The opening of a Tennessee mosque -- beset for years with legal wrangling, vandalism and anti-Muslim sentiment -- won't happen until at least next week, a board member said Friday.
The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro had hoped this week to get its official certificate of occupancy, the final inspection needed for it to welcome worshipers for services during the holy month of Ramadan. According to the Fiqh Council of North America, Ramadan on the continent began July 20 and will end August 18.
But the final certificate has not come through, said Saleh Sbenaty, a board member and planning committee member for the Islamic center.
The mosque passed a fire inspection, but the local fire marshal needs more time to inspect its fire alarms, Sbenaty said. Authorities plan to return Tuesday to complete the inspection.
If the certificate is occupancy is granted after that final inspection, mosque leaders hope to hold a prayer service August 10, the second-to-last Friday of Ramadan.
And that would mean worshipers could be at the Islamic Center for Eid al-Fitr, the breaking of the fast at the end of Ramadan.
The controversy erupted in 2010, when planning commissioners approved an expansion project at the existing mosque.
The construction site has been vandalized several times, including an arson attack in 2010 and "not welcome" spray-painted on a sign announcing the project. Federal authorities have charged a Texas man with calling in a bomb threat to the center before last year's anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
In July, a federal judge in Memphis set aside a local judge's ruling from the previous month that voided a planning commission's approval and ordered Rutherford County authorities to conduct a final inspection of the building.
If the structure had failed to comply with inspection requirements, U.S. District Judge Todd J. Campbell ordered the county to immediately notify the Islamic Center of any deficiencies and "promptly reinspect the building" after the center informed the county that it has corrected the problems.