Palos Heights Mosque Trial Heats Up

May 18, 2005

Source: Daily Southtown

On May 18, 2005 the Daily Southtown reported, "a former Palos Heights alderman who spearheaded an effort to give a group of Muslims money so they wouldn't convert a church to a mosque five years ago testified Tuesday he had nothing but 'fiscal responsibility' in mind when he made the offer. Former Ald. Jim Murphy was called to testify as a hostile witness by attorneys for the Al Salam Mosque Foundation, which sued Palos Heights for violating the group's First Amendment right of religious freedom in the highly publicized 2000 mosque fracas. Attorneys for the mosque group have told jurors at the federal trial, which started Monday, that city officials made it impossible for the group to finalize a real-estate contract to purchase the Christian Reformed Church of Palos Heights at 6600 W. 127th Street. Lawyers for Palos Heights maintain the Muslim group never needed to come to the city for permission to change the church into a mosque, and should have just completed the purchase and simply moved in. In a salty exchange that sometimes lapsed into a shouting match with mosque foundation attorney Gregory Kulis, Murphy at first denied he worked with another alderman to kill the mosque plans the moment they heard of them. Mosque foundation representatives approached the city with their plans at a zoning committee meeting in May 2000, but Murphy was confronted with records showing aldermen had heard of the proposed church purchase before then and discussed it at an earlier meeting."