Mosque opponents have full second day in court

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Attorneys in a lawsuit seeking to stop construction of a mosque in Murfreesboro spent a full second day focused on one witness.

Rutherford County Planning Director Doug Demosi took the stand in Chancery Court enduring hours of examination. Plaintiff's attorney Joe Brandon Jr. lashed out at Demosi under several sustained objections, some for "badgering the witness."

"Did you do anything to determine this was a religious meeting place," Brandon asked Demosi in reference to a May 24 site plan approval for a new mosque on Veals Road.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit contend through witness testimony that the proposed Islamic Center of Murfreesboro (ICM) does not meet the standard of a religious meeting place. Plaintiffs argued in court area Muslims want to institute Sharia Law in Murfreesboro and say Demosi and county officials should have investigated the political agenda of Muslim members before approving mosque site plans.

"The county can make no law that gives preferential treatment or unduly burdens the free practice of religion," Demosi told the court.

"What if Osama bin Laden had filed for approval of a mosque? Would you have done anything differently," Brandon asked to the sustained objection of County Attorney Jim Cope.

Brandon attempted to show the court Demosi would not go above and beyond his legal obligations to inform the public that a mosque would be built in their neighborhood.

"Are you suggesting you would give approval to a mosque with a connection to Jihad or without any assurances bodies are buried deep enough so they don't stink," Brandon asked Demosi.

Plaintiffs argued they should have been given notice before approval of a burial on the property, but defense attorneys showed such approval does not require public comment or proof there is a dead body.

"If someone came in wanting approval to bury a body, I have to assume that's what they want to do," Demosi said.

Brandon sought to show Demosi's conditional-use permit approving a May burial on the site of the proposed mosque constituted unilateral approval of a cemetery. The defense showed, however, that such approval is separate and has not yet been granted by the county.

Under county zoning regulations, the Rutherford County Regional Planning Commission approves burial requests and leaves issues of how a body is buried in the county to the state.

Plaintiffs also sought unsuccessfully to prevent a documentary film maker from joining cameras from CNN, WTVF (CBS), WZTV (FOX), WKRN (ABC) and WSMV (NBC).

Another plaintiff was also dropped from the case yesterday under an order of non-suit.

James Estes, an outspoken opponent of the proposed mosque was one of six original plaintiffs. Two plaintiffs were removed by amendment when they were erroneously included by Brandon. Plaintiffs Kevin Fisher and Lisa Moore were the only two who appeared in court today.

Chancellor Robert E. Corlew III set two hours aside tomorrow to continue the lawsuit beginning at 8:15 with subsequent dates of Oct. 20-22 to wrap up the case.
Read more from:
Doug Demosi, Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Jim Cope, Joe Brandon, RuCo
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Members Opinions:
September 28, 2010 at 10:30pm
Looks as if the Religious Right, or so they would like to known as, are hard at work trying to prove their Religion is Better than another's. It seems to me that Christianity is on trial here because as Christian's there should be no denying Religious Freedom for anyone; if they do then they are failing to live by Christ's example and are creating their own brand of Christianity!
September 29, 2010 at 7:34am
No Farmall, it wasn't "snuck in." Everything went through the proper channels. It was only after it was done that the bigots started paying attention.
September 29, 2010 at 4:00pm
A post by Farmall has been deleted for violating The Murfreesboro Post's Terms of Service.
September 29, 2010 at 4:14pm
If you would read more carefully she didn't specifically call you a bigot, Farmall. But refered to "the bigots." You on the other hand directly insulted her.
September 29, 2010 at 4:51pm
Farmall, it's important to not that permits for expansion are not the same as site plan approvals. The ICM site plan approval happened exactly the same as World Outreach Church. Both have 12 months from approval of a site plan to obtain necessary permits. The ICM only has a land disturbance permit. They have yet to obtain any construction permits and will have to go through the same entire long process as World Outreach Church or any other religious institution. We should all stand up for that level of equal treatment and protection under the law and not give in to our ignorance of either the law or other religions practicing freely in the greatest nation on earth.
October 04, 2010 at 2:23pm
The truth of who is really behind the anti-mosque movement, not only here in Murfreesboro but across the country and even in Europe, will be revealed:

"Plaintiffs also sought unsuccessfully to prevent a documentary film maker from joining cameras from CNN, WTVF (CBS), WZTV (FOX), WKRN (ABC) and WSMV (NBC)."

What are they so afraid of? What's one more camera?
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