A Chicago doctor who proposed opening the state's first "Shariah-compliant" surgery center is dropping references to Islamic law, a bid to reduce confusion — and controversy — about the plan.

Dr. Naser Rustom's original proposal for a $5.5 million medical facility in southwest suburban Orland Park that would adhere to the tenets of Islam was issued a preliminary denial in May by the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board. The proposal was a sign of the growing population of Arab-Americans and other Muslims in the Chicago area.

But by catering to conservative Muslims, the center raised thorny issues because some interpretations of Shariah would require strict segregation of the sexes. Dr. Rustom, who also owns the Alhambra Palace restaurant on West Randolph Street, didn't intend to follow that practice because he said it would violate federal and state law.

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