Dawud Walid

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The U.S. Department of Justice is suing a suburban Michigan township for denying a zoning permit for an Islamic school. 

Pittsfield Charter Township denied a zoning change to the Michigan Islamic Academy back in 2011.

Township officials said at the time they turned down the request because of concerns that the school would add traffic to an already heavily congested road. But school officials believed their religion played a role.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

DETROIT – A Michigan Muslim civil rights leader is among many worldwide insisting that Islamic State extremists don't speak for his religion.

Dawud Walid said Friday that headlines about the group's beheadings and other atrocities committed in the name of Islam frustrate his work as director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations' Michigan chapter.

In the lead up to the November elections we’re hearing a lot about different voting blocs.

Well, the Michigan Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has released a detailed presidential election summary and legislative scorecard focused on issues of concern for Muslims here in Michigan.

State Representative Dave Agema (R-Grandville) is suing officials with the City of Allegan, Allegan Public Schools, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and People for the American Way for allegedly violating his rights to free speech and assembly.

The case stems from an event scheduled at Allegan High School in late January 2012. The evening's guest was billed as a former Muslim terrorist who converted to Christianity.

Police shut the event down; citing safety concerns. But Agema says there were no safety threats.

A city attorney declined to comment for the story. But said this in a written statement:

“This lawsuit is disappointing in many ways.  It is based on conjecture, logical fallacies, and, more disappointingly, factual inaccuracies.  The plaintiffs did not even spell one of the defendants’ names correctly.  It is disappointing that the lawsuit wrongly imputes motives to the police officers.”

The lawsuit names the city manager, police chief and other officers in their official capacities and as individuals. 

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Many American Muslims are concerned that the upcoming 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks will prompt renewed attacks on their faith.

The Michigan chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) tried to counter that, with a workshop about “Presenting Islam to Fellow Americans.”

Presenters suggested Muslims speak from personal experience, and emphasize commonalities between Islam and other religious traditions.

They also addressed how Muslims should react to concerns about Sharia law.