(Tampa Tribune) — A state appeals court has ruled that a Hillsborough County Circuit judge can consider Islamic law to decide a civil case between a mosque and its former trustees.
The decision by the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Lakeland to decline the appeal of the Islamic Education Center of Tampa sends the case back to Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Richard A. Nielsen. Nielsen’s decision in March to allow the case to proceed under “ecclesiastical Islamic law” drew national attention when the ruling was criticized by conservative bloggers.
The case has its roots in 2002, when the mosque ousted four of its founding members; those founding members later sued the mosque. One of the main issues of dispute was who would be responsible for how to spend $2.5 million Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise had paid the mosque for 3.4 acres needed to widen Veterans Expressway.
When he made his March ruling, Nielsen said courts have ruled “that ecclesiastical law controls certain relations between members of a religious organization, whether a church, synagogue, temple or mosque.”