Attorneys ask judge to throw out legal challenge to Murfreesboro Islamic Center

Murfreesboro Islamic Center under construction

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — The final legal hurdle over construction of a mosque in Murfreesboro may be over.

County attorneys asked a judge to throw out the final legal challenge on Wednesday. Opponents have argued the county failed to give sufficient public notice before approving the project.

The judge will review the motion on April 19. County officials are hoping he will toss out a lawsuit that claims they did not give proper notice when approving building plans for the new Islamic Center of Murfreesboro.  Mosque opponents say they are readying a response.

Meanwhile, major progress has been made in construction of the center.  Distinctive arches have taken shape, the frame of the building is complete and workers are starting to put bricks around it.

“We are so excited,” said Imam Ossama Bahloul.  “I think when we have the new facility it will be a time for us to celebrate freedom of religion.”

Amid legal battles and protests to stop construction, someone set fire to equipment on the mosque site and mosque officials received threatening phone calls. Despite all that, construction started last September. Now, 7 months later, crews are nearing completion. The Islamic Center is scheduled to be done in late summer.

“It will be a place for Muslims to pray, a place for non-Muslims to come and share information, a place for our youth to play and have fun,” said Bahloul.  “It will do what any religious facility does.”

In February, construction on the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro began.

Since its approval by the Rutherford County Planning Commission the project has been fraught by legal challenges, threats and even arson.

When complete the 53,000 square foot project will include a pool, gymnasium, school and places for prayer.

News Channel 5, 4 April 2012