Metro

US Attorney closes religious discrimination investigation in Dudley

The U.S. Attorney’s office has ended its investigation into whether the Town of Dudley violated a federal civil rights law that protects against religious discrimination, Acting U.S. Attorney William Weinreb announced Wednesday.

The investigation was sparked by the heated backlash that a plan for a new Muslim cemetery on a plot of farmland received and was concluded after the recent approval of a settlement between the Town of Dudley and the Islamic Society of Greater Worcester, Weinreb said in a press release.

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Although the settlement between both parties was approved in December 2016, the U.S. attorney’s office kept the investigation open, pending final approvals from the town, the release said.

Federal prosecutors launched the investigation to determine if the town had infringed on the Islamic Society’s right to religious exercise by placing unreasonable barriers to their request to establish the cemetery. Previous attempts to create the cemetery had been denied by the town.

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The Town of Dudley’s Zoning Board of Appeals approved the cemetery in early March after more than a year contentious public hearings.

The Islamic Society had been eyeing the 55-acre farmland as a closer alternative to nearest Muslim cemetery in Ennfield, Conn.

“We are pleased that the town of Dudley and the Islamic Society of Greater Worcester reached an agreement,” Weinreb said in the statement. “And the agreement affirms the commitment by both parties to abide by federal law.”

Jacob Geanous can be reached at jacob.geanous@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jacob_geanous.
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