After a trial that stretched more than two months and devolved into what many spectators called a circus that garnered international attention and ridicule, Rutherford County Chancellor Robert Corlew denied plaintiffs' request for a temporary injunction Wednesday afternoon.
The ruling means the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro can continue in the first phase of its project to build a 52,900-square-foot mosque and community center on Veals Road in Rutherford County, just outside Murfreesboro.
Corlew heard closing arguments Wednesday morning. Tom Smith, an attorney for the plaintiffs, alleged that the Murfreesboro congregation — which has been practicing in the same place, which it contends it has outgrown, for three decades — has ties with Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorist organizations. He said again and again that "the shadow of Sharia Law" had crept into Murfreesboro via the congregation's site-plan permit proceedings, which his side alleged were improperly held outside public purview.
Attorney Josh McCreary, representing the Rutherford County Planning Commission, said the proceedings had devolved into an overt display against Islam, and that the question over the fundamental legal issue — whether the ICM and the county followed open meetings law during the approval process for the congregation's site plan — was easily answered.
Joe Brandon Jr., the showman attorney for the plaintiffs, threatened at one point during his rebuttal that, were the chancellor to deny their request, he would depose and subpoena members of the ICM congregation and essentially drag out an underlying lawsuit to outright block construction of the mosque and community center.