The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has begun monitoring eight separate cases of alleged discrimination against Muslims under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) since May 2010, according to a report issued Tuesday.
“We see a spike, regrettably,” said Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez in a speech before the American Constitution Society. A spokeswoman declined to name the individual investigations, but confirmed that the department was monitoring those cases and had not yet opened full investigations.The report on RLUIPA, which covers the use of land by religious institutions as well as the rights of institutionalized persons to practice their faith, was issued on the 10th anniversary of the passage of the act.
Controversies over the construction of Mosques — most notably over the Islamic cultural center in Manhattan — have flared up around the country in recent months. In Tennessee, opponents of the construction of a Mosque have filed a lawsuit to prevent it from being built. The FBI and ATF are investigating a case of arson following a heated debate over the proposed religious center. In California, individuals opposed to the building of a Mosque were asked to bring their dogs to a protest. Another controversy sprung up in Wisconsin.
In all, 18 cases of alleged discrimination against Muslims have been monitored under RLUIPA in the past decade — meaning DOJ has monitored almost as many situations in the past five months as it had in the previous nine and a half years.
Seven full investigations involving a variety of faiths have been opened since the beginning of 2010, said Perez.
“Many of our investigations have served to educate local officials about their obligations under RLUIPA, and have led to changed policies without litigation becoming necessary,” Perez said. “We would rather educate than litigate whenever possible.”
The report is embedded below.