Blaine City Council unanimously approves permit for controversial Muslim school

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After facing opposition from several residents, the Blaine City Council approved a proposal for a small Islamic school in a 5-0 vote Thursday night.

The Star Tribune reports the city's Planning Commission also unanimously recommended the council approve a conditional-use permit for the Darul Arqam Center of Excellence to be housed in an office building purchased by the school in February.

The school, already operating in the space, currently has six students who attend a full-time program and four students who attend a weekend program, the newspaper reports. The school plans to operate their program in the lower level of the building and rent out the upper level to businesses.

School officials say the expect no more than a total of 40 students to be enrolled in the future.

The private school holds courses for students ages 6 and up in Quran memorization, math and science, according to the Pioneer Press.

Petitions opposing the school were filed by 25 residents who cited mostly traffic concerns, but one petitioner, John Blucher, says it's also a personal issue.

"We don’t want an Islamic center in the neighborhood," Blucher told the Star Tribune. "There doesn’t have to be a reason. It’s just the way the voters feel in the neighborhood. We don’t want a school there. We don’t want a church there."

The Pioneer Press reports the St. Anthony City Council denied an application by the Abu-Huraira Islamic Center last year to convert part of an old building into a prayer space.

Council members who voted against the request said their opposition was based on land-use considerations, according to the newspaper.

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