Palos Heights Denies Mosque Needed City Approval

May 17, 2005

Source: Daily Southtown

On May 17, 2005 the Daily Southtown reported, "lawyers for Palos Heights told a federal jury Monday a group of Muslims seeking to set up a mosque five years ago never needed the city's permission to do so, and mistakenly allowed municipal government — as well as some admittedly bigoted reactions — to influence what should have been a simple real estate transaction. The city is accused in a federal lawsuit of violating the Muslim group's First Amendment right of religious freedom by thwarting plans to convert a church to a mosque in 2000. The plans for the mosque ignited a political firestorm: Some city council members initially balked at giving the group permission to buy the church, then claimed the city needed the same piece of land, and ultimately offered to give the Muslims money to go away. Lawyers for the mosque group placed much of the blame on former Palos Heights Mayor Dean Koldenhoven, who publicly supported the mosque plan — and has since received national recognition and a prestigious award for his role in the controversy."