MAS Victory in Protecting the Right to Build Islamic Center

In what has been described as a major victory for religious freedom and civil rights, the Muslim American Society and its Freedom Foundation have assisted the Islamic Society of Boston in achieving a major victory and settling a four-year legal battle which attempted to stop the building of the largest Islamic center on the East coast.
The Islamic Society of Boston's Cultural Center, which is being constructed in the Roxbury section of Boston, had been under a multi-level campaign of negative reporting and disinformation. These efforts resulted in a lawsuit initiated by the David Project, and filed by James Policastro. The lawsuit sought to stop the completion of the Islamic center. Consequently, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of the ISB against the David Project, Inc., Citizens for Peace and Tolerance and other related defendants. Today, the Muslim American Society, America's largest grassroots Muslim organization, announced that the ISB, the David Project, Inc., and Citizens for Peace and Tolerance, have ended all litigations against each other including James Policastro's suit against the Boston Redevelopment Authority, Roxbury Community College and the Islamic Society of Boston.
MAS and its Freedom Foundation was instrumental in bringing together various religious communities in the Boston area and developing an outreach strategy that focused on embracing diversity and fostering mutual respect and trust. "As MAS, we were able to overcome tremendous efforts and resources that had been expended towards stopping the construction of the mosque. I think that this settlement is indicative of the fact that we achieved our overall goals of protecting religious freedom and Muslim's civil rights by providing factual information about the ISB, and Muslim houses of worship, reducing tensions between various communities, and complying with the express wishes of the Boston's Mayor Thomas M. Menino, for all sides to come to some type of negotiated settlement", stated M. Bilal Kaleem. The settlement prevents any further legal action by the defendants to stopping the building of the mosque and re-affirms MAS' basic principle for the respect and sanctity of all houses of worship. The construction of the mosque is ongoing, and on June 9 there will be a special celebration for the capping of the minaret (top most portion).
MAS outreach efforts on behalf of the ISB settlement was supported by a diverse coalition which included the Jewish Workman's Circle, Father Helmick (a specialist in conflict resolution) American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Tekiah, the Boston Tikkun Community, Community Change, Inc., The Diocese of St. Francis of Assisi, the Massachusetts Chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, United for Justice and Peace, Cambridge United for Justice and Peace, Clarendon Church and Dorchester People for Peace, and The Muslim Public Affairs Council.
The new ISB Cultural Center will provide a place of worship to the ever-expanding Muslim population in the area, and serve as an educational resource to universities and other educational institutions. Additionally, the mosque will house an inter-religious center that will focus on interfaith dialog, research and positive engagement between diverse faith traditions.



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.