Tennessee County Continues to Oppose Allowing Muslims to Worship at New Mosque Despite Court Ruling
Monday, July 23, 2012
Residents of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, have fought the building of a new mosque for more than two years, during which opponents have said Muslims are a threat to American democracy.
When the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, which has been operating in the county since 1982, set out in 2009 to build a new place of worship, locals filed a lawsuit in which they claimed that Islam was not a real religion and Muslims intended to overthrow the U.S. Constitution in favor of Islamic religious law.
Building of the mosque eventually proceeded and, despite the burning of a construction vehicle and other acts of vandalism, it was recently completed. However on June 13, 2012, the local Chancery Court issued an injunction declaring the previously approved site-plan permit void, and refused to allow the mosque to be occupied by its owners.
Supporters filed their own lawsuit to get it open in time for Ramadan, which began on July 20, and the U.S. Department of Justice filed a separate suit in support of the Islamic Center based on the U.S. Constitution’s right to freedom of religion. U.S. District Court Judge Todd Campbell ruled that the congregation has the right to worship at their new facility.
Opponents have accused the Obama administration of meddling in local affairs and taking sides against Christians. Congresswoman Diane Black (R-Tennessee) said in a prepared statement: “Christians’ rights to freedom of religion are violated frequently and the Obama Justice Department doesn’t coming rushing to our aid, but they will meddle in a local zoning matter to promote Islam.”
On Friday, the Center’s imam, Ossama Bahloul, reminded his congregation that Ramadan is a time of forgiveness. “Do not hold any hard feelings in your heart toward anyone, even those on the opposition side,” he said. “Pray for the opposition to get to know us and to change their feelings.”
The Islamic Center serves a community of about 250 families, as well as about 400 Muslim students attending Middle Tennessee State University.
-David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff
To Learn More:
Tennessee Muslims Feel Blessed this Ramadan (by Travis Loller, Associated Press)
Mosque & USA Sue County in Tennessee (by Iulia Filip, Courthouse News Service)
Mosque Foes 'Blindsided' By Federal Action (The Tennessean)
Judge Grants Tenn. Mosque's Petition To Open (by Travis Loller, Associated Press)
Murfreesboro Mosque: On Ramadan Eve, Muslims Fight For The Right To Celebrate (Asma Uddin and Ashley E. McGuire, Huffington Post)
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