On Tuesday, President Barack Obama’s Department of Justice announced that it would be suing Bernards Township, New Jersey, for denying the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge zoning approval to build a mosque on land it already owns, according to the Washington Examiner.
Although the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge was reportedly pleased, the township claimed that the cards were stacked against it.
The Township believes that the DOJ has been biased in its investigation, according to NBC.
The Bernards Township Committee made a statement last week regarding the incident, alleging not only bias but previous relationships between the DOJ and ISBR President Dr. Ali Chaudry.
“Staff, professionals and planning board and township committee members complied with the DOJ investigation and submitted to numerous and lengthy interviews,” the statement read.
“The township strongly believes the DOJ investigation, including the interviews, was not conducted in an objective manner designed to seek the truth, but rather only to support and bolster the ongoing ISBR civil lawsuit,” the statement continued.
Although a cynic might point out that it was not uncommon for people who believed that they were being treated unfairly to cry “favoritism,” in this particular case it was certainly possible.
“The DOJ did not disclose to the township the existence of a relationship between plaintiff Mohammad Ali Chaudry and one of the lead DOJ investigators, Caroline Sadlowski, chief of the civil division in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey,” the statement pointed out.
The township had to learn of the prior relationship via the internet.
“The township … learned when it conducted an internet search that the plaintiff and Ms. Sadlowski have been serving together on a board at Drew University, the Center for Religious and Cultural Conflicts. The DOJ dismissed the township’s concern as irrelevant to the investigation.”
There are many things that a relationship between two lead elements of an investigation can be, but “irrelevant” is not one of them. Now the township is being stonewalled.
“The township submitted requests under the Freedom of Information Act for any information or communications related to the Chaudry/Sadlowski relationship. The DOJ has repeatedly refused to provide any information,” the statement read.
Dr. Ali Chaudry, president of the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge, was pleased with the turn of events, saying in a statement that the “filing by the Department of Justice comes after a lengthy investigation that started in March,” according to News 12 New Jersey.
“It addresses why Bernards Township denied our mosque application, and it eviscerates the township’s claim that the denial was based on legitimate land uses. Our community deserves its own place to pray and we will ensure we get it by standing up for our constitutional rights in court,” he stated.
The right to religious freedom is essential to our country. However, there’s something off here about the manner in which the investigation proceeded.
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