Howard M. Cooper was interviewed in a WBUR news report on the controversy involving the central Massachusetts town of Dudley's denial of the Islamic Society of Worcester's request for a cemetery permit.
Mr. Cooper, who represents the Islamic Society, sent a letter to town officials warning them that the denial of the Society's request to create a Muslim cemetery on vacant farm land is based on religious discrimination and violates the Society's constitutional and civil rights. He indicated that he will likely file a federal civil rights lawsuit as a result.
The Society has agreed to buy the 55-acre parcel and wants to use a portion of it for the cemetery. The town denied the request, arguing the Society lacks legal standing to seek a special permit for the cemetery. The town claims that under state law it has the right of first refusal to buy the property.
Mr. Cooper in his letter to the town's selectmen wrote: “The record is clear that rather than honor and protect the [Islamic Society's] clear constitutional and other rights, the [town's Zoning Board of Appeals] entertained, encouraged and ultimately gave in to a pervasive and poisonous atmosphere of prejudice and discriminatory behavior by certain town officials and members of the public."
Mr. Cooper, a Founding Partner at the firm, regularly handles significant civil rights and First Amendment matters, which are often of public significance.
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