City denies proposed Islamic cemetery, Muslims allege discrimination in Dakota County

The Minnesota Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) joined community leaders at a press conference Monday to call on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate allegations of anti-Muslim bias after the denial of a proposed Islamic cemetery in Dakota County, Minn.

On Aug. 11, 2014, the Castle Rock Township board rejected an application submitted by the original property owner for a proposed Islamic Cemetery in the city. According to CAIR-MN, the original owner attempted to appeal the denial, but the board took the position that an appeal was not permitted.

"It is truly a sad day when Minnesota Muslims are denied their final resting place simply because of their faith,” CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein said.

At the time of applications, CAIR said the cemetery was a permitted use in the zoning area in question, and met all conditions set by the Castle Rock Planning Commission.

“After the denial of the conditional use permit for the Islamic cemetery, the Castle Rock Township Board changed the zoning ordinance so that cemeteries were no longer a permitted use in the zoning area where the land is located,” CAIR stated in a press release.

CAIR-MN is asking federal authorities to determine whether the rejection was discriminatory on the basis of religion, and whether it constitutes a violation of the the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act -- RLUIPA protects religious institutions from “unduly burdensome or discriminatory land use regulations.”

The Al Maghfirah Cemetery Association also filed a lawsuit in Minnesota State District Court in Dakota County.