MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - After years of legal battles, public protests and even
an attack by a suspected arsonist, the Murfreesboro mosque opened its doors to
the public Sunday afternoon.
"It was something like a dream that was far away, and we really were
thinking, ‘When is it going to be a reality?'" remarked Essam Fathy who
chairs the Murfreesboro Islamic Center.
Tennessee's U.S. Attorney General as well as U.S. Assistant Attorney General
Thomas Perez were on hand to celebrate the official opening of the mosque.
Leaders for the mosque credit the U.S. Constitution as the overwhelming reason
why they were finally allowed to open their doors.
"You feel like you're leaning against a sturdy, strong wall, and that's
how we felt with the Constitution. It makes you feel comfortable,
supported," Fathy added.
There were no protesters or any hint of controversy at Sunday's celebration.
"I think the people who acted violently, menacingly toward this
congregation largely acted out of ignorance or misunderstanding, not knowing
the whole story," said Pastor Bryan Brooks of the Blackman United
Methodist Church in Murfreesboro.
Pastor Brooks says he understands why there may have been some issues at
first, but he believes the mosque will now help bring people together rather
than split them apart.
"A threat to anyone's freedom of religion is a threat to everyone's
freedom of religion," said Brooks.
The complete design for
the mosque calls for other portions to be added on later. Leaders hope any
additional construction will not be met with such resistance.