First Prayer Service Held At Murfreesboro Mosque Friday
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP/NewsChannel 5) - The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro held its first
prayer service inside their new mosque Friday, nearly two years after opponents
began a two-year court battle trying to stop it.
Midday prayers were held in the new building Friday, just days after county
officials issued a temporary occupancy permit following a final
inspection. More than 150 members of the Muslim community packed into the new
mosque for the prayer service. Mosque leaders wanted to make it clear that they
are just as much a member of the Murfreesboro community as anyone else.
"We fight terrorist acts just like everybody else," said the new Islamic
Center of Murfreesboro Board Chairman Essam Fathy. "Whoever you think is a
terrorist, is our enemy too. They hurt me; they hurt our families, and hurt our
economy. They are bad people to everyone, including to all of us.
One visible opponent of the mosque was on-site, but he says his purpose was
not to protest but to share the gospel and his faith with his new neighbors.
Construction was nearly halted in May when a state court ruled the public
didn't get enough notice that the center was planned. Last month, a federal
judge granted the mosque's request for an emergency order that would open the
building in time for the holy month of Ramadan, which is still under way.
The temporary permit runs until mid-October, allowing the contractors time
to finish the landscaping and some other last tasks.
Mosque leaders said they hope the joy the worshippers feel can now be shared
by the community southeast of Nashville.
The 12,000-square-foot mosque replaces a smaller one that's been used for 30
years. It includes a school and a gym.
Opposition to the new mosque has included a lawsuit, a large rally,
vandalism, arson and a bomb threat.
Recently, members of Grace Baptist Church put up several white crosses along
Bradyville Pike, alongside the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro.
They said the crosses are a statement of their Christian faith and their
feelings towards the new mosque.
Officials for the Islamic Center said they aren't upset, and believe they
must love their neighbors.