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County officials called to testify in Murfreesboro mosque trial

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Rutherford County officials were called to testify in day three of a lawsuit filed in Chancery Court to stop the construction of a mosque near Murfreesboro.

Plaintiff Attorney Joe Brandon Jr. called county building and codes staff asking them why they have failed to investigate a complaint filed with their office last week on Sept. 21.

"Because of this court case," Building and Codes Director David H. Jones told the court. "That did hamper us from doing anything that requires us to enter the site."

The complaint was about a May burial on property of the proposed Islamic Center of Murfreesboro on Veals Road. Planning Director Doug Demosi testified Tuesday that he granted a type I conditional-use permit (CUP) for the burial. Plaintiffs contend the CUP was also a permit allowing Muslims to begin constructing a cemetery. No such permit has been issued, however.

Building and Codes Zoning Enforcement Supervisor Joanne Criswell testified her office hasn't had time to begin investigating the burial complaint because of the plaintiff's lawsuit.

"Mr. Jones said he'd have to wait on legal advice for the next step," Criswell told the court. "All I know is it was for court and that's it."

The complaint asked building and codes to make sure the body buried on the property was done so with proper drainage and lot line considerations.

County Commissioner Robert Peay, whose district includes the proposed site of the mosque, shared the concerns of the plaintiffs on being informed, but also asked for tolerance.

"I want tolerance back in our community," Peay told the court.

"Where does tolerance meet Sharia law? What tolerance are you asking the plaintiffs to swallow," Brandon asked.

"Tolerance for people to exercise their right to freely practice their religion in our community as protected by the United States Constitution," Peay replied.

Peay agreed with plaintiff assertions that government should do a better job informing the public, but saw a need to treat the mosque as they have any other religious institution.

"The law is very restrictive as to what we can do regarding religious institutions," Peay said.

Uses of right in county zoning ordinances allow site plan approval for religious institutions in residentially zoned areas without public comment. The rule is designed to avoid religious supremacists from mobilizing to deny other religions their Constitutional right to practice their faith.

The Tennessee Religious Freedom Act of 2008 made it virtually impossible for local governments to deny site plans for religious institutions. The new law requires officials show "clear and convincing evidence" of the government's reason for denying such site plans.

Plaintiffs contend a mosque is not a church and should not have been given the privilege of use of right under local and state law. Plaintiffs claim the mosque's political agenda to institute Sharia law disqualifies them as a religion.

"Are you aware that's all the plaintiff's have wanted from day one is to know whether this is a religious institution," Brandon asked Peay.

"The United States government recognizes Islam as a religion, and until otherwise they have  Constitutional rights," Peay said.

Chancellor Robert E. Corlew III recessed the trial until October 20 at 8:30 a.m. when he expects both sides to conclude within a couple of days.
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Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, RuCo
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Members Opinions:
September 29, 2010 at 7:35pm
Plaintiff's continue to argue that Islam is not a Religion and even George Bush called Islam a Religion in one of his speeches and he was elected with the Conservative vote.
Mr. Peay and Mr. Demosi are correct in treating a Mosque as any other Religion; had he not done this the Islamic Center could have sued the County.
I don't really understand the concerns about Sharia Law affecting Murfreesboro at this time; or is it like the movie "Minority Report" where crimes are prosecuted in advance!
Finally, why is Ms Moore involved in this suit, she doesn't even live in Rutherford County.

PS: Why don't you post all comments?
September 29, 2010 at 10:55pm
We are fortunate to have Doug Demossi!
September 29, 2010 at 11:26pm
This is about 2 things:

1 - Growing the base.
2 - Making it to the Supreme Court to argue that Islam is not a religion but rather a political system.
September 30, 2010 at 8:36am
Well, at least Murfreesboro is becoming a household name. This ought to do a lot to bring businesses into the community.
September 30, 2010 at 12:28pm
Sharia Law was recently recognized in England as a valid system by which Muslims can now govern themselves...regardless of English Law. It supercedes English Law.
The Muslim religion by its very existance requires that a practicing Muslim be intolerant of any other religion. Why should we be tolerant of theirs? If the 2008 law had not passed here in Murfreesboro you can be assured they would be planning their Mosque in a different "tolerant" town.
September 30, 2010 at 1:21pm
momx5, Last time I checked we became independent of the English way of doing things 234 years ago.
September 30, 2010 at 5:54pm
momx5, shame on you. "They don't tolerate us so why should we tolerate them?" What are you, twelve? This isn't a playground, it's the real world. Grow up.

I know many practicing muslims. Never once have they been intolerant of my religion, nor have they ever imposed theirs onto me. In fact, it's the CHRISTIANS who are knocking on my door all the time trying to convert me.

Muslims have been practicing their religion in rutherford county for decades. Not a single head has been chopped off, nor has any judge been forced to rule using sharia law.
September 30, 2010 at 5:58pm

"In September 2008, newspapers in the United Kingdom stated the government had "quietly sanctioned" the recognition of Sharia courts. This refers to situations where both sides in a legal dispute freely choose a Sharia court as a binding arbitrator rather than taking a matter before the official courts. The decision did not break new ground: the decisions of similar Jewish beth din court arbitrations have been recognized in England for over 100 years.[150] Neither party can be forced into arbitration by a Sharia or a Jewish court."

October 04, 2010 at 8:40pm
On the whole, Islam is very clear in teaching that there is no equality between believers and unbelievers, and hence no basis for a relationship of peers. Those who do not profess Muhammad are intended to exist in subjugation to those who do, then spend eternity in Hell. This does not preclude Muslims from acting friendly toward others, of course, but this does not constitute friendship as it is generally understood in the modern world.

October 06, 2010 at 4:43am
Islam is NOT a religion. It is a cult and should not be allowed. It is time we started distinguishing CLEARLY between unthreatening religions and threatening cults in America. There is a HUGE difference. The distinction is clear.
October 06, 2010 at 4:44am
Islam is akin to Jim Jones and the past Waco cults. Do we want to keep allowing these destructive cults? No. We must stop them NOW before they get a further foothold.
October 06, 2010 at 4:48am
caronhalt... you hit the nail on the head. The problem with Islam is that there are passages that some Muslims take literally that seem to say killing is alright. This loophole was recently talked about on the news.
October 15, 2010 at 2:02pm
My problem with Islam and other fundamentalist religions Christianity included is that they are so sure they know what God/Allah thinks; and that if you do not believe as they do you are going to hell. I work with a very religious man, he is a good man but follows certain dietary "laws" he does not eat pork because it has the foot of the devil. I think it is amazing that ancient people figured out that when you ate pork you got sick. Well it was probably trichinoses a parasite that caused the problem not the pigs foot!. When you take idea's from 2000 years ago literally and do not temper those ideas with what we have learned you are consigned to be rigid and intolerant. I do not believe Jesus, or Mohammad would have been so closed to others idea's.
October 17, 2010 at 4:55pm
A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy,education,and social ties and needs;no religious basis is necessary.
Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.
Albert Einstein
Also read a great quote by the 6th US president[ go and Google ],it's about Islam,it's as true today as when he,John Quincy Adams wrote it,approx:180 years ago.
October 17, 2010 at 5:02pm
In 57 countries is'nt Islam a political system?
October 31, 2010 at 4:54pm
You will have second thoughts about islam in the United States.
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