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January 2010

First Sign Vandalizm "Not Welcome"

The sign which read "Future Site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro," is spray- painted with the words, "Not Welcome" in January. This sparks local media attention. It also marks the start of much support from the local community. A Murfreesboro sign company replaces the sign free of charge.

February 2010

Comunity Information dinner with Q & A

The following month ICM hosts an informational gathering at the Double Tree Hotel. Among the attendees are neighbors, friends, and politicians.

During the event, ICM staff share the history of the Muslim community in Murfreesboro, their aspirations as an organization, and their plans for their upcoming project. Management answers several questions from attendees in a show of full transparency. More than a 150 people attend this public event.

March 2010

Three Days Information Seminar

ICM holds a 3-day seminar and open house in March titled, "Islam & Muslims.” Prior to the seminar, an ad is placed in the DNJ inviting people to attend. The seminar includes information on topics such as the history of Islam, the history of Murfreesboro Muslims, and ICM members and their religious practices. Also discussed are details of ICM's new development plans.

April 2010

Site Plan Submitted

On behalf of ICM, Neuhoff Taylor Architects submits a request of approval for the entire site plan which is broken down into a 10-year developmental process. Prior to this, the commission runs an advertisement in the Murfreesboro Post which it had done for years for other local businesses. (Can you explain what kind of ad or its purpose? This is a bit vague. Should this say other local “organizations’? I don’t know which fits best.)

May 2010

Site Plans Approved


On May 24th, Rutherford County Planning Commission unanimously approves the plan for construction on the new building in May. County law does not require public hearings on religious construction projects and, therefore, takes a legal use- by- right approach. At this time, several other local religious buildings had been approved in a similar manner, including ICM’s neighboring Grace Baptist Church.

*Federal and state laws make it extremely difficult for local government bodies to deny building permits for religious institutions. * Additionally, no opponent of ICM was present during the meeting, however, business reporter with the DNJ Doug Davis attended.

June 2010

County Commission Hearing

Rutherford County Commission’s next hearing takes place on June 17th. More than 600 people attend. Many show up to protest ICM’s building approval. Some wear Christian- themed clothing or patriotic- themed clothing. During the public hearing portion of the meeting, many unscheduled speakers claim they were not aware of building plans until after those plans were approved. Opponents are harsh without warrant regarding ICM and critical of Islam itself. The public hearing lasts more than two hours and, at times, consists of very strong and hateful anti- Muslim statements and sentiments.

Politicians Weight In!

Several Tennessee politicians weigh in starting in the month of June; speaking out against ICM with verbal attacks against the center and, in some cases, Islam itself. Some of ICM’s loudest political opponents are Lou Ann Zelenik, Bill Ketron, and Ron Ramsey. Such negative remarks ignite national media attention as elections are soon approaching. Among the many hateful voices is one politician willing to speak up in support of ICM. At the time, Ben Lemming is a democratic candidate for a vacant representative’s seat in Tennessee’s 6th Congressional district.

July 2010

Second Sign Vandalizm: Sign Broken in half

A new site sign is vandalized. The sign which read “Future Site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro” is run over by a truck and breaks in half. No one is charged and no arrests are made. This time, ICM ops not to replace the sign although, again, many companies offer to do so for free.

Anti Muslims March

On July 14th, approximately 350 opponents of ICM march from Main Street to the Rutherford County Courthouse demanding local court to void ICM’s building permit. During this same time, a rally is organized by Middle Tennesseans for Religious Freedom. Approximately 500 supporters show up from all walks of life. In a huge display of solidarity, these individuals are a true indication of the support ICM will receive both locally and across the nation despite its struggles in coming months.

Billboard opposes Murfreesboro Islamic center

A billboard is placed on Old Fort Parkway in opposition to Murfreesboro Islamic Center. The message is displayed for approximately 30 days.

ICM Hold Open House

ICM holds an open house in July 26th with more than 300 people in attendance. Several of those attending are people in opposition to ICM. One person tries to plant an “anti- American Jihad promoting brochure” inside the building.

August 2010

Site Work Groundbreaking

Within the same month, The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro breaks ground on construction of its site work on August 14th, with the plan of starting its first phase of construction.

Pat Robertson Inflammatory Comments

In August, Local NBC affiliate WSMV reports that during a “700 Club” broadcast, evangelist Pat Robertson and co- host Terry Anne Meeuwsen suggest a bribery of a politician may have led to Rutherford County’s approval of plans for a Murfreesboro Mosque. Pat Robertson is quoted saying, “Imagine what $10,000 does to a small, local politician in a small, local town.” This media coverage brings more national attention to the developing situation in Murfreesboro.

Equipments Arsoned

On August 26th, an arsonist douses four excavators with an accelerant and sets one on fire, destroying it. The incident is investigated by the FBI AND ATF. Governor Phil Bredesen calls on state residents to “please have respect for anyone’s religious preferences and their right to practice those in the United States.”

Candle Vigil in support of ICM

Also in August, more than 150 local residents attend a candle- light vigil on the steps of the Rutherford Co. Courthouse on August 30th to protest the arson attack. Many Christians, some whose sons were fighting in Afghanistan, send messages of support to the ICM. The messages are then posted to a “wall of support” inside the building where Murfreesboro’s Muslims have been gathering. Hundreds of letters, emails, and even donations are received by the ICM in support of their rights.

Septmebr 2010

ATF & FBI Offer 20,000 Reward to Arson leads

In September, the FBI and ATF announce a $20, 000 reward for information leading to the perpetrator(s) of arson.

Planning commission meeting

The county commission's meeting held on September 16th is dominated by supporters of the ICM who say they represent the majority of opinions in Murfreesboro. Supporters are concerned the controversy is harming the reputation and morale of the town. Republican mayor and church elder of North Boulevard Church of Christ, Ernest Burgess, argues it is a matter of principle to uphold the constitution of the United States and state law.

Court Case Starts

In September, opponents of the proposed Islamic Center of Murfreesboro appear in Rutherford County Chancery Court to seek an injunction to stop construction of the new building site. Litigation is spearheaded by lobbyist Laurie Cardoza-Moore who leads a group called Proclaiming Justice to the Nation (PJTN,) which funds the lawsuit via donations. Testimonies are heard several times throughout a three- month process. A witness by the name of Timothy Jones Cummings Sr. admits PJTN has paid him thousands of dollars to read extracts to the court from anti-Muslim internet websites.

Religious Leaders Pledges

In late September, more than 20 religious leaders from Middle Tennessee gather at the ICM to eat and fellowship. Afterward, a pledge is made to support ICM in the fight for their rights.

October 2010

Amicus Brief in support of ICM

In October, The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division files an amicus brief in responce to the opposition allegations against Islam and ICM.

Within the brief’s summary, Islam is noted as a religion entitled to protection under the First Amendment to the constitution and consistent with all three branches of government.

It also states that ICM is places of religious worship, and that Rutherford County properly determined that it must treat the ICM project as it would other proposals for construction of places of worship.

November 2010

Judge Decides

In November 11th, Chancellor Robert E. Corlew denies the request to void ICM’s work permit and stop the construction of the new Islamic Center.

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