Court rejects appeal in mosque controversy

WEST BLOOMFIELD (AP) -- The Michigan Supreme Court won't get involved in a dispute over the sale of a school for an Islamic community center, a project that has attracted opposition in suburban Detroit.

The brief order released Saturday means a September decision by the appeals court will stand. The appeals court said critics of the sale had no standing to sue the Farmington school district in Oakland County.

The Islamic Cultural Association bought the vacant Eagle Elementary School in West Bloomfield Township in 2011. Some residents claimed the deal was somehow corrupt and hidden from the public. Supporters have said opponents are unfairly targeting Muslims.

The group was working with the West Bloomfield Planning Commission on plans for the site, but the application was withdrawn last year for more work. Attorney Shareef Akeel said there still are many decisions about the building before the project is submitted again.

"The goal is to build a community center, which includes a praying area or mosque, classrooms for adult education, a community gymnasium. There are cost considerations," Akeel said.

Jim Manna, who sits on the West Bloomfield Planning Commission, said he's keeping an open mind but believes parking could be a problem. He also doubts that critics will go away.

"Some of the fear is fear of Islam. A lot of people just don't want a mosque in the area," Manna said. "Fear shouldn't play a part in our decision-making."

Published: Tue, Feb 5, 2013