Stafford County, Virginia will allow the creation of an Islamic cemetery after the US Justice Department sued the jurisdiction, the agency announced Thursday.
The Justice Department said it is nixing its lawsuit filed in June 2020 after the county repealed former ordinances that prevented the All Muslim Association of America (AMAA) from establishing the religious cemetery, and approved the association's site plan.
The county also agreed to pay AMAA half-a-million dollars in damages, it added.
US law "protects people of all faiths in their right to exercise their religion," Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in a statement, referring to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), a 2000 law that allows religious organizations to avoid zoning restrictions.
"The Department of Justice will continue to vigorously enforce RLUIPA — through litigation if necessary — against zoning regulations that unreasonably burden religious exercise, including by restricting a religious group's right to bury its dead in accordance with religious rituals and customs," she added.
AMAA said its mission is to "provide low-cost burial and funeral services to the Muslims living in Washington DC, Virginia and Maryland."