In this Section
After years of threats, attacks and court action, the Islamic Centre of Murfreesboro’s new mosque opened its doors on August 10, allowing 300 people to mark the occasion on Islam’s day of weekly public prayer. After the shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin on Sunday and an arson attack on a mosque in Missouri on Monday, the opening went off without the protests or violence that some had feared. Muslims from across Tennessee gathered at the 12,000-square-foot centre to begin the final week of Ramadhan. The congregation’s former building was so small that members often spilled into the parking lot and car-pooled to save parking spaces.
“We’re all humbly enjoying the right to worship, an American tradition that a small minority tried to eliminate out of ignorance and misunderstanding,” said Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. For two years, the opposition in this city of 110,000 about 30 miles southeast of Nashville has been small but vocal. In 2010, vandals painted “not welcome” on construction signs at the mosque and set fire to construction equipment. A Texas man was indicted in June on charges that he left messages threatening to detonate a bomb at the centre on Sept. 11.
In May, a county judge ruled that the construction plans had not received sufficient comment from the public and that an occupancy permit could not be granted. Federal prosecutors filed a discrimination lawsuit, and a federal judge ruled in the mosque’s favour last month.