(CNN) -- A Tennessee Islamic center and the Justice Department asked a federal court to clear the way for a controversial mosque to open in time for the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, at sunset Thursday.
Plans for the mosque in Murfreesboro, near Nashville, have resulted in threats to the center and a lawsuit that led to a county judge's order shutting down the project in June. The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro is now asking a federal judge to allow the mosque to open, arguing that it is being unconstitutionally blocked "merely because local anti-Islamic protests have made the mosque controversial."
The construction site had been vandalized multiple times, including by an arson attack in 2010, and federal authorities have charged a Texas man with calling in a bomb threat to the center before last year's anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.
The center went to court a day after Rutherford County denied its request for a final inspection and certificate of occupancy, citing the June order from Rutherford County Chancellor Robert Corlew. In a separate lawsuit, also filed Wednesday, the Justice Department says that denial violates federal law.
U.S. District Judge Todd Campbell set a hearing on the issue for Thursday afternoon in Nashville.
The center's lawsuit was filed by the Washington-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. It argues that the center was ordered to meet "a heightened standard of notice in the zoning process" because of objections by some Murfreesboro residents, a standard no other religious institution has been asked to meet.
"This double standard for the mosque has deprived ICM of its legal rights under federal law and the Constitution, serves no public purpose and threatens to cripple ICM's ability to observe Ramadan," the lawsuit states.
The project had been approved by a planning commission and was under construction when Corlew reversed that approval because of what he said was the insufficient notice. The county followed its normal practice of publishing notice of the hearing in the local newspaper, but Corlew said more should have been done because the mosque was "an issue of major importance to citizens."
Four county residents filed suit to block the mosque in September 2010, arguing it posed a "risk of terrorism generated by proselytizing for Islam and inciting the practices of Sharia law" and that planning commissioners violated their due process rights. They also demanded the judge bar any approval until the Islamic center showed that it was not interested in "the overthrow of the American system of government, laws and freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution."
CNN's Joe Sutton contributed to this report.