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. Jack

    It's sad this is even such a big deal

    September 4, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
  2. Van

    Sad that in America, a land built partly on religious freedom would be so close minded. If people were truly Christians they would trust God in this matter.

    September 4, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
  3. LD

    My question is where did the $300,000 come from to construct the new facility? All that money from only 200 Muslim families? Hmmmmm. makes one wonder doesn't it. Where is protest by peaceful muslims against those who have killed, maimed, and persecuted other people?

    September 4, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • HinduMan

      If each family gave $1000, they would have $300,000. It's really not that much money

      September 4, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • HinduMan

      $200,000, my bad. I'm sure some people donated more than that. Churchgoers donate a lot of money to church

      September 4, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
    • Erin

      Well, if each person donates $1,000 dollars and there is 200 muslims that equals $200,000 so if estimated that each person donated $1,000 or a little bit more,,,, they would have 300,000 dollars... Just an FYI they ran one fundraiser and the mosque was able to reach there goal of $350,000.. I don't believe it was a source from overseas...if that is what ur insinuating....I pray

      September 5, 2011 at 12:04 am |
  4. LeZouave

    Fact: 'Prophet' Mohammad wanted Islam to conquer the world, the goal is to make every human being a Muslim. It is the 'secret' goal of Islam and building a mosque in TN is part of the plan too.
    Fact: it say in the Koran that a man have the right to beat his wife because it is his property. There was a debate in Lebanon recently to make domestic violence punishable by law; the Muslim clergy opposed it because it is against their religion.
    I am for freedom of religion and love this country. But remember where the 9/11 hijacker got support before they commit their crimes. It was a mosque build like this one in Fairfax, VA where Muslim 'citizen' just wanted to pray! wake up America.
    CNN stop being naive and start showing the picture.. Thank

    September 4, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
    • republicanblackguy

      True. Very true. America needs to wake up before its too late.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
    • Don

      Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!

      Protip: people who use "wake up" tend to not have anything valid to say.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
    • fsualum

      You are ignorant and have obviously not read the Bible. (I'm Catholic by the way) All of the books have violence. The Bible, the Quran, the Torah, etc. Here's a quote from the bible...

      Deuteronomy, Chapter 25, 11-12 (and this is taken from the Vatican's official website)
      "When two men are fighting and the wife of one intervenes to save her husband from the blows of his opponent, if she stretches out her hand and seizes the latter by his private parts, you shall chop off her hand without pity."

      That's pretty violent if you ask me. Also, don't forget the Crusades, the Inquisition, and all those priestly molestations.

      I don't paint Catholicism with a broad brush.
      This is just plain old bigotry.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
  5. republicanblackguy

    I watched the CNN special. Overall, this has been an issue in our country and abroad-especially abroad. Look at England, France, Germany along with other European countries. You see the constant protests on both sides of the field and wonder why all of that is happening. Islamic extremism which led to terroristic activities that occured along with foiled terror plots as well. Because the European countries are appeasing to the Muslim's needs, look what is happening. Muslims make a choice to live in those countries and the United States. If you [in general] leave your country and live in another you need to assimilate to their culture. And personally, I am against Mosques being built in the United States. I lived in Bahrain, which is by Saudi Arabia. NO churches were seen over there. Do you think the government in Bahrain would allow you to build a church? No. Try that in other Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Iraq...They would shut you down. You cannot go into their country and request a church built so you can practice your religion. But, it is okay for Muslims to do that in the United States for the solid reason of "Freedom of Religon". If you [in general] want to practice your religion within YOUR home, cool, whatever. But, asking to build a Mosque in your area is totally different. The United States is on its way to be like Europe when it comes to appeasing to everyone and becoming so politically correct. If Muslims have a problem with that, then they should move to a different country. Like I said, do you think you can build a church in an Islamic country? If you think so, you have another thought coming. If a Mosque can be built here, Churches should be built in Islamic countries to settle the score.

    September 4, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
  6. brunokraiske


    September 4, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
  7. chuck

    the terrorists slowly work their way into society...a mosque is constructed where they can concentrate anti-american activities. Hopefully true americans will not let them go forward with this terrorist center.

    September 4, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
    • AnnieS

      Spoken with true stereotypical ignorance. There is so much irony in your position and statement but, I imagine it escapes you.

      By the way, Europeans came here to escape the very religious persecution you espouse. Those Europeans are the foundation of the American experience. They represent why we are Americans and why we honor the First Amendment.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
    • Uncle Sam

      I never knew there were so many COWARDS in Murfreesboro, TN. Who would have guessed that so many weak minded people would have congregated in one little Po-dunk spot on the map. The whole lot of y'all wouldn't make a pimple on a real American's ass.
      Looks like the "God Fearing" Christians here are not just fearing God, but anything that comes down the road. Threatening to burn these folks out... you should be ashamed of yourselves.
      WWJD – I don't think you really want to know, but I don't want to be anywhere near your Little Town of Horrors when the good Lord decides to make an example of it.
      Yeah, you've got lots to fear, but it ain't the Muslims, its your own cowardice.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • Rachel Campbell

      Good call Uncle Sam. My sentiments exactly. And that comes from someone very near to PoDunk Murpheesboro. Makes me ashamed to be a TNean.

      September 5, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
  8. Sal

    After that building is built I can see some jewish lightning doing a job on it.....

    September 4, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • chuck

      yes jewish lightning cures many problems.

      September 4, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
  9. Sal

    And NO, I don't trust them people because they let that religion lead their thinking. The good ones have to suffer along with the bad ones........

    September 4, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • JF

      "they let that religion lead their thinking"

      I agree with you, and none of the other religions out there do that. Am I right?

      September 4, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • chuck

      no muslim should be trusted because in the koran they are told to willfully deceive infidels...just as the town of murfreesboro and its people are being deceived about the purpose of this mosque. One day the real nature of this center will be known...as a place to teach terrorists how to bomb innocent people.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
  10. Sal

    The problem that I have with most muslims is that their allegiance is to that damn religion of theirs and not to this country! 

    September 4, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • JF

      A problem I have with Christians is they think this country's government has an allegiance with them.

      September 4, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  11. Sal

    And once it"s built I can understand why some would want to burn it down. Why the elle would they want to built that thing in the middle of the baptist bible belt anyway? 

    September 4, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • ls

      Perhaps because that is where their home is. What a concept. Wanting to practice freedom of religion in your home town in the United states of America!!! What are they thinking!!!

      September 4, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
  12. tarura

    Thanks to political correctness – SHAME AND DISGRACE CAME TO AMERICA IN FORM OF ISLAM

    September 4, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  13. Damyu

    How would it go if, let's say, if we build a Christian cathedral/ youth center complex in Saudi Arabia??? I can already feel the warm embraces of the local community.

    September 4, 2011 at 9:44 am |
    • paperjihad

      What does that have to do with the US and the First Amendment? Is it to be justice or pettiness?

      September 4, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • sam

      Maybe you've never left your neighborhood but there are thousands of Christians churches and as hundreds of synagogues
      all over the Muslim world. Please check google and use keywords like churches, Morocco, algeria, egypt... I have travelled to many countries in the Arab and Muslim world I can tell you I've seen hundreds of churches...

      September 4, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • Matt

      The argument that the US should be more like Saudi Arabia is probably not the one you are trying to make...

      September 4, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
  14. Reality

    Geting to the "nitty-gritty":

    What instigated the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon? And what drives today's 24/7 mosque/imam-planned acts of terror and horror? The koran, Mohammed's book of death for all infidels and Muslim domination of the world by any means. Muslims must clean up this book removing said passages admitting that they are based on the Gabriel myth and therefore obviously the hallucinations and/or lies of Mohammed. Then we can talk about the safety and location of mosques and what is taught therein. Until then, no female or male Muslim can be trusted anytime or anywhere..................................

    September 4, 2011 at 8:00 am |
    • Garrick Harris

      Better to just ban Islam in America! These people do not fit in our free Christian society. There is no doubt about it! No matter how CNN and people who post here, who know nothing about Islam try to pretend. Islam will attempt to take down America and our freedoms. That is the only reason Islam is here. To end Christianity and America as we know it. So next time you see a Muslim, with their dressed in Muslim clothes, with their cell phone tucked in their Burka, and waring Air Jodans understand that is the devil here in America. There only thought is to kill Christianity. Islam is the only true evil in the world today. Stop it!

      September 4, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • Reality

      "Islam is the only true evil in the world today."


      Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

      Current evils:

      Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

      September 4, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • Don

      What instigated the attack on 9/11? Oh, all the dirty tricks the US federal government had been doing in the middle east for over a decade. It's called "blowback"; read up on it.

      September 4, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • Reality

      Some elements of our War on Terror and Aggression:

      -Operation Iraqi Freedom- The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US Troops killed in action, 3,481 and 924 died in non-combat, 99,901 – 109,143 Iraqi civilians killed as of 3/3/2011/, mostly due to suicide bombers, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ and http://www.defenselink.mil/news/casualty.pdf

      – Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan: US troops 1,141 killed in action, 242 killed in non-combat situations as of 03/03/2011. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror,

      – Sa-dd-am, his sons and major he-nchmen have been deleted. Sa-dd-am's bravado about WMD was one of his major mistakes. Kuwait was saved.

      – Iran is being been contained. (beside containing the Sunni-Shiite civil war in Baghdad, that is the main reason we are in Iraq. And yes, essential oil continues to flow from the region.)

      – North Korea is still u-ncivil but is contained.

      – Northern Ireland is finally at peace.

      – The Jews and Palestinians are being separated by walls. Hopefully the walls will follow the 1948 UN accords. Unfortunately the Annapolis Peace Conference was not successful. And unfortunately the recent events in Gaza has put this situation back to “squ-are one”. And this significant stupidity is driven by the mythical foundations of both religions!!!

      – – Fa-na–tical Islam has basically been contained to the Middle East but a wall between India and Pakistan would be a plus for world peace. Ditto for a wall between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

      – Timothy McVeigh was exe-cuted. Terry Nichols escaped the death penalty twice because of deadlocked juries. He was sentenced to 161 consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole,[3][7] and is incarcerated in ADX Florence, a super maximum security prison near Florence, Colorado. He shares a cellblock that is commonly referred to as "Bombers Row" with Ramzi Yousef and Ted Kaczynski

      – Eric Ru-dolph is spending three life terms in pri-son with no par-ole.

      – Jim Jones, David Koresh, Kaczynski, the "nuns" from Rwanda, and the KKK were all dealt with and either eliminated themselves or are being punished.

      – Islamic Sudan, Dar-fur and So-malia are still terror hot spots.
      – The terror and tor-ture of Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo and Kuwait were ended by the proper application of the military forces of the USA and her freedom-loving friends. Ra-dovan Karadzic was finally captured on 7/23/08 and is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the law of war – charges related to the 1992-1995 civil war that followed Bosnia-Herzegovina's secession from Yugoslavia.

      The capture of Ratko Mladić: (Serbian Cyrillic: Ратко Младић, pronounced [râtkɔ mlǎːditɕ], born 12 March 1943[1][2]) is an accused war criminal and a former Bosnian Serb military leader. On May 31, 2011, Mladić was extradited to The Hague, where he was processed at the detention center that holds suspects for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).[3] His trial began on 3 June 2011.

      – the bloody terror brought about by the Ja-panese, Na-zis and Co-mmunists was with great difficulty eliminated by the good guys.

      – Bin Laden was executed for crimes against humanity on May 1, 2011

      September 4, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
  15. paul

    They can build but will it stay built? There are real crazy people out there. But seriously another incident of the magnitude of 911 and its curtains for islam in the USA. This is because the people will rise and take care if islam once and for all.

    September 4, 2011 at 7:54 am |
    • mullah hajdar

      start with me.my gun is oiled and ready.

      September 4, 2011 at 9:36 am |
    • paperjihad

      I think most people know better and don't confuse extremists with the taxi driver who gets them to work every morning, or the doctor who saves their lives. It seems a bit hypocritical though, given the number of Iraqis who have died or were tortured Abu Ghrayb style due to an invasion and war we waged based on entirely false pretenses (still waiting for those WMDs....). Oil s far more precious to the US than blood that happens to belong to a Muslim, and yet I see such hateful posts here complaining about Muslim aggression.

      September 4, 2011 at 10:19 am |

      Hey mullah,be very very careful what you wish for boy,it could come sooner than you think

      September 5, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  16. Xenia

    Anything is better than the brutal atheism. Muslims will save the history-ignorant America because Americans did not listen to the gentle Christians.

    September 4, 2011 at 3:55 am |
    • Reality

      Is there no end to this "red-neck" lady's inanity??

      September 4, 2011 at 8:02 am |
  17. TheRationale

    I love how some theists can point out how ridiculous other religions are but can't see why their own is just as foolish.

    Islam is violent/problematic. Gee, keen insight there. But Christianity isn't also ignorant and hateful and untenable in the face of logic and science? Tis a sad comedy to watch.

    September 4, 2011 at 1:44 am |
  18. rich

    I am from Oregon, how many people know of the attempted bombing of the hundreds of assembled families who were celebrating the Holidays in downtown Portland about a year ago? My guess is not many. Can you guess the traitor's name? It's not too difficult actually. It was Muhammed Mohammed. Seems to me that when the first islamists obtain nuclear weaponry it's all over. It's only a matter of time. Politically correct multi-culturalism will not protect anyone when the atoms start splitting.

    September 4, 2011 at 1:17 am |
  19. BG

    Well, it seems that the sugar cubes have already been passed around in here. None left for me.


    September 3, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
  20. FedupinNY

    Just great, another Islamic terror training center being built in NY. Wake up people, since 9/11 35 HOMEGROWN terrorist attacks have been stopped. We are facing the third and final Jihad. Muslims want to convert the world to Islam, and they will do so by force, or by infiltration.

    September 3, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
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About this blog

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.