12:22pm

Tue January 7, 2014
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Murf Mosque Again to Appear Before Zoning Appeals

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  Representatives of the Murfreesboro Islamic Center will again this week ask the Rutherford County Board of Zoning Appeals for permission to open a cemetery on the mosque’s Veals Road property.

Mosque leadership appeared before the board in early December seeking permission to bury their dead on the property. But on a three-to-two vote board members postponed making a decision. Some board members expressed concerns about traffic congestion at the site and about any possible environmental impact.

Mosque spokesman Saleh Sbenaty says he’s puzzled by the board’s hesitation, noting that there are more than 500 cemeteries in Rutherford County at present. But he says they’ll come prepared with the information requested.

“We have a geo-tech report that shows that there are 23, 22 feet of dirt before getting to rock. So hopefully that would be for the Board members to see and to grant us the permit.”

Sbenaty says mosque members are currently interred north of Nashville, making burials unnecessarily difficult and expensive.

“Muslims believe that visiting the dead, visiting the graves, will comfort their souls. Therefore this is kind of like an obligation to us to visit the graves and imagine if it is one hour-and-a-half away.”

Tomorrow evenings Zoning Appeals Board meeting is set to begin at 4:30 in the Rutherford County Courthouse. Sbenaty says the Mosque’s leadership is encouraging the congregation’s supporters to attend.