July 18, 2012
NASHVILLE – The ACLU and ACLU of Tennessee today joined with a broad coalition of religious groups and civil liberties advocates to issue a statement expressing our support for congregants of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, as they face celebrating yet another Ramadan without access to their newly-constructed mosque.
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The statement comes in the wake of a ruling by the Tennessee Chancery Court that prohibits the mosque from using its new facility until the County Commission corrects certain Open Meetings Act violations that occurred before the official vote to approve the new mosque.
The Chancery Court’s decision prompted the Islamic Center to file suit today in federal district court, arguing that the ruling violates the mosque’s rights under RLUIPA, the Free Exercise Clause, and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Islamic Center has asked the federal court to issue a temporary restraining order allowing congregants to hold worship services at their new facility starting tomorrow evening, when Ramadan commences.
The following can be attributed to Hedy Weinberg, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee:
“The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro now sits empty because of a protracted, two-year campaign by anti-Muslim groups. Rampant xenophobia is being fueled by the election season and its accompanying political posturing. But the First Amendment protects every Tennessean’s freedom to worship or not, regardless of his or her faith tradition. The ACLU of Tennessee wholeheartedly supports the mosque in its bid to protect religious freedom.”