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Controversial TN Mosque to Officially Open Today With Midday Prayer

"We are hoping to build bridges with the rest of the community..."

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (TheBlaze/AP) -- It's been a long-fought battle, but it's finally opening day for a Tennessee mosque after opponents waged a two-year court battle trying to stop it.

Leaders of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro say they intend to hold midday prayers in the new building Friday.

Their quest to see the house of worship open took a turn in April when opponents of the then-proposed mosque made their case against it at trial. Then, construction was subsequently nearly halted in May when a state court ruled the public didn't get enough notice that the center was planned.

Last month, a federal judge granted the mosque's request for an emergency order that would open the building in time for the holy month of Ramadan, which is still under way.

The controversy came with some bizarre elements as well. Eric Allen Bell, a liberal filmmaker, came out in support of the mosque and even began putting together a film defending its creation back in 2012. Oddly, he reportedly changed sides this year and began fighting against the house of worship.

Rutherford County officials cleared the building for use by issuing a temporary occupancy permit this week. WBIR has more about the steps that will need to be taken to secure a permanent occupancy certificate:

David Jones, director of the county's Building Codes Department, said some landscaping work remains to be done at the mosque. Some minor work remains to be done on the fire alarm as well, said the state fire marshal's office.

Once that work is completed, a permanent occupancy permit can be issued.

"We are hoping to build bridges with the rest of the community, especially with those who might have second thoughts about our congregation," said mosque board member Saleh Sbenaty, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Mosque leaders say they hope the joy the worshippers feel can now be shared by the community southeast of Nashville.



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