11/19/2010 08:52 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Tenn. Judge Refuses To Block Mosque Construction

By Daniel Burke
Religion News Service

(RNS) A Tennessee judge on Wednesday (Nov. 17) declined to halt the construction of a mosque in Murfreesboro in a case that drew national attention after opponents sought to put Islam itself on trial.

Rutherford County Chancellor Robert Corlew said the mosque's opponents failed to prove that local government officials broke any laws when they approved the construction of a 52,000-square-foot Islamic center last May.

Local Muslims say the new center is needed to accommodate their burgeoning congregation. Opponents argued that Islam is a violent political ideology that does not deserve the constitutional protections afforded to religions.

Critics also said mosque leaders had ties to radical Muslim groups, including Hamas. Corlew said there was no evidence that the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro practiced a militant form of Islam or would try to impose Islamic law upon residents of Rutherford County, according to
The Tennessean.

In his closing arguments, Joe Brandon Jr., a lawyer for the mosque opponents, suggested that he would appeal the ruling.

"I'm not gonna submit, I'm not going to convert, and I'm not going to back down," Brandon said, according to The Tennessean.