Feds Open Probe After NJ City Rejects Mosque

BAYONNE, N.J. (AP) -

Federal law enforcement officials are investigating a New Jersey city that prevented a Muslim group from building a mosque, a rejection that the group claims was motivated by religious hatred.

Matthew Reilly, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey, confirmed that it is investigating after Bayonne rejected the mosque’s application. The Department of Justice last week unveiled a $3.25 million settlement between a different New Jersey town and an Islamic group — a deal that requires the town to allow a mosque to be built after a similar zoning dispute.

The zoning board in the working-class city across the harbor from New York City voted 4-3 in favor of the mosque proposal in March, but it needed a minimum of five votes to pass. Those who voted against it cited parking and traffic concerns, although the Bayonne Muslims say that the building is located in an uncongested part of the city with ample parking.

They say that included flyers calling for boycotts of Muslim-owned businesses with references to the Sept. 11 attacks and anti-Muslim graffiti on the walls of the church they rented for prayer services. Signs saying “Save Bayonne” and “Stop the mosque” were displayed around the town.