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Feds sue Pittsfield Township over zoning approval denial for Islamic school

The United State Department of Justice is suing Pittsfield Township over township leader's decision to deny zoning approval which would have allowed the Michigan Islamic Academy (MIA) to build a school on a vacant parcel of land.

The complaint alleges that Pittsfield Township imposed a "substantial burden" on MIA's exercise of religion when it refused to grant its request for rezoning to allow MIA to build a new school on a vacant parcel of land in the township. MIA, currently located in Ann Arbor, Mich., sought to build in Pittsfield Township because it requires additional space for religious and secular educational purposes, according to the Department of Justice.

Read back: Township rejects zoning change for Islamic school

"Religious freedom is a cornerstone of our society, and that freedom includes being able to create the institutions and physical spaces needed for worship, religious education and other aspects of religious exercise," said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division, in a news release. "The Justice Department is committed to ensuring that all religious groups enjoy the right to practice their faiths freely, and will continue to challenge local land use decisions that substantially burden religious exercise."

The complaint timeline dates back to 2010. Here is the full complaint, which was filed Monday in district court:

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