Panic Intersecting: Mosques, Zoning, and Islamophobia

A Panel Discussion

Mosque Alert   Portrait2The panel discussion “Panic Intersecting: Mosques, Zoning, and Islamophobia” was held at Silk Road Rising on Tuesday, January 19, 2016. The panel featured zoning specialist and attorney Mark Daniel, DuPage County Board Member Tony Michelassi, and Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) Trial Attorney Phil Robertson. Moderated by Artistic Director Jamil Khoury, the panelists discussed their experiences with mosque zoning disputes in the Chicagoland area and the motivations behind them. This event created a broader understanding of the difficulties facing the Muslim American community in their wish to exercise their religious freedom and provided more context for our upcoming world premiere of Jamil Khoury’s Mosque Alert.

The following is a video recording of the panel:

Video excerpts from Jamil Khoury's online new play development and engagement process Mosque Alert were directed by Jamil Khoury and starring Dom Bender and Khurram Mozaffar.


Mark DanielMark Daniel devotes his legal practice to prosecuting and defending civil litigation, municipal and government litigation, zoning and land use litigation as well as trademark, copyright and advertising litigation. He has extensive experience in local and regional government matters, and has served as special counsel and general counsel to local governments and representing parties with interests in governmental affairs. Daniel was selected in 2007 as one of Illinois’ Super Lawyers (in the fields of litigation, real estate and zoning and land use) by Illinois Law & Politics magazine and by Chicago magazine for his high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. He has represented both The Islamic Center of Western Suburbs (ICWS) and the Muslim Educational Cultural Center of America (MECCA) in their endeavors to build mosques in unincorporated DuPage County.

Tony MichelassismallerTony Michelassi is a Member of the DuPage County Board, representing District 5 since 2008. He graduated from Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora and received his Associate in Arts degree from the College of DuPage. Tony first ran for election at the age of 23 and subsequently became the youngest Board Member ever elected and one of the first Democrats elected to the County Board in over 30 years. He is currently Chairman of the county's Environmental Committee and sits on the Finance, Development, Stormwater, Strategic Planning, Technology, and Ad-Hoc Airport Noise Committees. From 2009 to 2012, Tony was Chairman of the Development Committee, which oversees zoning and land use in DuPage County's unincorporated areas. During that time, DuPage County saw an unprecedented number of mosques applying for permits and zoning relief. Tony is a strong advocate for interfaith dialogue. He has lived in Aurora the vast majority of his life.

Phil RobertsoneditedPhil Robertson has a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Marquette University and a law degree from Northern Illinois University. Robertson opened his own law practice in DeKalb, Illinois, which focused on personal injury as well as criminal and family law cases. In 1993, he was appointed Assistant Attorney General for the State of Illinois in the General Law Bureau of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office in Chicago; in this position, he focused on civil rights cases on behalf of several state departments and agencies. Robertson has worked in a variety of areas, in both the private and public sector, including real estate, land use and zoning, municipal, government and administrative law. He became the Director of the Rockford Regional Office for the Illinois Attorney General’s Office in 2002. Before joining CAIR-Chicago, Robertson opened his own law firm in Crystal Lake, Illinois, where he served businesses in the surrounding counties.

The event was live Tweeted. Here's a document with all 55 Tweets. Read for an account of the evening >>