The Justice Department filed suit Monday contending that Culpeper County, Va., acted in a discriminatory manner in denying an approval needed for the construction of an Islamic house of worship there.

Justice asked a federal court to order the largely rural county to grant the permit approval needed by the Islamic Center of Culpeper for its proposed mosque. About 12 to 20 Muslims have been showing up for prayers at a temporary site, and wished to build a permanent home for their activities.

No mosque exists in the county, which is about 70 miles southwest of Washington. The nearest is 45 minutes away by car, Justice said.

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