U.S. judge orders Tennessee county to let mosque open

July 19, 2012

By Michael Winter, USA TODAY

A federal judge has ordered that a Tennessee mosque must be allowed to open in time for the Islamic holy month, which begins Thursday.

The ruling, by District Judge Todd Campbell, came after the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro and federal prosecutors sued Rutherford County earlier in the day and sought an emergency order to let the congregation into the new, 12,000-square-foot building in time for Ramadan, The Tennessean reports.

“We are here to celebrate the freedom of religion and that the concept of liberty is a fact existing in this nation,” the mosque’s imam, Ossama Bahloul, told The Tennessean, published by Gannett, USA TODAY’s parent.

Campbell’s 14-day restraining order reverses an injunction by a local judge, who in May overturned the county’s approval of the mosque construction, saying county officials did not adequately notify the public. He ordered the county not to issue an occupancy permit.

In its lawsuit, the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division said the county judge’s order imposed an improper burden on the mosque members because of their religion, theAssociated Press writes. The Justice Department cited the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000.

The battle over the mosque began in 2010 after some residents claimed that Islam was not a genuine religion and that local Muslims wanted to supplant the U.S. Constitution with Islamic religious law.

Today, opponents claimed they had no notice of the day’s court action.

To read more, visit: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2012/07/us-judge-orders-tenn-county-to-allow-mosque-to-open/1#.UAddau7Y9wY

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