our most important founding principles," said Heather L. Weaver, staff attorney for the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief. "The constitutional guarantee of religious freedom applies to people of all faiths, and we are pleased that Mr. Ahmed's rights have been restored."

The controversy in Mayfield was one of many efforts around the country in recent years to impede the rights of Muslims to establish and operate a place to gather together for worship and prayer, and arose just before the tenth anniversary of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, a civil rights law passed by Congress which the ACLU helped write to help religious groups and individuals overcome such obstacles.

Attorneys on the case include Weaver and Daniel Mach 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.

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