Islamic Center Of Murfreesboro v. Rutherford County, Tennessee

    • Vandals spray painted "Not Welcome" on this sign announcing the ICM's new mosque

    • The current mosque facilities are inadequate to hold the congregation

    • This tractor was intentionally set on fire at the construction site of the new mosque. Police continue to look for the perpetrator.

It was supposed to be like any other house of worship…

In 2010, the Muslim community in Murfreesboro, Tennessee began building a mosque and community center. Little did they know, their innocuous plans would incite a maelstrom of violence, bigotry and an ugly legal battle.

The Muslim community soon faced vocal protests from local residents who claimed among other things that Islam is not a religion, and that the First Amendment doesn’t protect Muslims.

Of course, this is an absurd charge, and Muslims have the right to practice freely just like any other religion.

Unfortunately, these hateful words were backed by even more hateful violence. There were numerous instances of vandalism and arson, and even a bomb threat that ended in a federal indictment.

Hostility to the mosque culminated in a lawsuit by local residents. Although the mosque was approved at a typical meeting of the county planning commission in 2010, after the county provided typical public notice, the judge ruled that such notice—standard compared to other religious groups—was not enough. Due to “tremendous public interest” surrounding the mosque, the county approval process is subject to a heightened legal standard when compared with other houses of worship.

The case is urgent—the congregation wants to be allowed to enter the mosque in time to celebrate Ramadan—the holiest time in the Muslim calendar.

The Becket Fund is stepping in on behalf of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro.

We are arguing that subjecting the mosque to a different legal standard than a Christian church violates the Free Exercise and Equal Protection Clauses of the Constitution. A double standard infringes on the guarantee of religious freedom for all.

No religion is an island; this case affects everyone. When the rights of one faith are abridged, the rights of all faiths are threatened.

On July 18, 2012, Chief Judge Todd Campbell of the Nashville federal district court ruled that Rutherford County, Tennessee must allow the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro in Murfreesboro, Tennessee to complete the inspection process so it can use its mosque building in time for the religious holiday of Ramadan.

Finally, on August 10, 2012, members of the Islamic Center used their newly built mosque for prayer services for the first time.

On May 29, 2013, the Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled that Rutherford County, Tennessee, properly approved the site plan for the mosque.

On June 2, 2014, the Supreme Court rejected the lawsuit, preserving the Becket Fund’s earlier victory in ensuring that the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro is free to continue meeting at its newly built mosque.

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Top Legal Documents:

Top Press Releases:

  • July 28, 2014, Press Release, Mosque Wins Right to Meet, Drops Lawsuit
  • June 2, 2014, Press ReleaseSupreme Court Rejects Attempt to Shut Down Mosque
  • July 18, 2012, Press ReleaseFederal Judge orders Tennessee County to allow mosque ability to open for Ramadan
  • July 18, 2012, Press ReleaseTennessee mosque sues in federal court for right to celebrate religious holiday
  • August 10, 2012, Press Release, Mosque Free to Open Today, a Win for All Religious Houses of Worship

8-10-12 Lori Windham on Fox News

  • July 28, 2014, Press ReleaseMosque Wins Right to Meet, Drops Lawsuit
  • June 2, 2014, Press ReleaseSupreme Court Rejects Attempt to Shut Down Mosque
  • July 18, 2012, Press ReleaseFederal Judge orders Tennessee County to allow mosque ability to open for Ramadan
  • July 18, 2012, Press ReleaseTennessee mosque sues in federal court for right to celebrate religious holiday

7-18-12, Luke Goodrich on Nashville News 5

8-10-12, Lori Windham on Fox News

3-24-11 CNN’s Unwelcome: Muslims Next Door