SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Imam Ossama Bahloul worries that a court ruling will prevent his Islamic Center of Murfreesboro congregation from occupying its new mosque in time for the July 20 start of Ramadan.
“Our dream is to have this,” the congregation’s religious leader said Wednesday as he offered a look at construction on the first phase of the mosque on Veals Road off Bradyville Pike. “We tried to explain to people we are not building a mega-mosque. The obvious fact is the Muslim community is being damaged.”
He noted that his congregation of about 1,000 people has been looking forward to moving into a building that should be ready in a few weeks.
“Unfortunately, they took the excitement away again,” Bahloul said. “All of this is gone now. The future of this is foggy.”
Chancellor Robert Corlew ruled Wednesday that the Rutherford County government can’t issue a certificate of occupancy for the mosque because of a previous ruling he issued voiding action at the 2010 planning meeting in which the mosque site plan had been approved.
Corlew’s previous ruling determined the county didn’t get proper legal notice about the meeting.
The chancellor reminded county officials Wednesday of his previous decision that they had the option to place the mosque construction plans back on a future meeting agenda, give proper adequate notice and vote on the issue without discriminating against the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro.
The Rutherford County Regional Planning Commission, however, voted Monday to appeal Corlew’s ruling and took no action to re-examine the site plans.
The County Commission, which is also named as a defendant, will go into private executive session near the end of its monthly meeting tonight. The commission meets at 6 p.m. in the second-floor courtroom of the County Courthouse on the Public Square in Murfreesboro.
A 1984 Tennessee Supreme Court ruling allows governing bodies to meet in private with their attorneys to ask questions and gather facts and information about litigation.
The commissioners must resume the public meeting before they deliberate or vote on what action to take on the case, such as appealing.
“Who can take the right away from the children?” asked Bahloul, adding his congregation has older members who’d like to be able to worship at their new mosque before they die. “Who has the right to take this joy away from them?”
Bahloul, though, is confident that his congregation will still be able to move into its new mosque soon.
“It will be a day for America to celebrate that liberty and freedom of religion remain a fact in our country,” Bahloul said. “This is something the constitution protects, freedom of religion.” — www.shafaqna.com