Tennessee: Murfreesboro Mosque the Target of Backlash

The proposed Murfreesboro Mosque has become a lightening rod political/legal/social issue in Tennessee. See the courageous supporters of the Mosque who are defending Freedom of Religion versus those who oppose the Mosque on grounds that seem less than sincere.

Also what do Israeli flags have to do with a Mosque in Tennessee? Looks like Christian Zionists acting wacky as usual.


Mosque leads to Square off



Anti-mosque marchers proudly paraded their opposition for a mile along East Main Street to the Public Square on Murfreesboro Wednesday.

They carried flags of America and Israel, sang, “God Bless America,” and carried many signs, including: “Mosque leaders support killing converts. Tell it!”

While the crowd from both protesters and counter protesters appeared to number 500 to 600 at its peak — police estimated the crowd at 1,000, protest march organizer Kevin Fisher estimated that several hundred marched in his group alone from Central Magnet School to the County Courthouse.

There, they encountered hundreds more of counter protesters carrying signs with messages such as, “All you need is love” and “Freedom for all religion” and “Tolerance.”

“Ignore their hate,” Fisher told his participants as they turned the east corner of the Square on their way to the west side of the County Courthouse.

His grass-roots group plans to next present to the County Commission on Aug. 12 a petition in opposition to the county Regional Planning Commission’s site plan approval last May for a 52,960-square-foot community center and mosque for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro to build on Veals Road off Bradyville Pike southeast of the city.

“We have close to 20,000 petition signers,” Fisher said. “We gathered at least 700 (Wednesday).”

Fisher was one of about 20 speakers to carry his message to the commission last June. Hundreds packed all three floors of the Courthouse for that event.

On Wednesday, two protest groups almost seemed like rival student bodies chanting back and forth about who had the better team.

The marchers attempted to give speeches on the Courthouse steps, but the words offered by 82-year-old Gertrude Phillips and others were drowned out by the counter protesters.

In response, the marchers chanted, “U.S.A.!, U.S.A.!, U.S.A.!”

and “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” and sang, “Amazing Grace” and “The Star Spangled Banner.”

“When you are yelling during a prayer or when you are yelling when an 82-year-old woman speaks, you are being disrespectful,” Fisher said in an interview after the speeches were over.

March participant Jake Robinson was also offended by the counter protesters.

“They are a bunch of rabble-rousers,” said Robinson, a candidate in the Aug. 5 election running against County Commissioner Will Jordan, who’s also on the Regional Planning Commission. “They were bused in. They’re a rent-a-mob. As (U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy) Pelosi would say, they are Astroturf of the highest order.”

Although Phillips’ words to the mosque opponents were hard to hear, the La Vergne resident was glad to share why she was willing to push her walker for a portion of the march around the Square.

She’s concerned about Muslims not adhering to burial practices in America in particular.

“My husband is buried in a casket in the state of Kentucky,” said Phillips, adding that she’ll be buried by him in the same way. “If they come over here, they need to do our ways and abide by our law. If they can’t, go back to where they came from. God gave us America. We need to uphold America.”

The marchers included other people seeking public office, such as congressional candidates George Erdel, who calls himself ‘a tea party Democrat’, and Lou Ann Zelenik, a Republican. Many Zelenik supporters proudly displayed signs and T-shirts with her name on it.

Erdel also helped organize the march, using a bullhorn to give instructions before the parade began. He also handed the bullhorn to Dusty Ray, the pastor of Heartland Baptist Church at Walter Hill where Erdel attends.

Ray led the large group gathered on the Central Magnet School grounds in prayer about their march in opposition to the plans of local Muslims.

“They are about oppression,” Ray said in his prayer.

“Lord, we’re trying to stop a political movement,” Ray added before concluding his prayer, “In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Others of note in the march included Howard Wall, a local real estate developer and Republican Party supporter; and Dave Beardsley, a candidate challenging County Commissioner Gary Farley, who’s also a member of the Regional Planning Commission.

Beardsley carried a sign near the front of the march: “Commissioner Farley votes yes on Islamic Center.”

Farley in a recent interview said his vote was based on the center meeting all of the rules required by the county’s zoning resolution.

When the march and counter protesters were winding down and mostly left, two Muslim women in hijab outfits to cover their hair and bodies appeared before unfriendly mosque opponents.

Dressed in a black outfit, Tahira Ahmed told the protesters she’s an American of Cherokee and other Indian heritage whose family chose to convert to Islam.

“I have a right to wear a bikini, and I have a right to cover myself,” Ahmed told the crowd.

An obese man wearing tattered blue shorts and a brown T-shirt that expressed his love of barbecue challenged the Muslim women from where he stood about 15 feet away.

“Our Constitution doesn’t apply to you,” the man said.

Qamar Awale, who was wearing a blue hijab, disagreed.

“I have a right to live here,” she said. “And I have a right to worship, and I have a right to build.”

Prior to speaking before the marchers, the women said they came here from their Nashville homes with a goal to communicate with others about being Muslims rather than to have people influenced by propaganda expressed to the news media.

“We’re advocating for communication between neighbors,” said Ahmed, who’d like to see the proposed mosque built. “That’s what religious freedom is. We should respect each other’s rights in this country, and we should respect the rules of America. America doesn’t say if you’re a Muslim you can’t live here and worship.”

Awale agreed.

“If you live here, you have rights to worship anywhere,” she said. “We have right to worship. Freedom is supposed to be like a butterfly.”


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