U.S. disputes claim that Islam is invalid faith
Islam is a valid religion that is entitled to constitutional
protection, says a U.S. attorney who stepped into a debate about a
proposed mosque and Islamic center in Tennessee.
"To suggest that
Islam is not a religion is quite simply ridiculous," said U.S. Attorney
Jerry Martin of Nashville in a statement October 18. "Each branch of
the federal government has independently recognized Islam as one of the
major religions of the world."
Martin's statement comes after a
group of landowners in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, filed suit to stop
construction of a 52,000-square-foot mosque and Muslim community center
in Rutherford County.
Opponents questioned Islam's validity as a
religion that's entitled to First Amendment protection. They also
claimed that county officials did not inform the public in advance of
the county commission meeting at which the plans for the center were
The U.S. Department of Justice filed a brief in the
lawsuit warning Rutherford County officials that refusing to recognize
Islam as a religion and denying Muslims religious land use rights would
violate civil rights laws.
"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, synagogues or any other religious
assemblies," said Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for civil
rights, in a statement from the Department of Justice.
officials are continuing an arson investigation at the site of the
proposed Islamic center after construction equipment was set ablaze in