3:17pm

Wed July 18, 2012
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Murfreesboro Mosque Granted Immediate Occupancy

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/WMOT) — The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro (ICM) will be permitted to occupy its new mosque in time for Ramadan.

WTVF-TV is reporting that a federal judge issued an emergency restraining order Wednesday evening that compels county officials to grant immediate occupancy. The order means that ICM will likely get to celebrate Ramadan beginning Thursday evening in its new facility.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday afternoon that ICM and the Department of Justice (DOJ) had filed separate lawsuits. The filings requested an emergency injunction be granted providing immediate relief from a chancery court ruling that prevented the county from issuing a certificate of occupancy.

The ICM lawsuit claimed its constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and equal protection were being violated.  The DOJ lawsuit claimed that Rutherford County "violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act" when it complied with a chancery court ruling barring it from issuing a certificate of occupancy to the ICM.

Earlier this year, Rutherford County Judge Robert Corlew III overturned the county's approval of the mosque construction permit and told the county it could not issue an occupancy permit for the 12,000-square-foot building. Corlew found that the county didn't give adequate public notice for the meeting that approved the mosque.

In a press statement announcing the federal suit, Jerry E. Martin, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, stated that “If we do not protect the rights of these congregants in Rutherford County, then the rights of all people are endangered and diminished.”