WND, by Bob Unruh, August 2, 2017:
A New Jersey township that was sued by Muslims for refusing to approve a massive mosque project is returning to court because of a settlement agreement that restricts speech regarding Islam.
The settlement required the township to hold a public meeting about the mosque project, but it forbade anyone from commenting on “Islam” or “Muslims.”
A key tenet of Shariah, the Muslim law that governs both personal and political life, bans any negative comments about Islam or Muslims.
According to the Thomas More Law Center, which sued the township on behalf of two residents whose home is within 200 feet of the proposed mega-mosque, the settlement with Bernards Township “reads more like an instrument of surrender.”
The Islamic Society of Basking Ridge sued and won a decision in federal court after its mosque proposal was rejected based on traffic and other concerns.
The Township agreed on a $3.5 million payment and a “public hearing to approve the settlement.”
Residents Christopher and Loretta Quick challenged the agreement in court, arguing it restricts speech and violates the Establishment Clause by preferring Islam over other religions.
“The Quicks reside within 200 feet of the proposed mosque construction in a zoned residential area,” Thomas More explained. “Yet, the settlement agreement prohibits them from describing the many unique features of Islamic worship which will impact design of the building, traffic density, water and sewage, traffic control problems, road construction, and parking arrangements. According to the settlement agreement, ISBR is permitted to make statements concerning Christians and Jews and their places of worship, but in contrast, the agreement prohibits commentary relating to Islam or Muslims. In fact, ISBR has previously discussed the Christian and Jewish religions and their places of worship.”
Richard Thompson, chief counsel for Thomas More, said the Islamic center “has taken the extraordinary step of concealing significant links on their website to a radical group named by the federal government as an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism financing trial in America history, the Islamic Society of North America (‘ISNA’).”
“ISNA is claimed by the Muslim Brotherhood as one of ‘our organizations.’ According to internal documents seized by the FBI, the Muslim Brotherhood’s strategy is to engage in a ‘grand jihad in eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within,’” said Thompson.
He said that while “claiming that the township had a religious animus against Muslims, ISBR hid from the public view its animus toward Christians and Jews, by not only hiding anti-Christian and anti-Semitic verses published on its website, but also hiding its significant ties to ISNA.”
“Instead of standing up to defend its citizens against ISBR’s hate-filled anti-Semitic and anti-Christian bias, the township colluded with ISBR’s ‘Civilization Jihad’ by capitulating to payment of millions of dollars to ISBR, allowing the construction of the new mosque and Islamic center in violation of zoning codes, and now even suppressing speech concerning Islam or Muslims at a public meeting,” Thompson said.
IslamThreat.com estimates there were nearly 3,200 mosques in the United States as of 2015, with a massive surge following the 9/11 terror attack by Muslims.
The website lists 525 mosques in California, 507 in New York, 302 in Texas, 200 in Illinois and 186 in Florida.
The Islamic center sued the township when officials refused to permit a huge project on a lot critics contend is far too small. Later, U.S. Department of Justice, then under Barack Obama, also sued the township.
The new complaint argues the First Amendment provides no open door for governments to issue blanket censorship orders on speech.
“Defendants … have put in place a prior restraint on speech that bans citizens from engaging in free speech at a public hearing on political matters because of the content,” the complaint asserts.
“The settlement agreement further allows defendants to forbid speech with which they or others disagree.”
Further, the fact that the agreement doesn’t provide the same protections to Christians, Jews and others means that “defendants have shown preference for Islam and Muslims over other religions.”
The complaint seeks a declaration that the residents’ constitutional rights are being violated, preliminary and permanent injunctions against the agreement, and damages.
WND reported earlier this year citizens fought back after the personal communications of critics of the Basking Ridge project were subpoenaed in the case.
Neighborhood residents, including Lori Caratzola, were named by ISBR in its lawsuit as a fervent opponent of the mosque. Caratzola faced demands for all of her personal communications that mention Muslims, Islam, mosques, the Quran, imams, burkas, hijabs, Shariah, jihad and other features of Islam.
“ISBR is setting a dangerous unconstitutional precedent by abusing a court process to chill and trample on the First Amendment rights of private citizens whose only involvement was to speak out against the mosque at public hearings,” Thompson said at the time.
He asked for the subpoenas to be thrown out “because the U.S. Supreme Court has held that speech at a public place on a matter of public concern is entitled to special protection.”
Caratzola charged the Muslims’ intent with her was “to embarrass, strike fear, silence and cause financial harm to any citizen who dared oppose his nonconforming project.”