MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Muslims in the Tennessee city of Murfreesboro said Friday they hope the opening of their new mosque after more than two years of controversy will be a new beginning for relations with the community, particularly their opponents.

Islamic Center of Murfreesboro members include immigrants from Iraq, Egypt, Syria and other countries, as well as American converts.

Many of them said that before the opposition to their new building they had always found Murfreesboro to be a welcoming community.

“We are here 30 years and I never had a problem with the people here,” said Safaa Fathy, a member of the mosque’s board of directors. “It only started two years ago.”

That’s when the Islamic center received permission to construct a new mosque to replace their overcrowded space in an office park. Since then they have had to deal with public protests, vandalism, arson of a construction vehicle and a bomb threat. Opponents of the project held a protest rally and then sued the county to stop construction.

Opponents’ attorneys claimed in court that Islam was not a real religion deserving First Amendment protections. They also claimed that local Muslims were part of a plot to overthrow the U.S. constitution and replace it with Islamic law.