MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- The Muslim holy month of a Ramadan begins Thursday but it will still be a few weeks before prayers are heard at a controversial mosque in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
A federal judge ruled Wednesday that county officials had to allow the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro to apply for an occupancy permit, despite a state court ruling that blocked the mosque from opening.
Building inspectors were at the mosque site on Thursday and determined that more work was needed before the mosque could open.
The delay was expected, said Essam Fathy, chairman of the mosque construction committee.
He said that mosque leaders are just glad the process of getting a permit for their new building has started.
"We know it's going to be a process," he said. "It's not going to happen today or tomorrow.
They're hopeful to be in the building sometime during the holy month of Ramadan, which begins at sundown tonight.
Before yesterday, the county had told them it would be months before the legal dispute over the occupancy was resolved. Mosque opponents, who say Islam is not a real religion, have fought a two year battle to stop the project.
Earlier this year, a Rutherford County judge ruled that since the mosque was controversial, county officials needed to give additional public notice before approaching the project.
Essam Fathy, a local physical therapist who is the chairman of the mosque construction committee, said that the main point was getting the process started.
"Before yesterday, we had no hope of being in the mosque during Ramadan," he said. "Now our hope is restored."
Howard Wall, a former chairman of the Rutherford County Republican Party who was a fixture during court hearings in 2010 against the mosque, said he didn't know what the next step is for mosque opponents. Wall said he was disappointed with Wednesday's ruling.
"It looks like the federal judge ran roughshod over Judge Corlew," he said. "I'm not sure how this whole thing went down."