By Thomas Madison

In a unanimous decision, the Sterling Heights, Michigan Planning Commission voted to deny the construction of a planned mosque, which was widely protested by local residents.

Emphasizing that their decision was based upon “objective land criteria, not religious beliefs,” the commission made the announcement to the massive crowd assembled, which immediately erupted in cheering and chanting “God Bless America,” making their own clear statement.

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Across the street from the proposed construction site, signs made clear the community’s feelings about a mosque in their neighborhood: “We don’t want it!!!’ and ‘build it elsewhere!”

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Yeah, like Canada!

From Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press

After weeks of contentious debate, the planning commission of Sterling Heights voted 9-0 Thursday night to reject building a mosque on 15 Mile between Ryan and Mound roads.

City Planner Donald Mende said the mosque was too tall for the location and not suited for the residential area. Many residents agreed with him, speaking out before the vote.

But Jaafar Chehab, a board member of the proposed American Islamic Community Center, said before the vote: “Not allowing this mosque to be built is a violation of my Constitutional rights…Denying me a house of worship in the place I live is unacceptable..We have the right to build a mosque.”

Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor has said he opposes building the mosque on that location on 15 Mile, but added that he wants to allow the Muslim community to build a mosque in another location in the city. The debate saw tensions emerge between some Iraqi-American Christians and some Arab-American Muslims, with both accusing each other of being extremists.

About 12 percent of Sterling Heights is Iraqi-American, most of them Christian. The mosque would have been built in an area with many Iraqi-American Christian stores and centers.

In a statement Thursday night, Taylor said:

“Sterling Heights will continue to foster faith-based inclusiveness and understanding with local partners including our city’s school districts, religious organizations and other community groups…Sterling Heights is a vibrant, inclusive community for residents and businesses that is safe, active, progressive and distinctive. Inclusiveness will continue to be a guiding principle in all that we do.”