Embattled Tennessee mosque to move forward with construction
The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro has faced intense local opposition over plans to construct a new mosque.
September 2nd, 2011
10:18 PM ET

Embattled Tennessee mosque to move forward with construction

By Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN

It has taken months, but leaders of an embattled Murfreesboro, Tennessee, mosque say that construction of a new facility could start as soon as next month.

The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro has existed for more than a decade. As it surpassed 1,000 worshippers, its members planned to build a new 52,000-square-foot structure with a mosque, gym, playground and cemetery.

Backlash followed, including lawsuits and an August 2010 fire that destroyed construction equipment and damaged vehicles at the construction site for the mosque. Police said it was arson.

A sign announcing the mosque was spray-painted with the words "Not Welcome."

The Murfreesboro Muslim community's story was featured in the April documentary, "Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door," which will air again at 8 p.m. ET Sunday on CNN.

For months, mosque leaders searched for contractors willing and able to do the job. Because of the opposition and threats the project has provoked, the construction job has gotten more complicated. The work now requires more layers of security, including cameras.

Some contractors weren't willing to take the job. Mosque leaders said contractors told them it had become too much of a hot-button issue and presented too much of a risk to their business and equipment. Several contractors began the bidding process but never finished.

Mosque officials said a contractor told them that he needed the work but that the leaders of his own church were against the new Islamic center.

"I had a contractor tell me, 'I don't want to get on bad terms with my preacher,'" said Essam Fathy, a member of the Islamic Center's board of directors. "I told him, 'You need to be able to do what you believe inside, and tell your preacher what the problem is, and discuss it with him.'

"It hasn't gone as smooth as I thought it would go."

But mosque leaders said several contractors' bids are coming in, and they hope construction will begin next month, before the often rainy fall begins.

Leaders said they never anticipated a negative response to the construction of a new facility, or the national attention it would draw. The debate heats up with every legal motion or political statement, like when Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said in August that communities should be able to prevent mosques from being built. Cain later apologized.

"We are exhausted. So much media attention, so many calls, so many e-mails," said Imam Ossama Bahloul. "We were all shocked that people were so aggressive to us. We were not anticipating any opposition. I do believe it's a small group of people with a very volatile voice."

This week, a Rutherford County judge affirmed his May decision that the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro has a right to build a larger facility.

In the opinion, Chancellor Robert Corlew said organizations must be treated equally under current land-use ordinances, but added that some of the county's land use laws are "in dire need of revision."

Corlew also wrote that the plaintiffs suing Rutherford County's planning commission can challenge whether the mosque's approval violated open meeting laws.

Joe Brandon Jr., an attorney for the plaintiffs, said they'll be filing paperwork early next week that will lead to a trial date.

"This fight is far from over," Brandon said. "We are confident that victory is certain."

But Fathy, who sits on the Islamic Center's planning commission, said the judge's affirmation was cause to celebrate. Mosque members learned of it during a feast to break the Ramadan fast.

Like most other years, they'd rented a large facility and invited Muslims and non-Muslims, but this was the biggest crowd it had ever drawn.

"Next year, we'll have this event," Fathy said he told the crowd, "and we'll have this in the new Islamic Center."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Islam • Mosque • Tennessee

soundoff (279 Responses)
  1. M-Boro Guy

    I live right here in the Boro and it makes me sick every time I see that old crone Sally and that clown Brandon on TV or right in town! They whole lot of them are making our community look like hillbillies who think it is still 1950! They keep Kevin Fisher around as their token person of color so they can say "we are not racist, we have Kevin with us". You can build a church without planning boar approval, but not a Mosque??? Well, if the Mosque needs to be approved and they decide not to re-approve, we need to revisit all the churches that were build and start knocking those down as well! It's just the good old boy network rolling over everyone’s rights... As per usual!

    May 30, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  2. bebe

    This country is already done. it will just take a little longer to become muslim than the rest of the world, but it will happen. All muslims have to do is keep doing what they are and out bread us, then they will take over this country with their vote. They will use our democracy against us. I pray for my children and grandchildren for they will have to live (if they're not murdered) in this world as I am probably old enough not to see this country completely destroyed. This is a Christian based country and if us Christians do not take up the sword against our sworn enemies, we will perish. They called for the Jihad.

    February 21, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • danielwalldammit

      Today's unfounded alarmist fantasies brought to you by...

      April 21, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • M-Boro Guy

      you need to brush up on your US History! This country was not based in Christianity, it was built on the prospect that one can come here to follow any religion they wanted to, even new religions like "Mormonisum"! Get your fact right before you open your big fu-king trap!

      May 30, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
  3. Brenda Lowry

    Throw a naked woman wrapped in bacon at their door. MUSLIMS CAN GO F.... A DUCK!!

    December 13, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • danielwalldammit

      It's nice to see that you hold the rights of your fellow Americans in high honor.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • M-Boro Guy

      You are an a$$clown! Go back into that brokendown singlewide of yours and STFU!

      May 30, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
  4. KeyWestConch

    So much for land of the free and home of the brave that believes in religious freedom.

    September 30, 2011 at 9:58 am |
  5. Keith Stone

    We should all just sit down over some beef jerky and talk things through.

    Always smooth.

    September 22, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  6. Iqbal Khan

    Check this....


    September 19, 2011 at 12:11 am |
  7. Tired of hate

    GOD said " Love thy nieghbor as thy self" it's in the ten commandment for goodness sake! If you cannot love thy neighbor then it is you who is in the wrong.

    September 12, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  8. kedsoickeks

    Sorry if this is a little off topic... I enjoy reading religion.blogs.cnn.com

    With all the talk about Light Gypsum.
    I really like using it. Have you used it?

    We save a ton of $ in dump fees. The material is very easy to pick up.

    September 10, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
  9. sal paradise

    Shiv Sena, RSS, BJP, and all you other Hindu-nationalist trash are full of it. You are ruining India.

    September 10, 2011 at 1:40 am |
  10. One nation

    Wow! How Christ like, to hate non Christians.....or is it not true?

    When Christian pick and choose from Christianity, it is not God they believe in, but themselves.

    Funny, Muslims believe in Christ and Mary and the Holy Spirit, but the Jews, hindus, buddhists, sikhs, do not. Muslims await the return of Christ like the Christians, and the Jews, hindus, buddhists, do not.

    September 9, 2011 at 1:34 am |
  11. Muneef

    Have to improve Islamic Image through the Mosque...

    I think Muslim community is in deep trouble for it's backwardness and poverty while we see nothing is being done to resolve that...do we no have any other more important things to discuss than Birthdays or which foot first or this or that? So many things are being discussed and focused on that which has nothing about perfecting us as Muslims in front of the other nations...

    Our nation was once a "Light House of knowledge for all those nations...but today we are being given as the worse example among the nations...!! Why was that and where we went wrong? What has to be reviewed and be adjusted... It was our Imams and the educated Muslims behind the failure of the Image of Islam on the face of the nations of earth...
    It was us as Muslims who should have been highly educated masses and be one of the most prosperous nations covered under the Islamic umbrella...
    Islam was based on the investment of the human being knowledge as to Read,Think and Learn for making the benefit beneficial for all Human beings... Islam was based on Mercifulness towards human beings and towards bringing them to know what they do not know with out compelling their belief nor to killing them for not adopting what they do not know of or for their belief...

    If the Majority of Muslim Nation are seen in deep poverty, backwardness, ignorance,uneducated and accused worldwide as being as Sa-v-age and Barbar-i-ans ?? Who would you think would believe you are on the right track? Was or Is that really what we wanted to achieve for Islam Image? How would GOD "Allah" or his Ring Messenger and Prophet..think of our achievements for Islam Image..? What ever is happening is causing fears and doubts to other nations who no longer now want to eat with Muslims or live by Muslims and that is happening now to all Islamic nation worldwide..! They are doubted in fear of their mentality and intentions of their hearts towards other living human beings..! Was it that what we wanted for Islam or was it like that how it should have been??
    In the past of earlier decades every nation or individuals of any nation were happy to deal or trade or buy from Islamic traders marking them as being most honest and truthful...that's how they were known as traders who's their sea trade extended from Indian ocean to the China Sea...those other than the land transportation by Camel Caravans moving between the South and North as well as between the far East and the far West...!!

    How can we regain the image of Islam as a religion of Honesty,Knowledge and Prosperity for the Nation of Islam... It was one of the saddest things to see that Islam has no longer one major "Bait Maal Almuslimeen" "The Islamic Wealth Vault" which could have used such funds to encourage such developments to the nation rather than on hate or terror suicidal acts that Islam being abused by...!
    Asking GOD "Allah" for forgiveness for what has been said as a reminder to our nation and leaders... That we should not take the Shells for discussions and leave behind the True Heart of the Message relaid upon us to carry in the best of Image and acts.. Just remember that Pen could be a better weapon than Swords... With Pens we will spill Oceans of Inks but with Swords we will spill oceans of bloods..
    Peace to all,         

    September 8, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
  12. Muneef

    911 Goha's Nail fixed on the whole Islamic Nation and not particular sectors of Islam;

    911. From days alike last year 2010 up to these same days..of 2011 already one whole year for me here and noticed that heat arises every time this days come closer or a certain accidents take place... Last year was a Florida Paster of Dove Church threatening to burn the Quran...! This year GOD knows what under sleeve awaiting the opportunity to divid the nations united under the Western and Eastern Flags further more into bloodshed confrontations...under the name of Religions or Political Parties"Ideologies"...! 

    Latest was explosions in India marked as "Islamic Jihadists" and another in Pakistan although I was surprised that it was not marked as "Hindu Jihadists"... That would have had both Great Countries confront each other serving the purpose of other competing nations over the Rich Indian Peninsular... Believe me no nation fall back unless people of her own are traitors to it's nations principals and beliefs for the reason of Hate,Envy,Revenge, or Greeds towards material wealth even if by selling their Dignity and integrity or their family,tribe,community,the nation and the country it wouldn't mean much to them...and those can be found among every level of the one Society...

    Any way seems that we Muslims are seeing our religion is being Nailed one  after another with acts that we disapprove of under any name such as targeting civilians or those in duty of the law and order..! As a responsible person from a great religion such as Islam, I wouldn't make an act in a place where I think many innocent Muslims would suffer in the hands of non Muslims...!!
    Still I do not believe that those call them selves Muslims Jihadists would not mind making a Terrorist acts at or close to Mosques or any minorities worship houses,nor in the markets where people make and take their living and needs..!?!
    This is not my Islam where we should reflect to be a honorable example that is Respected and Feared as Human of High Morals and Intel-lig-ence rather than being Feared as Sa-v-age Barb-a-rians...!! That is the True Jihad and not the one we see every one use to claim a false victory bases other humans miseries..!?!

    Islam and Muslims is a General Word that is divided it to many sectors that are rejecting,disputing the main Islamic doctrine... So how would we know which of those are doing what where all then blamed for some thing they knew not of...?
    Find for your self which sector could be responsible in such big conspiracy with others who hate Islam in targeting the Original Islam Doctrine and other innocent Islamic sectors...!?!

    Summaries of the major sects within Islam;

    September 7, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
    • Tariq

      Not through a Mosque but by personal example.

      September 9, 2011 at 1:35 am |
    • Muneef

      Personal example! And where from do you get that ? Well our Mosques give us example of the Prophets of GOD and the example of Prophet Muhammed's and his companions...those examples which builds the personal example either through Mosques or through readings from official books since many have manipulated the truth to bring hate rather than peace..

      September 9, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
  13. Anton LaVey (ACTS)

    I am no fan of Islam, however muslims have the right to worship like any other group. You got to love the ignorant sheep.

    September 7, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Muneef

      Only too late you will become to realize who has been the full time ignorant sheep

      September 9, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • Muneef

      Only too late you will become to realize who has been the full time ignorant sheep, that day would be the judgment day when you will be asked and questioned as how you spent your life time,money,health and who you had worshiped,,,so on..
      So would be bad for you to be treated as a wolf rather than a sheep...

      September 9, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • KeyWestConch

      Yeah even the so called "christian" ones.

      September 30, 2011 at 10:01 am |
  14. Muneef

    M. Asad
    Islam at the Cross Roads, S M Ashraf Publisher
    Lahore Pakistan


     It was then for `the first time in history that Europe conceived itself as a unity-and it was a unity against the world of Islam. Without indulging in undue exaggerations, we can say that modern Europe was born out of the spirit of the Crusades. Before that time there existed Anglo-saxons and Germans,
    French and Normans, Italians and Danes: but during the Crusades the new
    concept of "Western civilisation", a cause common to all European
    nations alike, was created; and it was the hatred of Islam that stood
    as godfather behind the new creation...

    September 7, 2011 at 6:56 am |
    • Reality


      Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.

      This agenda continues as shown by the ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, and the Filipino “koranics”.

      And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

      Current crises:

      The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

      September 7, 2011 at 7:49 am |
    • danielwalldammit

      Do you actually think you are accomplishing anything with these screeds?

      April 21, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
  15. JaNell

    Wow. Religion will be the death of us all. When did people lose sight of their humnaity? I find it hard to say that I'm a Christian as I read through these comments.

    September 6, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      The hateful ones aren't really Christian at all. Real Christians don't hate those who are different or believe different things.

      September 6, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Sure they do. I've heard them talk on Sunday afternoon, about their neighbors, relatives, and select minorities.

      September 6, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
  16. Reality

    These Muslims are wasting their money. Why?

    Recognizing the flaws, follies and frauds in the foundations of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, the "bowers", kneelers" and "pew peasants" are converging these religions into some simple rules of life. No koran, bible, clerics, nuns, monks, imams, evangelicals, ayatollahs, rabbis, professors of religion or priests needed or desired.

    Ditto for houses of "worthless worship" aka mosques, churches, basilicas, cathedrals, temples and synagogues.

    September 6, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  17. hippypoet

    idiots, come on people... christians built a church over there, why not a mosque over here.. its fair, its right, and they are doing it legally, so get over it... oh and if any person/ people destory anything to do with the building, like steal building materials or whatever... if they get away with it then even the court has become a place of unjustice! why can't we just live and let others live... is that really so hard.... GODD@MN, YOU FU-KING PEOPLE SUCK GOD'S BALLS!

    September 6, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • Jason

      Such a child like mind you have.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:22 am |
    • A star wars fan

      As the late Darth Vader once said your lack in faith disturbs me. And then he choked the guy to death.

      September 8, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
    • Neftali

      Fjordman, you wrote an eelelcxnt essay – as always.Allow me to add another suggestion : In order to defuse the "demographic time bomb" – i.e the uncontrolled multiplication within Islamic families – we have yet an option besides expelling them. An option not very different from the Chinese politics of "one child per woman".The average European woman gives birth to something between 1.4 (ethnic Italians) and 1.9 (ethnic Danes) children. An average Muslim women gives birth to something like 3.9 children, thus making a Muslim takeover by majority a matter of time only.Unless we reverse the copycat tradition and learn something from the Chinese – for a change. Let's say we implement a "two children per woman" politics. Such measures would hardly affect the average European family, and certainly not harm the average Muslim woman, who thereby could get rid of her shackles and eventually be given equal opportunities with her western sisters.Of course the Muslim men and the Imams would object – to put it mildly – but if it's the law of the land it's equal to all, so the "racial card" can't be played. And the "feminists" will have to reverse their old stance 180 degrees if they object to the law.At the same time the "over-population" issue could be solved – finally. Two children per woman is sufficient to uphold the present population and secure – or improve – the economies of the world. Especially in "third world" countries.But how to enforce it ? – Well, Muslims (and some Catholics) refuse to take "the pill", use condoms or similar items of birth control. What about them ?Here comes the tough part : In addition to economic incentives – like children's checks for two kids only – a mandatory sterilization would be required right after the second delivery. That's a minor, safe, painless, endoscopic procedure. easily performed under local anaesthesia everywhere. Still no "racial card" in play. Equal annoyance for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Would any woman object ?

      March 1, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.