Judge rules against mosque opponents

Judge rules against mosque opponents

May 20th, 2011 by Associated Press in News

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - A judge has ruled that the construction of a mosque in Rutherford County does not harm the residents who sued the county over it, but allowed them to move forward on claims the county violated an open meetings law.

Plaintiffs' attorney Joe Brandon Jr. had argued that the mosque violated his clients' constitutional rights, claiming that the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro's members were compelled by their religion to subdue non-Muslims.

In his ruling issued Tuesday, Chancellor Robert Corlew dismissed a majority of complaints raised by the 17 plaintiffs, except on claims the county violated the state Open Meetings Act by not providing proper notice for the meeting where the mosque site plan was approved.

The court has not yet set a date to hear the open meetings complaint.

Brandon said in a statement Thursday that his clients could file a motion for reconsideration or appeal the judge's ruling and they are in the process of evaluating their options. But he noted that the case has been cleared for trial on the open meetings claims.

The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, which has operated in the county for more than two decades, sought to build a new mosque after outgrowing its building within the city. The county's approval brought vocal resistance from opponents and led to a series of rallies and counter-rallies for and against the project.