A Tennessee court ruled that county officials did not act illegally when it approved the construction of a mosque and Islamic center.
Rutherford County Chancellor Robert Corlew said he could not find sufficient evidence that county officials acted illegally despite community allegations that Tennessee's open meetings law was violated.
The decision on Wednesday means the construction of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro is free to proceed despite community concerns.
During the trial, attorney Joe Brandon, Jr., peppered officials with several questions concerning Islamic customs and Sharia law.
In the seven days of testimony, Brandon reportedly asked a witness, "Do you want to know about a direct connection between the Islamic Center and Sharia law, a.k.a. terrorism?"
He also brought Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy to testify that it poses a threat on America.
Brandon's questions reflected the fears of his plaintiffs, three Rutherford County residents, and the Tennessee residents who marched in a July protest of the center, waving American flags and carrying signs with such messages as, "to embrace Islam is to embrace terrorism."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations contends the county has been a hot-bed of "hate crime" since construction started. In August, construction equipment on the site of the future mosque was burned in what is believed to be arson. Before that, a sign on the construction site was vandalized with the words, "not welcome."
The questions also reflected concerns over Sharia practice in the United States. Similar fears led Oklahoma voters to vote overwhelmingly in favor of a ban on Islamic law in state courts earlier this month. Protesters against the proposed Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero in New York City have also expressed fears of a Sharia state. The Coalition to Honor Ground Zero rallied hundreds in August, shouting "Stop Sharia Before It Stops You."
Sharia, meaning "path or way to a waterhole in the desert," is a religious code by which Muslims try to live. It is also the law in some Middle East countries.
Christian scholars say Americans are right to fear Sharia rule abroad. Many point to how Sharia law, as practiced in other countries, has posed human rights challenges for women and people of other faiths.
But J.D. Greear, a pastor and student of Christian and Islamic theology, believes there is little to fear here in the United States. In an earlier e-mail to The Christian Post, Greear acknowledged U.S. concern but advised, "Let's deal with [disruptive Islamic practices] specifically and not make statements that end up being more an insult to Muslims than they actually deal with the issues at hand."
The approved site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro is about 30 miles southeast of Nashville.