Attorneys for the U. S. Department of Justice appeared in Chancery Court Friday as plaintiffs entered their sixth day of testimony in a lawsuit to stop the construction of a Murfreesboro area mosque.
U.S. Attorneys for the Middle District of Tennessee spent more than an hour with the court behind closed doors to prevent plaintiffs from sharing subpoenaed information in an ongoing arson investigation at the future site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro.
"Do you know who set this fire," Plaintiff Attorney Joe Brandon, Jr. asked Detective Randy Groce to sustained objection. "Isn't this fire the same tactic used in the Middle East," Brandon asked to yet another sustained objection.
Chancellor Robert E. Corlew III took the opportunity to remind counsel not to raise the ongoing investigation again.
"Is your idea of an afterlife strapping a bomb to your chest and blowing yourself up so you can get you some virgins," Brandon asked Detective Groce to sustained objections on relevance.
Brandon continued to indirectly address an amicus curiae filing by the federal government on Monday by asking witnesses opposed to the mosque how they feel being targeted by President Barack Obama.
"How does it make you feel that we have a President who says, 'I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction,'" Brandon asked several witnesses.
"It does bother me that the federal government has come here to Murfreesboro to tell us not to cross a line," plaintiff's witness Elizabeth Coker said on the stand.
"Are you aware the American Psychiatric Association has become Sharia compliant with regards to female genital mutilation," Brandon asked Coker to sustained objections. The question led Chancellor Corlew to note what he called the capricious nature of Brandon's questioning.
Under several sustained objections over hearsay and relevance, Coker shared with the court several items from a local Muslim's Myspace page. Coker said she feels the information should have made county officials investigate local mosque members before their May 24 approval of a mosque site plan.
"Here's some AK-47s and guns," Coker said holding up pictures to the court. "Here's a picture of a Qur'an. And this is President Bush with a Jewish cap on his head."
Coker filed a complaint on Sept. 20 with the county over an approved type-I burial that occurred on the proposed site of the mosque on May 18. An investigation subsequently found no codes were violated.
When asked what more she'd have the county government do, Coker suggested county officials should not treat Islam like a religion.
"When someone is not native born and we don't know what their message is, we should investigate and bring in Homeland Security and the F.B.I. before any permit is allowed," Coker said on the stand.
"When you have a congregation speaking Arabic and you don't know what they are saying, then that I have a problem with that," Coker added.
Corker went on to say she once believed Islam was a religion, but that 9-11 changed her mind.
Plaintiff Lisa Moore gave a moving account of her recollection of 9-11 before expressing her fear of what the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro would bring to America if it's allowed to be built.
"I believe irreparable harm will come to me and my community if this court allows Sharia law to take a foothold in this community," Moore told the court.
"Are you aware that Islam has exterminated 278 million people since its inception," Brandon asked Moore.
With that last question, Corlew asked counsel to approach the bench and used the opportunity to call recess until 9 a.m. Friday Nov. 12.