PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia man has filed a lawsuit against his condo association, alleging religious discrimination.
“I just think it’s wrong and unfair,” said Akhil Tripathi.
A small display in the hallway of the Murano building in Philadelphia is causing quite a large controversy.
“This is the last thing I expected that somebody would take this as a major issue,” said Tripathi.
Tripathi has been a resident of the building for almost a decade and he is proud of his Hindu religion. When you walk into his home, a Toran greets you above.
“It’s a blessed entrance way. That’s what that means,” he said of the word Toran.
When you come into his home more Hindu symbols fill the hallways. Tripathi says he’s never had a problem with the Toran until condo association members say the rules changed a few months ago. He’s been threatened with legal action if he doesn’t remove the Toran.
“I sent them information and stuff and these two or three people said they decided that this is not acceptable and you must take it down. If you don’t take it down, we will take it down,” he said.
The rules set forth by the board are as follows: “Subject to the prior approval of the Executive Board, a small religious article (such as a Mezuzah or the like) may be attached to the exterior frame of a Unit door, but not to the door itself.”
A Mezuzah is a small symbol Jews often put on the frame of their front door. Tripathi doesn’t understand how Mezuzahs are allowed but Torans are not.
Tripathi installed the Toran when he moved into the building in 2009. In fact, there was a special ceremony of dedication.
“When there is a major issue that is against my principles and beliefs, I am going to stand up for it. We all need to stand up for our beliefs,” he said.
Now, Tripathi has taken legal action.
“We determined that the only course was to ask the courts to protect him under the Fair Housing Act,” said Kevin Toth, Tripathi’s attorney.
A lawsuit was filed this week against Murano Condominium Association.
“I think a jury, which is ultimately what we’ve asked for, is going to have a real issue with what’s happening here,” said Toth.
For now, Tripathi says he welcomes a judge and jury to review his case. After all, he says his Toran is a welcoming sign of peace.
“I have no intention of taking Toran down, so I’m going to fight this battle to whatever extent it takes because this is wrong,” he said.
CBS3 reached out to the Murano Condo Association. An attorney representing the association said she had no comment on the case.