Posted by on July 20, 2012 in Blog
Just in time for Ramadan, a federal judge has ruled that an injunction preventing the opening of a new mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee is illegal and should be overturned, allowing the mosque’s members to use the space during the the Muslim holy month. The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro has been a target of controversy for nearly two years, and residents of the city had sued the Islamic Center in a local court to keep the mosque from opening, claiming that the project had not been given appropriate public scrutiny before construction commenced. During the 2010 controversy over the proposed mosque a few blocks from the site of the World Trade Center, opponents of the Murfreesboro mosque received support from around the country. When the mosque was vandalized during the controversy, supporters of the Islamic Center rallied around its membership. After a Rutherford County judge issued an injunction in June mandating the mosque remain closed while the question of public notice was adjudicated, attorneys representing the Islamic Center filed suit in federal court, claiming that the county judge’s injunction violated their Constitutionally-protected right to freedom of religion. In the ruling issued yesterday, US District Judge Todd Campbell agreed with that argument and ordered the injunction removed immediately.
What was ostensibly a case about arcane construction regulations was always about the intolerance of some residents of Murfreesboro towards the town’s increasingly visible Muslim minority. Hopefully, this will be the last legal challenge to the Islamic Center, and its members will be able to return to worshipping in peace at their new mosque. The federal judge who made the ruling and the attorneys who helped the Islamic Center mount its defense should be commended for their hard work, and supporters of religious freedom should be encouraged by this development. Though it likely won’t be the last case of its kind, it is a step in the right direction.