There have been death threats, vandalism, even arson. The road to a new Islamic Center in Murfreesboro has been long and controversial. But Sunday night, Muslims in Middle Tennessee officially have a new place of worship.
There were smiles, food and lots of fellowshipping as hundreds of people, Muslims and Christians alike, packed the new Islamic Center in Murfreesboro.
"Looking forward to praying here," said Amer Sultan, a member of Muslims of Youth in Murfreesboro.
Two years after city officials approved plans for the ICM, organizers held a grand opening celebration Sunday, including an open house for the entire community.
"It was a happy day. It was a day we waited for a long, long time," remembered Chairman of the Board of Directors Essam Fathy.
It's a day many Muslims feared would never come following years of protests, petitions and court battles to stop construction on the mosque.
Fathy explained, "We understand that many of those oppositions were misinformed they really don't know us. And when they get to know us they understand that we mean good, we are here to stay we are really loving, peaceful people."
Bushra Jamal drove from Nashville to check out the new mosque. "Today is a testimony of strength of faith of all religions and how all religions have come together to talk about freedom of religion freedom of faith."
It's a beacon of hope and healing for a community divided.
"It's a beautiful day... We are really lucky to be in Middle TN," Fathy beamed.
Plans for the Islamic Center still aren't complete. Organizers hope to build a new soccer field and cultural center on site as well.
Copyright 2012 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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