Tennessee mosque project moves ahead

May 21, 2011 at 10:44 PM
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MURFREESBORO, Tenn., May 21 (UPI) -- A Muslim congregation in Murfreesboro, Tenn., has obtained a building permit for a new mosque after a judge ruled against a group seeking to stop the project.

The 17 plaintiffs contended unsuccessfully that the mosque would violate their constitutional rights, The Daily New Journal in Murfreesboro reported. Their lawyer, Joe Brandon Jr., argued the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro members are required by their religion to repress non-Muslims,

"We must note that, under the law, the plaintiffs have not demonstrated a loss different from that which is common to all citizens of Rutherford County," the local judge, Robert Corlew III, said in his ruling. "That Islam is a religion has been proven in this case. That the county ordinance allows construction of a church or place of meeting within a residential planning zone as a matter of right in this case is further undisputed."

Islamic center chairman Essam Fathy said the congregation of about 250 area families obtained the building permit Friday and hopes to have the nearly 12,000-square-foot mosque completed within a year.

"We put our trust in our judicial system and always believe that truth and justice will prevail," Saleh Sbenaty, a member of the Islamic center said. "We would like to thank the judge for his ruling, and we wish the community will put this behind us and be united again. We will work together for building bridges of understanding."

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