The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division today filed an amicus brief in support of a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee that has met with community opposition and a lawsuit.
The brief was filed in a state court action in which a group of Murfreesboro landowners are attempting to stop construction of the mosque. The landowners have sued Rutherford County, Tennessee, which had granted permission for the construction of the mosque.
The department’s brief argues that Islam is a religion entitled to protection under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and points out that, “consistent among all three branches of government, the United States has recognized Islam as a major world religion.” It also argues that mosques are places of religious worship, and that Rutherford County properly determined that it must treat the mosque project as it would other proposals for construction of places of worship.
“A mosque is quite plainly a place of worship, and the county rightly recognized that it had an obligation to treat mosques the same as churches, synagogue, or any other religious assemblies," said Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez. "This is not only common sense; it is required by federal law."
The FBI and ATF were called to investigate an August suspicious fire at the mosque construction site.