Hey Folks, Islam is a Religion after all!

Ummm….thank you…I guess?

Murfreesboro mosque debate: U.S. Department of Justice says Islam is a religion

BY BRIAN HAAS • THE TENNESSEAN • OCTOBER 18, 2010

The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday waded into the debate over a proposed mosque near Murfreesboro on Monday, saying that Islam is a valid religion.

The department on Monday filed a brief in a lawsuit challenging the proposed mosque, arguing that Islam is an officially recognized religion and warning Rutherford County officials that treating Islam as anything other than a religion could violate civil rights laws.

U.S. Attorney Jerry E. Martin will be holding a 1 p.m. press conference today to discuss the brief.

The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro is in the process of trying to build new worship facilities after outgrowing their Murfreesboro location. About 18 months ago, religious leaders there decided to develop land they bought at Veals Road and Bradyville Pike to host their new 10,000-square foot center, which would house worship services, receptions, classrooms, a gym and a pool. Outside, they hope to build sporting areas, a playground, a pavilion and a cemetery on the 15-acre site.

Tensions have been high about the proposed mosque, with competing rallies in and around Murfreesboro both for and against the proposal.

Opponents of the mosque have filed suit against Rutherford County officials, accusing the county of not properly notifying the public about the proposal. The lawsuit also argues that Islam is not a valid religion, but a political movement that is looking to supplant U.S. laws with Muslim laws.

The Department of Justice in its brief was blunt of that assessment.

“Every court addressing the question has treated Islam as a religion for purposes of the First Amendment and other federal laws. No court has held otherwise,” the brief reads. “Islam falls plainly within the understanding of a religion for constitutional and other federal legal purposes…”

The Department of Justice brief does not argue whether the proposed center itself should be approved, only that Islam is an officially recognized religion.

Federal law enforcement officials continue to investigate the arson of construction equipment at the site of the proposed mosque.

Contact Brian Haas at 615-726-8968 or bhaas@tennessean.com.

 

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