The Al Falah Center brought suit yesterday against Bridgewater Township (NJ), seeking to compel the town to allow Al Falah to move forward with plans to renovate an existing building so it could be used as a mosque and community center. These plans were derailed recently when the Township suddenly altered its zoning laws, transforming the applicable zoning for the proposed mosque property to prohibit rather than permit development of a house of worship.
The complaint, which was filed in federal district court in New Jersey on Tuesday, alleges that the new zoning ordinance prevents members of the Muslim community from freely exercising their religion and discriminates against them on the basis of religion. After a years-long search to find a suitable location to establish a mosque and Islamic community center, Muslims from Bridgewater and surrounding communities finally identified an ideal location — a former banquet hall in Bridgewater. For months the Al Falah Center worked with township officials to develop a suitable plan to renovate the building, which was located in a zone permitting houses of worship, into a mosque to serve the surrounding area as a house of worship, day care, religious school, and community center.