A new mosque in Tennessee will not be open in time for the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on Thursday night, because it still has to pass codes inspections. Even so, members of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro are glad the process is underway, thanks to a last-minute order in federal court.
Construction isn’t quite done at the new mosque – one official says they still have to hang exit signs over doors, and get the fire marshal to check the sprinkler system. Even so, Saleh Sbenaty (Sbi-NAH-tee) says they’re close, and that has members of the congregation upbeat.
“The prospect is that this ordeal that we’ve went through for the last two and a half years almost is going to be over very soon. It’s getting everybody excited and happy.”
In building the bigger mosque, the congregation faced vandalism, arson, lawsuits and a bomb threat that led to a federal indictment last month. Following the judge’s order to proceed this week, Sbenaty says the mosque has been flooded with congratulatory phone calls and emails from strangers all over:
“From not only from this country but from other countries, because we stood up for bullying, we stood up for accusations, and we held tight to our constitutional rights.”
Earlier this summer opponents of the mosque who tried to tie it to terrorism had it delayed in court. Despite having to miss the beginning of Ramadan, Sbenaty hopes to worship in the new facility before the holy month ends in August.