Attorneys suing a Mississippi city over denying a permit to build a Muslim mosque say they hope officials will resolve the matter without going to court.
According to the complaint filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, there are no Muslim mosques in DeSoto County, leaving worshippers to drive to Memphis. Legal Director Attorney Joshua Tom says the two plaintiffs seeking to build one in Horn Lake, were denied a permit despite meeting and exceeding the the site plan requirements. He says the proposed mosque, the Abraham House of God, would be on a street already zoned for houses of worship.
“There’s quite a few churches on Church Road that runs in Southaven and Horn Lake, so it’s pretty interesting to drive down that road and see all the churches and you know ironic, they’re not going to allow a similar house of worship on the same street,” Tom said.
At an April 2021 meeting posted on Facebook, aldermen voted to support the planning commission’s decision to deny the permit. Former Alderman John Jones expressed concerns about the mosque leading to more traffic and violating noise ordinances. He also had this to say.
“And if you let them build it they will come so I think we need to stop it before it gets here,” Jones said.
Attorney Joshua Tom contends Jones remarks were based on anti-Muslim sentiment. He adds similar comments were made by community members at other city meetings.
“It’s just not what our country was built on and we want to make sure that our clients are able to practice their religion freely and build a mosque in Horn Lake as they have every right to do,” Tom said.
The ACLU lists the City of Horn Lake, the planning commission, aldermen and the mayor in his official capacity in the lawsuit. Horn Lake City Attorney Billy Campbell has not responded to MPB’s request for comment.