EDITORIAL: Time for ruling on mosque lawsuit
THE DAILY NEWS JOURNAL • October 27, 2010
Rutherford County Attorney Jim Cope got it right last week when he used the term "circus" to describe Chancery Court hearings on construction of a Veals Road mosque.
In fighting the issuance of more building permits for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, the plaintiffs and their attorney, Joe Brandon, impugned the character of the county mayor, planning director, several county commissioners and the entire Islamic population — not just the Muslims living in Rutherford County — while also attacking the very essence of Islam as a religion. (link)
I have closely followed the story of the Murfreesboro Mosque trial in the Daily News Journal reports and from time to time I have followed the on-the-scene tweets of Scott Broden. This is high drama, and it is entertaining and disgusting. It is like watching a train wreck.
This trail would make a good screen play. If someone writes the screenplay they would probably not have to use a lot of creative license. The transcript of the trial would be sensational and entertaining enough. The screen play would make a good movie. It is the perfect sequel to the Scopes Monkey Trial. Like Scopes, it features religion, bigotry, and ignorance and takes place in a sleepy Tennessee town. (Well, Murfressesboro is not that much of a “sleepy” town but for the movie it could be portrayed as such.) I which I could have attended this trial. I did not view the trial in person but from what I read I could cast the characters and I can almost envision the movie version of the trial.
Here are some of the highlights and the twist and turns of the trial:
- Attorney for plaintiffs insinuated that County Mayor Ernest Burgess had a financial interest in seeing site plans approved.
- Plaintiff's attorney argued the single burial on the site could contaminate ground water.
- Plaintiffs argued that the Muslim faith is not really a religion and, "Shariah Law is the real issue."
- Frank J. Gaffney Jr, who is president of the the anti-Islamic, Center For Security Policy in Washington, D.C testified on the dangers of Shariah law but admitted he's not an expert in Shariah law.
There has already been six days of hearings that have spread over a month and the trial resumes November 11. Total cost to the Rutherford County taxpayers is estimated to exceed $40,0000. This is ridiculous. Get on with it!
The Muslim faith is clearly a religion and should not be on trial in Murfressboro. Planning commissions are to consider zoning, and land use and impact on traffic; they are not supposed to conduct investigations of the security risk of a project’s investors. They do not have the expertise or staff.
This trial should have been about the simply question of whether or not the County followed the sunshine law. If someone associated with the mosque project expressed sympathy for the Palestinians during the recent Gaza strip fighting between Hamas and Israel, that should be of no concern to the Planning Commission and should have no bearing over whether or not a building permit should be issued.
What is on trial in Murfressoboro is the First Amendment. I am rooting for religious liberty. End this circus, now!