Mosque Will Not Open In Time For Ramadan - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Mosque Will Not Open In Time For Ramadan

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MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP/NewsChannel 5) - Despite a federal judge issuing a temporary restraining order to allow the Murfreesboro Mosque to go through the inspection process, it will not open in time for the start of Ramadan.

Leaders of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro said Rutherford County Codes Director David Jones came to the property Thursday morning, without scheduling a time to meet them. The holy month of Ramadan starts at sundown Thursday.

They said despite Wednesday's victory in federal court, there is still work to be done before they could pass an occupancy inspection.

That inspection could happen in the coming weeks, which would allow them to finally move-in.

Phone calls to Jones' office Thursday haven't been returned.

The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro sued Rutherford County on Wednesday and asked U.S. District Judge Todd Campbell for an emergency order to let worshippers into the building before the holy month of Ramadan starts at sundown Thursday.

Federal prosecutors also filed a similar lawsuit.

Attorneys for the mosque argued that the county judge violated the group's First Amendment rights, but at the end of the day both sides simply wanted to do right by the law.

"Our job is to follow the law, not to try to advocate for one side or the other. We just want to make sure the process is done appropriately, fairly and legally," said Rutherford County attorney Jim Cope.

"It's a time where we can say to everyone you can look to us here in America and learn from us that people have the right to practice any religion they want," added Islamic Center of Murfreesboro Imam Ossama Bahloul.

Attorneys said once the mosque opens, it will be hard for any court to shut it down.

The future of the mosque had been in question since May, when a local judge overturned the county's approval of the mosque construction. This month he ordered the county not to issue an occupancy permit for the 12,000-square-foot building.

The legal fight over the mosque has been ongoing since 2010.

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(The Associated Press Contributed To This Report.)

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