A federal judge is giving the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro a last-minute chance to open in time for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts Thursday night. The judge’s order reverses a state court’s decision that was keeping congregants from moving into the new mosque.
Imam Ossama Bahloul said after the hearing his congregants should be proud of America.
BAHLOUL: “We set an example to people everywhere. We can look to the people in the middle or far east or in the middle of Africa saying to them ‘America is the role model. Try to learn from us in America.’”
Opponents who tried to tie the new mosque to terrorism had managed to stall it in state court, on the grounds that county officials didn’t give enough notice before approving it.
Rutherford County Attorney Jim Cope says that put him between a rock and a hard place, because letting the mosque open would have defied a court order. Cope was glad to hear a federal judge say Wednesday the county had it right two years ago.
COPE: “I guess it does clarify somewhat what we’ve been saying all along. We now have another judge who respectfully disagrees with what the state court has been saying. So it does make one feel good that we’ve been vindicated – that we did it the right way the first time.”
The new mosque still has to be inspected and get a certificate of occupancy from the county. Asked whether congregants could be in before Ramadan starts at sundown, a mosque official said “we’ll see.”