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Jewish Journal

Lomita investigated for alleged religious discrimination

by Brad A. Greenberg

November 18, 2011 | 6:07 pm

Lomita, a tiny town in Los Angeles’ South Bay, has been accused of discriminating against a mosque that sought to expand the Islamic Center of the South Bay. The Lomita City Council rejected the proposal for a consolidated worship 4-0 in March of last year, citing neighborhood and traffic concerns. Now the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating whether the city violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Iraj Ershaghi, a founding member of the Islamic Center and manager of the redesign project, said council members faced “a lot of pressure”  from residents to reject the proposal.

“There was a feeling that they just don’t want us there,” Ershaghi said of the March meeting.

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Ershaghi, a USC petroleum engineering professor, said worshipers currently have to walk up to 500 yards to get to different units and restrooms.

“It just doesn’t make sense,” Ershaghi said. “The whole idea was to make this part of Lomita clean. You can see that this case really has nothing to do with the building.”

Mosques and worship centers from other religious minorities are no strangers to rejected building-permit applications. I’ve written about this a few times before. But proving discrimination is no easy burden.

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