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Tennessee Mosque Can Open; Imam Says America Is Better For That

Now that a federal judge has ruled that the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro in Rutherford County, Tenn., can open, the mosque's imam says muslims elsewhere should take notice.

"We set an example to people everywhere," Imam Ossama Bahloul said Wednesday, as our colleagues at Nashville Public Radio report. "We can look to the people in the middle or far east or in the middle of Africa saying to them 'America is the role model. Try to learn from us in America.' "

In The Tennessean, Bahloul is quoted as saying "the winner today is not an individual, the winner today is our nation and the fact that our Constitution prevailed."

As WPLN's Blake Farmer has reported for All Things Considered, "an ongoing court battle ... stalled the project, one of several Islamic centers around the country that, like the so-called ground zero mosque, have encountered resistance from local communities."

In Murfreesboro, Blake said, the dispute "started out as an attempt by mosque opponents to put the religion of Islam on trial." Local attorney Joe Brandon Jr. said he was fighting the possibility of Shariah law being imposed on the people of Rutherford County.

"Mosque leaders laugh at that idea," Blake reported last month, "and call the Shariah issues 'fabricated.' But for Brandon, it's a serious matter tied up with his own beliefs."

Now, says Nashville Public Radio, the mosque is hoping to open in time for the start of Ramadan at sundown today. But, "the new mosque still has to be inspected and get a certificate of occupancy from the county. Asked whether congregants could be in before Ramadan starts at sundown, a mosque official said 'we'll see.' "

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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