Christian and Muslim leaders came together to support the Murfreesboro Islamic community and imam Ossama Bahloul Sunday afternoon at The Village Church in East Nashville. “We just really wanted to reach out to him and to let him know that we cared about his community and him and that we would be praying with them,” said Dr. Andrew Anyabwile, Village Church pastor.
On Tuesday, a Rutherford County judge nullified the permit to build a multimillion dollar Islamic center in Murfreesboro after ruling that not enough public notice was given before a planning commission meeting where the construction was approved.
“It seems like the Muslim community being singled out in this because we did follow the exact process of everyone else,” said Ossama Bahloul, the Murfreesboro Islamic center imam. “If we respect our constitution, then we’ll have no choice but to support each other because the freedom of religion is the core of our constitution.”
While the congregation at the Village Church had a very vocal support for the imam’s words, the Murfreesboro Islamic center still has plenty of opponents. “If they’re this peaceful, loving religion, that they claim they are, they need to abide by the laws that all of us have to,” said attorney Joe Brandon, who has been representing clients that oppose the construction of the Islamic center.
Brandon has voiced several controversial claims like the stance that Islam was not an actual religion, and the group is out to spread Sharia law. “Sharia law provides that their law dominates the law of Tennessee, the laws of all 50 states, the law of the U.S. constitution,” Brandon said.
“It seems like this is a small group with a very vocal voice against the freedom of religion in Murfreesboro,” Bahloul said. “But I am really optimistic because I know that what’s right will prevail by the end.” Bahloul said he hopes the Islamic center will open in July to celebrate the month of Ramadan.
See also “Murfreesboro mosque ruling stirs confusion”, The Tennessean, 3 June 2012