Muslim in Suffer

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Fire and Gunshots at Tennessee Mosque Site Called ‘Terrorism’

Posted by musliminsuffer on August 31, 2010

bismi-lLahi-rRahmani-rRahiem
In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

=== News Update ===

August 30, 2010, 10:38 am <!– — Updated: 8:11 pm –>

Fire and Gunshots at Tennessee Mosque Site Called ‘Terrorism’

By ROBERT MACKEY

Updated | 11:19 a.m. On Sunday, one day after a fire at the site of a planned Islamic center and mosque in the Nashville suburb of Murfreesboro, Muslim community members reported hearing gunshots as they inspected the damage.

Saleh Sbenaty, an engineering professor at Middle Tennessee State University who is on the the Islamic center’s planning committee, told The Daily News Journal of Murfreesboro that nine shots, in two volleys, were fired near the property while he and female family members looked at construction equipment burned in the fire. Mr. Sbenaty, who has lived in Tennessee for three decades, said, “It was nothing like a hunting rifle.”

He added:

We hope for the best, obviously, but this isn’t hunting land. There’s plenty of houses around here…. To say we’re nervous is a huge understatement. It’s terrorism.

On Saturday morning, the local sheriff’s department informed members of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro that one piece of construction equipment at the site had been burned and three others were doused with some sort of fluid but not set alight.

Camie Ayash, a spokesperson for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, told Nashville’s News Channel 5:

If it is some kind of sign, and the message is to be scared, honestly it’s working.

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In a statement posted on the center’s Web site, Ms. Ayash called the fire an “arson attack” and an “atrocious act of terrorism.”

There have been protests against the construction of mosques and Islamic centers in several parts of the country this year, by protesters carrying signs with slogans like “Mosques Are Monuments to Terrorism,” but opposition to the Tennessee project, in the heart of the Bible Belt, has been particularly heated. In July, opponents of the Murfreesboro center rallied the same day that Tennessee’s lieutenant governor, Ron Ramsey,  was filmed saying that Islam may be “a cult” rather than a religion.

Last week, a columnist for The Murfreesboro Post wrote of the proposed Islamic center in the same Lower Manhattan neighborhood as the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center:

It wouldn’t have been right if Lee Harvey Oswald’s family had expressed a desire to bury him near the Grassy Knoll, would it?

The Tennessean reported on Sunday that federal agents are involved in the investigation of the fire, which damaged four pieces of construction equipment. A spokesman for the the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told the newspaper that the agency had not yet determined whether the fire was arson.

Murfreesboro’s Daily News Journal reported on Monday that two federal agencies are involved in the investigation:

Keith Moses, assistant special agent in charge of the F.B.I.’s Nashville office, said charred portions of the truck were collected as evidence Sunday, but it is too soon to tell what type of accelerant was used.

Special Agent Eric Kehn of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms’s Nashville office said it could take a few days or weeks to determine what was used to set the fire.

Earlier this month, Mr. Sbenaty told NPR that a sign announcing the new center had been  vandalized twice before the fire, but that the sudden objections to Muslims in the community this year have come as a shock after years of peace:

We are extremely surprised, actually, because, you know, the almost 30 years that I’ve been in Tennessee, I haven’t had any issues about my religion. People respect me and I respect them. My kids grew up here and, you know, their friends, actually, we know their families and so on. So we were really surprised and we did not have any indication before we put the sign on our new property.

And then the first indication was vandalism to the sign, you know, wrote on the sign: Not welcome. And then later on, you know, they broke the sign totally.

After the first reports of possible arson at the site, Kevin Fisher, a local resident who has led protests against the construction of the Islamic center and mosque, said in a statement that he did not support “vigilantism.”

He added:

We who stand in opposition to this mosque have made our concerns known through proper legal channels and have conducted ourselves with dignity, respect and out of a spirit of love for our community, and we will continue to do so.

Middle Tennesseans for Religious Freedom announced on Facebook that it plans to hold a “Candlelight Vigil Condemning Violence Against the New Islamic Center Site” on Monday night on the steps of the Rutherford County Courthouse in Murfreesboro.

Update: Thanks to the reader who pointed out that The Daily Show broadcast this report on the Murfreesboro Islamic center just last week:

http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/30/fear-spreads-after-fire-at-tennessee-mosque-site/

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-muslim voice-
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BECAUSE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW

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