The U.S. Justice Department filed a brief on Monday defending the proposed construction of a 52,000-square-foot mosque in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
U.S. Attorney Jerry E. Martin of Nashville says Islam is a religion entitled to constitutional protection and to suggest otherwise "is quite simply ridiculous."
"Plaintiffs' implication that Islam is not a recognized religion by the United States is wrong and is not supported by any authority whatsoever," Martin said.
"The right to assemble and worship as you please was literally the genesis of this country," he added.
Opponents of the Islamic center have challenged whether Rutherford County acted properly in granting the building permit for the mosque. They claim the county failed to determine whether the mosque is protected under the First Amendment.