MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro has a right by law to build a bigger place of worship, Chancellor Robert Corlew decided in upholding his May ruling on Monday.
“Those who are adherents to Islam are entitled to pursue their worship in the United States just as are those who are adherents to more universally established faiths [in our community],” Corlew wrote. “We are all very familiar with the legal principle that in the United States, all citizens enjoy the right to freedom of religion and freedom of speech.”
Corlew also reaffirmed his earlier decision that the 17 plaintiffs suing Rutherford County government for approving the mosque construction plans have no standing to show they've been harmed other than the statutory right to challenge whether an open meeting violation occurred.
No trial has been scheduled on whether the county failed to provide sufficient public notice before its Regional Planning Commission met in late May to vote on plans to construct the 52,000 square-foot mosque on Veals Road, off Bradyville Pike southeast of Murfreesboro.
“We thank the judge and we thank attorneys and everybody who [was] involved and we always believe truth and justice will prevail in this country,” Dr. Saleh Svenaty with the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro said, adding, “This is one of the most beautiful communities that anybody wish to be in, so we are fortunate to be in this community.”
Some residents who live near the mosque site feel it's not the right place for it.
“This America, they're not American so…,” Cindy Hemerick shrugged.
Richard Cerritos added, “It's not a peaceful religion. It's not like Christianity. They don't treat their women the same way we treat our women, they're not the same in their eyes.”
The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro has a building permit in hand and they're in the process of finding a contractor.
They hope to start building in six weeks with the goal of opening by late next summer.
When the mosque is complete, Islamic center officials say they want to invite people of all religions to visit and take a tour.