Horn Lake ordered to approve mosque in federal anti-Muslim bias lawsuit

Co-founders of Abraham House of God: Riyadh Elkhayyat and  Maher Abuirshaid
Co-founders of Abraham House of God: Riyadh Elkhayyat and Maher Abuirshaid(American Civil Liberties Union -- Mississippi)
Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 9:19 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 4, 2022 at 9:29 AM CST
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HORN LAKE, Miss. (WMC) - A lawsuit filed against the City of Horn Lake for denying a proposed mosque resulted in the approval of construction permits for the first mosque ever in DeSoto County, Mississippi.

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU-Mississippi and Simpson Thacher filed the lawsuit in November 2021 on behalf of the mosque co-founders, Riyadh Elkhayyat and Maher Abuirshaid, claiming the denial for zoning was due to anti-Muslim bias.

The lawsuit also noted that the city was violating the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act that provides protections for places of worship, according to ACLU-Mississippi.

On Monday night, the court entered a consent decree requiring Horn Lake officials to approve the mosque and pay the co-founders $25,000 for expenses regarding the appeal and costs associated with the lawsuit.

Quotes from the co-founders suggest they are ready to get the mosque, Abraham House of God, up and running.

“We are heartened and relieved that we are able to move ahead with our plans for a mosque in Horn Lake, which will provide a critical local house of worship for my family and other Muslims in the community to gather and practice our faith freely and without discrimination,” said Elkhayyat.

“We look forward to having the opportunity to join the wonderful fabric of the Horn Lake religious community and are thankful to the court for facilitating this resolution that addresses everything we had hoped to achieve.”

You can read the lawsuit in full below:

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