The tentative settlement agreed to by Pittsfield Township would be one of the largest cash payouts ever by a U.S. municipality to a mosque. The deal could send shock waves throughout the nation among communities fighting to keep large mosques and madrasas out of residential areas.
The settlement grants an Ann Arbor-based mosque led by a Syrian imam the right to build a 70,000-square-foot Islamic school, a residential development consisting of 22 duplex units and three single-family homes, plus a park, the Detroit News reported.
Shaykh Moataz Al-Hallak migrated to the U.S. from Syria in the 1980s and has been organizing and leading mosques ever since. The New York Times reported on Sept. 18, 2001, that Al-Hallak was “a Muslim cleric suspected of ties to the Osama bin Laden organization” and that he had been banned from preaching at a Texas mosque because he was “considered by some congregants as having an overly rigid interpretation of Muslim theology.”