Opponents of a proposed mosque in Murfreesboro, Tenn., spent the last two days arguing in court that Islam is not a religion and that the leaders of the mosque — which has been in the town, in a different location, for decades — preach jihad and a Sharia law takeover.
Three opponents of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro’s planned expansion have sued the county, claiming officials broke open meeting law when they approved the mosque’s building plan. The officials deny violating any laws. But the case quickly became, not about open meeting laws, but about Islam itself.“Are you aware that’s all the plaintiffs have wanted from day one is to know whether this is a religious institution,” the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Joe Brandon Jr., asked county commissioner Robert Peay, according to the Murfreesboro Post.
“The United States government recognizes Islam as a religion, and until otherwise they have Constitutional rights,” Peay said.
“I want tolerance back in our community,” Peay went on.
“Where does tolerance meet Sharia law? What tolerance are you asking the plaintiffs to swallow?” Brandon said.
“Tolerance for people to exercise their right to freely practice their religion in our community as protected by the United States Constitution,” Peay replied.
Brandon kept on that line of questioning throughout the hearing.
“Did you do anything to determine this was a religious meeting place?” Brandon asked the county planning director, Doug Demosi, according to the Post.
“The county can make no law that gives preferential treatment or unduly burdens the free practice of religion,” Demosi responded. Demosi also told the court that he had never been to a mosque.
“Sounds like you don’t know what a mosque is,” Brandon said, according to the Daily News Journal.
The hearing began Monday with testimony from renowned Sharia law fearmonger Frank Gaffney, and will resume on Oct. 20. The plaintiffs are asking for an injunction against the building of the mosque.
During questioning, Brandon accused county officials of hiding something — “Do you have a problem with transparency, sir?” he asked one — and argued, according to the Daily News Journal, that the mosque would be bigger than a Super Wal-Mart.
Demosi, the planning director corrected him. Each of the county’s Super Wal-Mart’s is 200,000 square feet — dwarfing the mosque’s planned 42,000 square feet.
Brandon also alleged that the county illegally approved the burial of two members of the Islamic center on their property.
“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?” he asked at one point.