RELIGION

Feds to investigate town's rejection of Muslim cemetery

File -- In this April 12, 2016 file photo Desiree Moninski, stands on land located across from her house in Dudley, Mass., which is the site of a proposed Muslim cemetery. Federal prosecutors have opened an investigation into whether civil rights laws were violated by the town of Dudley that has rejected plans for the Muslim cemetery. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

File -- In this April 12, 2016 file photo Desiree Moninski, stands on land located across from her house in Dudley, Mass., which is the site of a proposed Muslim cemetery. Federal prosecutors have opened an investigation into whether civil rights laws were violated by the town of Dudley that has rejected plans for the Muslim cemetery. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)  (The Associated Press)

Federal prosecutors have opened an investigation into whether civil rights laws were violated by a Massachusetts town that rejected plans for a Muslim cemetery.

U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said Thursday that the investigation will determine whether the town of Dudley violated the right to religious exercise by the Islamic Society of Greater Worcester. The Islamic group wants to use 55 acres of farmland in Dudley for a Muslim cemetery, but town officials rejected the plan, citing traffic and environmental concerns.

A lawyer for the group has suggested that anti-Muslim bias played a role in the town's decision to deny needed permits for the cemetery.

Ortiz says her investigation will look into whether the town placed unreasonable barriers to the group's cemetery proposal.