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Judge Blocks Occupancy Certificate for New Mosque

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro will be allowed to continue construction of its new mosque, but may not be allowed to use the building once it’s complete.

Rutherford County Chancellor Robert Corlew last month voided construction approval for the mosque, saying the county didn’t provide proper notice for the meeting where it was approved.

However, county officials have not acted to stop mosque construction. At a hearing yesterday, plaintiffs asked presiding judge Robert Corlew to order county officials to do so.

Corlew declined, saying his ruling was not enforceable until after a 30-day appeal period. The county’ Planning Commission voted on Monday to appeal the decision. The full County Commission will take up the issue tonight.

Mosque spokesman Saleh Sbenaty says his faith community is having a hard time understanding why it’s being singled out.

“If, for example, everybody else was asked to reapply and their permits were voided, we will go ahead and apply like everybody else. But singling us out based on our faith only; this is not the United States.”

Murfreesboro’s Muslim community is hoping to celebrate Ramadan in the new building in late July, but may not get the chance. While Judge Corlew is allowing construction to continue, he told the county it would not be permitted to grant the mosque an occupancy certificate.