Archive for Islamic Center

Bigots Resume Offensive against Murfreesboro Islamic Center

Posted in Loon Pastors, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , on March 4, 2012 by loonwatch

Islamic Center of Murfreesboro

Islamic Center of Murfreesboro

Bigots resume offensive against Murfreesboro Islamic Center 

MURFREESBORO — With an April 25 court hearing drawing near in the fight over mosque construction here, foes of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro’s plans are taking the battle regional.

But while the court issue next month will focus on whether Rutherford County provided ample public notice for the 2010 meeting in which county planners approved the mosque site plan, opponents remain focused on a religious conflict, sounding a warning about the perceived spread of Islam and the damage they believe it will do to American society.

“This is not a Muslim-bashing deal. I don’t have any problem with Muslims. It’s Islam that’s causing it,” Kingdom Ministries pastor Darrel Whaley told a crowd of about 70 people last Tuesday at the Cannon County Senior Citizen Center.

Whaley warned the group that Woodbury and Cannon County are part of the area the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro plans to cover, based on a 2010 posting on the ICM’s website. It’s one of several counties surrounding Rutherford where Whaley said he hopes to deliver the message.

The minister told the crowd he was glad some Muslims felt free enough to attend the event and noted that when he preaches each Sunday at his Walter Hill church, not everyone is going to agree. “They’ve got that right,” he said.

Yet when the former president of the ICM tried to address the crowd to refute “misconceptions” later in the event following presentations by attorneys Joe Brandon and Tom Smith, Whaley refused to let him speak.

“I came here to say open our hearts to each other,” Ahmed Elsayed said, turning to the audience and pleading for the opportunity to speak. “We want to have mutual respect.”

One man in the audience argued that he had served in the military to help maintain the right to free speech and that Elsayed should be allowed to speak.

Whaley’s presentation in Woodbury Tuesday quickly shifted into a Sunday sermon, in which he told the audience, “There are no other gods with the offer of heaven. It is his will that everyone be saved. God so loved the world that he gave his son – for Muslims … for atheists. To deny his truth is to be willfully ignorant or intellectually dishonest.”

But moments after saying, “God loves Muslims just as much as anyone in the room,” the minister outlined a seven-step plan by Islam to dominate the world, starting with the 9/11 attack, followed by the destabilization of secular Muslim governments, the toppling of moderate Muslim regimes, a pending confrontation with the West and a declaration of total domination by 2020. “Their goal is to turn our nation into an Islamic republic,” he said.

Daily News Journal, 3 March 2012

Update: Raylazir Legend Faces Hate Crime Charges Due to “Anti-Muslim Statements” in Attack on Mosque

Posted in Feature, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , on January 3, 2012 by loonwatch

The man had a personal vendetta against his targets, but also confessed anti-Muslim sentiments. (Thanks for all the hat tips)

Suspect confesses in Queens, L.I. firebomb attacks: cops 

A Queens man confessed Tuesday to a firebombings spree on New Year’s Day — claiming a personal vendetta drove him to tossing the Molotov cocktails, police said.

The firebug — identified by sources as Raylazir Legend, 40 — told detectives that each of the five attacks in Queens and Elmont, L.I. — including an attempt to torch a Jamaica mosque — stemmed from ongoing beefs.

“The suspect made statements incriminating himself in each of the five firebombings, citing a personal grievance or dispute in each instance,” said Paul Browne, top spokesman for the NYPD.

Legend, an unemployed towtruck driver, was still waiting to be charged Tuesday, but a law enforcement official said he faces arson and hate-crime charges because of “broad anti-Muslim statements” he made during his confession.

Legend was cuffed about 8 a.m. Tuesday, after Detectives Richard Johnson and Charles LoPresti of the 103rd Precinct saw him get into a stolen car linked to the first attack: a Hillside Ave. bodega.

Legend was caught by workers at the bodega on Dec. 27 trying to steal a carton of milk and a Starbucks Frappuccino.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nypd-questioning-suspect-queens-firebomb-attacks-article-1.1000340#ixzz1iRwt66pp

New York Times: Muslims Targeted in Wave of Firebombing

Posted in Feature, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2012 by loonwatch

All the facts on this are not clear yet, but it is being reported as a bias crime in many reports. If this holds true then it will be another manifestation of the all too real threat to Muslim communities from radical hatemongers.

Four Attacks in Queens With Homemade Firebombs

By ELIZABETH A. HARRIS (NYTimes)

A wave of arson attacks spread across eastern Queens on Sunday night, and the police said the firebombings were being investigated as bias crimes — with Muslims as the targets.

No one was hurt in the four attacks, in which homemade firebombs were apparently used. In three of the four attacks, the police said, Molotov cocktails were made with Starbucks bottles.

The first attack occurred just before 8 p.m. at a bodega at 179-40 Hillside Avenue.

Ten minutes later, another crude firebomb was thrown, this time at a private home at 146-62 107th Avenue, and the house caught fire.

Half an hour after that, an Islamic center at 89-89 Van Wyck Expressway was the target. The last attack occurred at a house at 88-20 170th Street, the police said.

The Islamic center, the Imam Al-Khoei Foundation, houses one of the most prominent Shiite mosques in New York. According to its Web site it offers funeral services, counseling and free SAT classes. It lists branches in several cities, including Montreal and Islamabad, Pakistan. Calls to the foundation were not returned Sunday night.

The firebomb, made with a glass Starbucks bottle, was thrown at the door of the center, possibly from a van as it drove it by, the police said. The door was blackened, but the building did not catch fire.

A similar weapon was found at the bodega, the site of the first attack, according to the police. The bomb might have been thrown from inside the store, because the counter sustained some damage, the police said.

It was the second attack, on 107th Avenue, police and fire officials said, that caused the most damage.

Shortly after 8 p.m., someone called 911, saying that a Molotov cocktail had been thrown at their home. The house caught fire, and it took more than 60 firefighters about 40 minutes to bring it under control.

In the fourth attack, two bottles were thrown at the house on 170th Street. A spokesman for the Fire Department said that the person who called 911 said they saw a vehicle drive by as the bottles were hurled toward their home. But the flames quickly fizzled.

Islamic Center Hosts Free Clinic

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , on November 10, 2011 by loonwatch

Islamic Center Hosts Free Clinic

Carla Lewis had never been in a mosque before and she wasn’t sure what to expect.

“Because I’m a Christian, and you hear all this propaganda that if you’re not Muslim, you’re their enemy,” she said.

Still, she entered, a little confused for a moment about where to go and how to behave until someone showed up to assist her.

“Are you here for the clinic? Let me show you the way,” someone offered.

Lewis, a 47-year-old truck driver, said her private health insurance lapsed in April after she took a leave of absence to care for her ill child. She needed a physical exam before returning to work, so a flier in the library piqued her interest.

It was advertising a free medical clinic at the Islamic Center of Tucson.

“I came and found it was not what I thought,” Lewis said. “People were very friendly and professional and welcoming.”

When organizers first conceived of the clinic, they hoped to reach people who, like Lewis, never had direct experience with Tucson’s Islamic community.

The clinic was the brainchild of Yahya Nomaan, 20, a pre-med student at the University of Arizona and the son of a pediatrician.

With hostile rhetoric about Islam growing to a crescendo in recent years over the building of mosques in communities from New York to California, Nomaan saw the need to highlight the contributions of Muslim Americans.

“You go to any hospital, you have a Doctor Khan, you have a Doctor Hassan,” he said. “Clearly medicine is our forte.”

So Nomaan and his father, Dr. Mohammed Nomaan, decided to start a free monthly medical clinic. The Islamic Center of Tucson offered its space, and local doctors from the Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America volunteered to staff it.

During a recent clinic, the younger Nomaan and other volunteers circled the brightly lighted waiting area, taking vital signs and making small talk with patients.

Maryam Tanbal – an earnest 17-year-old with a disarming smile – greeted patients and gave them the requisite paperwork.

She said sometimes people seem a little hesitant when they first arrive because they’re unsure how to behave in a mosque. They wonder if they need to take their shoes off, for example.

She assures them that while shoes should not be worn in the rooms where prayers are held, the clinic is located in a separate area, and patients should keep their shoes on.

October marked the sixth clinic at the Islamic Center, and the younger Nomaan said the operation goes smoother each time. In the past, tiny glitches have arisen – one of the rooms in the mosque was locked, or a blood pressure cuff broke.

“Today was the first clinic with no hiccups,” Nomaan said. “We have God to praise for that.”

If you go

• Clinic location: Islamic Center of Tucson, 901 E. First St.

• When: Last Saturday of every month, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• Contact: 329-1428

• Cost: Free

• Appointments: Recommended but not required

Anissa Tanweer is a University of Arizona student who is an apprentice at the Star. Contact her at starapprentice@azstarnet.com or 573-4117.

Missouri: Vandalism at Islamic Center costly to clear

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , on January 14, 2011 by loonwatch

A strange sort of hate crime in Missouri. Spencer is probably scratching his head, “Islamophobia, what Islamophobia?”

Vandalism at Islamic Center costly to clear

(News-Leader)

A spokesman for the Islamic Center of Springfield says removing the graffiti left on the group’s building late Friday or early Saturday could cost $1,000 to have sandblasted off.

Joseph Pollpeter said the graffiti was discovered on three outside walls when members showed up for the 6 a.m. prayer Saturday morning. Those who attended prayer Friday night did not see any.

Pollpeter said he contacted the Springfield police, as well as the FBI. He believes the messages constitute a hate crime.

He described graffiti left on the building at 2151 East Division St. as including: a phallic symbol near the door where women enter; phrases saying “gay insurrection,” “gay is ok” and a reference to Allah being gay; profane four-letter words; and the words “You bash us in Pakistan we bash you here;” a pentangle; and a Star of David.

“I don’t know if the people happened to be gay or bisexual or not, or if they were just using terms to be insulting,” said Pollpeter. “There is no one we have our fingers pointed at. We are on good terms with all our neighbors.”

 

NYTimes: Imam Behind Islamic Center Plans US Tour

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2010 by loonwatch

Imam Plans US Tour

by Paul Vitello

The controversy over plans to build an Islamic center in downtown Manhattan subsided in November, almost abruptly, with the end of an election season that amplified its most emotional underlying issues.

But the imam behind the project has decided to risk reigniting that opposition by setting out on a nationwide speaking tour next month to promote the planned center and to foster dialogue about Muslim life in America.

“Controversy has never been a problem for me,” said the imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf, whose proposal to build the high-rise community center and mosque two blocks north of ground zero made him the prime target last summer of opponents who viewed the plan, known as Park51 for its address on Park Place, as a Trojan horse for Muslim triumphalism. “I think the controversy of last summer helped initiate a discourse that has been very good for the country. I’m an American, and I believe that Americans are problem solvers. So I believe further discussion can only be good.”

The tour, which he described in an interview on Wednesday, is scheduled to begin in Detroit, the city with the largest Muslim population in the United States. It will include stops in Chicago, Washington, San Antonio and several college campuses, starting with Harvard, Yale, Georgetown and the University of North Carolina.

Because of death threats that the imam has received, none of his addresses will be open to the general public, though the local news media in each place will be invited to attend, and to ask questions afterward, he said.

Some of the project’s most outspoken opponents welcomed the imam’s plan for a speaking tour, though for reasons of their own.

“I think this will help to revive the opposition, not only from Americans in general but from Muslims in this country, who don’t want this thing built,” said Ryan Mauro, a conservative blogger and the producer of a documentary about the planned community center.

The film, “Sacrificed Survivors: The Untold Story of the Ground Zero Mega-Mosque,” focuses on opposition by some families of 9/11 victims.

Pamela Geller, another conservative blogger who organized many of the public demonstrations against the center last summer, said she planned to marshal protests when the City Council meets next month to review Wal-Mart’s proposal to open a store in Manhattan. “Christine Quinn is against Wal-Mart, but she’s in favor of the megamosque. Typical liberal elitist thinking,” she said, referring to the City Council speaker.

Ms. Geller also predicted that the imam’s speaking tour would serve the opposition. “The opposition has never gone away, and will never go away,” she said.

At the height of the controversy over the summer and fall, Mr. Adbul Rauf was on a scheduled speaking tour in Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. The tour was sponsored by the State Department’s cultural exchange bureau, known as the Department of Public Diplomacy.

He considered canceling that trip in order to confront the opposition and rally support at home to his cause — a job that fell for the most part to his wife and partner in interfaith work, Daisy Khan, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement.

“But in that environment, I realized that no matter what I did or said, I would be accused of something,” he said. And as it turned out, he added, the reaction of Middle Eastern Muslims to the controversy over Park51 was encouraging to him.

The idea that in the United States there could be a discussion, even an angry one, about building a mosque that some considered to be too close to ground zero — “that was an amazingly positive thing to people I met in the Middle East,” he said.

“The idea that the Jewish mayor of New York would be our most outspoken defender,” he continued, referring to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, “well, I think that really touched people. It was very positive ‘optics’ for the international Muslim audience, as they say in the State Department.”

If Mr. Abdul Rauf ever entertained thoughts of moving the planned center to a less contentious site — as he has admitted in interviews — Mr. Bloomberg’s support for Park51 has since made that unthinkable.

And to do so now would be “a betrayal of this great opportunity,” he added, referring to the discourse about relations between Muslims in the United States and their fellow Americans, which he plans to take on the road from mid-January until the early spring.

 

Murfreesboro: Attorney Vows to Maintain Fight against Mosque

Posted in Loon Pastors, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on December 20, 2010 by loonwatch

(hat tip: Eric Allen Bell)

ISLAMIC CENTER LAWSUIT: Attorney vows to maintain fight against mosque

The attorney representing residents suing Rutherford County over a proposed mosque solicited the public Friday for help — and money — while pledging to continue the court fight.

“The plaintiffs fully intend to continue to gather facts and evidence and proceed to a final hearing,” Murfreesboro lawyer Joe M. Brandon Jr. states in a “response” sent to media. “It is anticipated that the final hearing will occur after the full completion of discovery. This should be some time over the course of the next year.”

Brandon is representing plaintiffs Kevin Fisher, Lisa Moore and Henry Golczynski who filed suit after the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro acquired site plan approval May 24 from the county’s Regional Planning Commission to build a 52,960-square-foot community center with a mosque on Veals Road off Bradyville Pike southeast of Murfreesboro’s city limits.

The lawsuit challenges whether the county provided sufficient notice to the public about the agenda item and also questions whether Islam is a religion and should be afforded land use rights as with other churches.

Chancellor Robert Corlew Jr. concluded after several days of testimony spread over three months this fall that “Islam is in fact a religion” and found no grounds to issue a temporary restraining order to halt the mosque’s construction.

Brandon, though, notes in his letter that at the conclusion of the temporary hearing, the trial court ruled, ” … we are startled to find that the case advocated by the Defendants as the authoritative holding that Islam is a religion was actually a case wherein the Supreme Court held that display of aChristmas tree with an angel proclaiming ‘Glory to God in the highest’ on the stairway of a county courthouse had the effect of endorsing a Christian message.”

The trial court went on to state, “[w]e stress in our holding that there is a distinction between a legal finding that Islam is a religion compared with a religious finding that Islam is a religion. The religious scholars may debate for a lengthy period of time whether Islam meets their definition of a religion.”

Brandon argued repeatedly during the hearing that the Islamic Center poses a threat to the community based on the tenants of Shariah Law, and therefore should not be deemed a religion. It’s a point that Brandon says he will continue to challenge at the full hearing in the case.

The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, meanwhile, has been charging ahead with its building plans on 15 acres. The congregation hopes to submit more detailed plans to obtain a building permit by March or April, said Saleh Sbenaty, a planning committee member for the Muslim congregation.

“We’re just finishing up the grading,” Sbenaty said during a Friday night phone interview. “The grading is taking more time because of the weather. After the grading is done, we will send the whole package for the building permit.”

Phase I of the building plans will be in the 10,000- to 11,000-square-foot range and include a reception hall that will also serve as a prayer area, an office for the imam (religious leader) and a small meeting room that can also serve as a nursery.

If enough money is available in Phase I, the ICM will also seek to build two outdoor pavilions and a playground between the two, added Sbenaty, an 18-year MTSU professor who teaches courses in electronics and computers for the Engineering Technology Department.

Long-term plans include a formal mosque area for worship, classrooms for weekend religious study, a gym, indoor pool, more offices, a multipurpose sports field, a basketball/tennis court and a private cemetery for ICM members.

Brandon, in addition to vowing to continue efforts to halt the project, implored anyone with information relevant to the case to forward it to his office.

“Additionally, should anyone feel led to make a donation toward attorney’s fees or other mandatory related costs, please give me a call, wherein, these matters can be discussed in depth,” Brandon states.

 

Temecula: Mosque Has Been Approved

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , on December 2, 2010 by loonwatch

After months of heated argument and vitriolic anti-Muslim agitation and Islamophobia the mosque in Temecula has been approved.

After tense and heated comments, Temecula Planning Commission approves mosque

BY ROCKY SALMON,  SWRNN
A lengthy and heated Temecula Planning Commission hearing on a proposed mosque ended with an approval to the cheers of proponents.

Opponents of the 24,943-square-foot mosque have stated plans to appeal the decision to the City Council over concerns on traffic and the politics tied to the association to Islam.

The commissioners unanimously voted on the mosque proposed by the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley. The mosque will be built in two phases in a rural area along Nicolas Road near Chaparral High School.

“The project has met all the conditions placed before them and in fact has exceeded them,” said commissioner Ron Guerriero.

The group has spent years praying inside a small industrial building on Rio Nedo near Old Town Temecula. The commission was not voting on the merits of religion rather on whether there would be any violations of city codes, especially traffic, if approved. The mosque requires a conditional-use permit.

The staff report states the traffic analysis shows the mosque would have less than significant impact to the roads in the area. The group would need to add two-way left turn lane at the eastbound direction at Nicolas Road and Calle Colibri.

The study further states that the intersections of Winchester and Nicolas roads and Winchester and Margarita Roads are already operating under a less than satisfactory level of service. The traffic study states congestion in the area will ease with the implementation of a city-wide electronic traffic monitoring system, which officials expect to be running by April 2011.

The mosque will have two entrances – both along Calle Colibri.

The mosque will build 104 parking spaces for phase one. The first phase will include a 4,157 square foot building that houses a prayer hall and storage area. The second phase will add to the prayer hall with a 20,786 square foot two-story expansion. The center will build additional parking spaces for a total of 181.

The buildings will have two minarets that will blend with the Mediterranean architecture of the mosque. The minarets will not be taller than the highest point of the main building.

The public hearing on the proposal started at 6:30 p.m. The city opened up two rooms for over-flow crowds with sound from the meeting piped in.

The commissioners listened to impassioned pleas from both sides until 11 p.m. Through out the night, residents shouted, applauded and even booed during speeches. Chairman Carl Carey had to warn the crowd a dozen times and used his gavel to maintain order.

Opponents of the project focused at first on traffic issues.

Laura Scott said she is not against the center but concerned about the lack of infrastructure.

“Nicolas Road can’t support any facility of this magnitude,” she said. “This is a double lane road, poorly maintained with potholes. Don’t decide on this proposal until Nicolas Road has been expanded.”

Other opponents requested the traffic study be redone at a different time in the day and also do a thorough study of traffic at mosques in other counties.

Comments quickly turned toward fear of Islamic extremism coming to Temecula and the mosque being used for extremist camps.

“Islam is not a religion but a political ideology,” said Amy Pina. “This is about the survival of the United States.”

Proponents called the fears unsubstantiated and pointed to the fact that there have been no problems with the Islamic Center.

“I know there is a lot of fear here in this room,” said Rebecca Al-Ghizawi, a member of the Temecula Women’s Islamic Center. “These people stand up and say its about traffic then sit down and mumble about how Islam will take over this country. It has a name: institutional prejudice. I hope this commission does not hold this against us.”

In the end, the commissioners said they were ashamed by some of the statements and said the project met the conditions.

“As a citizen I can say I was flabbergasted by the rhetoric I heard tonight,” said commissioner John Telesio. “Ignorance of the facts breeds fear. Fear breeds hatred. Unfortunately I saw a lot of that today.”

Read more: http://www.swrnn.com/southwest-riverside/2010-12-01/news/after-tense-and-heated-comments-temecula-planning-commission-approves-mosque#ixzz16yISRK3Z

 

Whoopi Goldberg and Bill O’Reilly Mix it up Again

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on November 24, 2010 by loonwatch

Whoopi could use some Loonwatch help in eviscerating Bill O’Reilly but over all she was able to handle his attacks and stand her ground, even though he wouldn’t let her talk.

Notice O’Reilly’s profound ignorance of the Islamic world. He claims “madrassa” which literally means school is a “place where violent Jihad” is taught. Bill, read a book, even the majority of madrassas which are of a religious bent don’t teach Jihad, they provide a free opportunity to poor students to learn the Quran, and some, though too often not enough secular sciences.

Also O’Reilly says that 90% of terrorists in the world today are Muslims. Where does he get these stats? As we have shown, in the West at least, Muslim terrorism barely makes up one percent of all terrorist attacks.

(Huffington Post)

O’Reilly, Whoopi Goldberg Clash About Muslims On ‘O’Reilly Factor,’ And Whoopi Swears Again

Whoopi Goldberg’s appearance on Bill O’Reilly’s show was aired in full on Tuesday’s “O’Reilly Factor.” It was their first meeting since October, when O’Reilly caused Goldberg and Joy Behar to walk off the set of “The View” in anger. Unsurprisingly, that incident, and O’Reilly’s statement that “Muslims killed us on 9/11,” was the focus of his and Goldberg’s rematch.

Though the encounter remained fairly civil — except for one moment when Goldberg swore– the two expressed a fundamental disagreement over both the impact of O’Reilly’s words and the situation in the Muslim world. O’Reilly told Goldberg he thought it was ludicrous to assume that he literally meant all Muslims were responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

“I don’t worry so much about what you think,” Goldberg said, adding that she did worry about the effect such statements might have on viewers. “You’re a really great showman, you’re a great guy to talk to, but sometimes I think you give yourself less credit, which is shocking, I know, than you think,” she told O’Reilly.

O’Reilly then asked Goldberg if she thought there was a “Muslim problem” in the world, as he did. She said that she thought there was a “terrorist problem.” The two clashed about the issue for a few minutes, with O’Reilly saying that 90 percent of the terrorism in the world was being caused by Muslims, and Goldberg insisting that he was painting things with too broad a brush.

The spikiest moment, however, came when O’Reilly referred to Goldberg as “Ms. Goldberg.”

“What is this bullshit about Ms. Goldberg?” Goldberg snapped — ironically, using the very word that she used during their encounter in October. “Stop that, Bill, just call me Whoopi.”

 

Judge refuses to stop construction of Tenn. mosque

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , on November 19, 2010 by loonwatch

Will the loons accept the verdict or resort to violence?

Judge refuses to stop construction of Tenn. mosque

A judge refused Wednesday to stop construction of a proposed mosque in Tennessee that was opposed by some local residents who tried to argue that there was a conspiracy by Muslims to impose extremist law on the United States.

Opponents filed a lawsuit claiming that Rutherford County planning officials violated Tennessee’s open meetings law when they approved the site plan for an Islamic Center in Murfreesboro, about 30 miles southeast of Nashville.

Rutherford County Chancellor Robert Corlew ruled after closing arguments that he could not find that the “county acted illegally, arbitrarily or capriciously” in approving the plan.

But much of the questioning from plaintiffs’ attorney Joe Brandon Jr. during seven days of testimony since late September was about whether Islam qualified as a religion. He pushed his theory that American Muslims want to replace the Constitution with extremist Islamic law.

Corlew said there was some concern about the public notice requirements and suggested county or state officials look at those requirements. But he said the court did not find that members of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro adhered to extremist religious ideas.

Mosque leaders want to expand their facilities to accommodate a growing congregation and currently the proposed site is being prepared but no construction has started. Federal investigators are looking into a dump truck that was set on fire at the construction site earlier this year and twice the sign announcing the future site of the new Islamic center was vandalized.

Brandon had his hands on his face and at times was bent over the desk during the judge’s ruling. Afterward he briskly walked out of the courtroom without addressing the media.

Laurie Cardoza-Moore, who opposes the mosque but was not among the plaintiffs, said the plaintiffs are disappointed with the judge’s decision. However, she said the judge did recognize some of their concerns regarding notification of public meetings.

“We felt like the judge did hear us on those issues,” she said.

During the testimony, witnesses pointed out that Islamic Center of Murfreesboro board member Mosaad Rowash previously had pro-Hamas postings on his MySpace page, something the mosque’s leaders have not denied. The U.S. government considers Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic political party with an armed wing that has attacked Israel, a terrorist organization.

But Corlew said the actions of individuals associated with the mosque was poor judgment.

Brandon said before the ruling that the dispute would continue, however the judge rules. “If the court rules against us, we’re not going to stop,” he said.

Cardoza-Moore said the legal team would meet with the plaintiffs to decide the next course of action.

Jim Cope, the attorney for the county, said they will be prepared for any further challenges.

“We will continue to defend the county’s rights and interests in seeing the actions that we took were upheld appropriately,” he said.

Layla Hantouli, a 22-year-old Muslim woman who has been following the testimony, was glad the judge ruled against the mosque opponents.

“The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro is not promoting anything violent or anything unlawful,” she said.

 

Murfreesboro’s Sharia’ Circus Continues

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on November 15, 2010 by loonwatch

Hearing over Tenn. mosque turns into ‘circus’ of attacks on Islam, vague rumors of Muslim plot

TRAVIS LOLLER

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — Islam is suddenly on trial in a booming Nashville suburb, where opponents of a new mosque have spent six days in court trying to link it to what they claim is a conspiracy to take over America by imposing restrictive religious rule.

The hearing is supposed to be about whether Rutherford County officials violated Tennessee’s open meetings law when they approved the mosque’s site plan. Instead, plaintiff’s attorney Joe Brandon Jr. has used it as a forum to question whether the world’s second-biggest faith even qualifies as a religion, and to push a theory that American Muslims want to replace the Constitution with extremist Islamic law.

“Do you want to know about a direct connection between the Islamic Center and Shariah law, a.k.a. terrorism?” Brandon asked one witness in a typical line of questioning.

Brandon has repeatedly conflated a moderate version of Shariah with its most extreme manifestations, suggesting that all Muslims must adhere to those interpretations.

At one point, he asked whether Rutherford County Commissioner Gary Farley supported hanging a whip in his house as a warning to his wife and then beating her with it, something Brandon claimed was part of “Shariah religion.”

The commissioner protested that he would never beat his wife.

County attorney Jim Cope objected to the question, saying, “This is a circus.”

The rhetoric has conjured up comparisons to another culture clash that played out in a Tennessee courtroom a hundred miles and nearly a century away from Murfreesboro, a college city of 100,000 that is among the fastest-growing communities in the country. In 1925, the world watched as evolution came under attack at the Scopes monkey trial in Dayton, Tenn.

Even the group that provided the information on Rowash, the Washington-based Investigative Project on Terrorism, doesn’t claim that the MySpace postings prove anything about the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro or its members.

Managing director Ray Locker said the Washington group provided the information about Rowash to a Tennessee resident who sent an inquiry about the mosque. He said how such information is used is beyond his group’s control.

“We don’t consider all Muslims to be terrorists,” he said. “The vast majority of American Muslims just want to worship freely, just like members of other religions.”

Chancellor Robert Corlew has consistently given the plaintiffs leeway to present testimony by nonexperts and documents that they cannot prove are legitimate, saying he reserves the right to strike things from the record later.

Corlew, who holds an elected office, has given little explanation for why he has allowed the testimony to stray so far afield.

Since it is not a jury trial, the judge can ultimately disregard anything he deems irrelevant. Several attorneys suggested he may want the plaintiffs, three residents who object to how the mosque came about, to feel they were able to have their say.

That could explain why Corlew has allowed Brandon to repeatedly question witnesses about whether Islam is a legitimate religion — even after the Department of Justice stepped in with a brief stating that it was.

When Farley, the commissioner, told Brandon the federal government defined Islam as a religion, Brandon responded, “Are you one of those people who believes everything the government says? Are you aware the government once said it was OK to own slaves?”

Other faiths have risen to the defense of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro. The newly formed Interfaith Coalition on Mosques, which is composed of prominent Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and Southern Baptists and other Protestants, has filed a brief in the case.

It’s good for the mosque’s opponents to get their day in court — testimony is to resume Friday — said the Rev. Joel Hunter, an evanglical megachurch pastor and coalition member.

But it’s “really out there” to question whether Islam is a religion, said Hunter, who leads a Longwood, Fla., congregation called Northland, A Church Distributed.

Seeking to prove that the mosque has terrorist leanings, witnesses have pointed out that board member Mosaad Rowash previously had pro-Hamas postings on his MySpace page, something the mosque’s leaders have not denied. The U.S. government considers Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic political party with an armed wing that has attacked Israel, a terrorist organization.

The political views of Rowash — who hasn’t been called to testify and hasn’t commented publicly — and other board members are “totally irrelevant,” said Deborah Lauter, the director of civil rights for the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, which sponsors the interfaith coalition.

If all of the members of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro were public cheerleaders for Hamas, it would still be illegal to discriminate against them because the First Amendment protects freedom of worship, she said.

That wasn’t the message of witness Frank Gaffney, the president and founder of the Washington-based Center for Security Policy and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration.

While acknowledging he was not an expert on Shariah law, Gaffney testified that Shariah, and by extension the new mosque, poses a threat to America.

Shariah isn’t really law, at least not law as a universally recognized, codified body of rules and rights, the way Americans have come to know it. Shariah is a set of core principles that most Muslims recognize as well as a series of rulings from religious scholars.

It’s some of those rulings, such as stoning a woman to death for committing adultery, that many non-Muslim Americans find reprehensible. But many Muslims, in America and around the world, are equally horrified by them, said Mohammad Fadel, an assistant professor of law at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law and an expert on Islamic law.

The mosque project has had problems outside court as well. A sign at the construction site was spray-painted with the words “Not Welcome” and torn in half, and federal investigators have offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in what they say was the arson of a dump truck on the grounds.

Hunter, the Florida pastor, said he studied American history in college and knows that what is happening to Muslims today has happened to other groups in the past.

“Every minority — and Islam is very much a minority in this country right now — has had to struggle for equal rights,” he said. “Islam is facing that now and we will not rest until they have equal rights with other religions.”

 

Mufreesboro: “America Better Off Without Muslims”

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on October 28, 2010 by loonwatch

I don’t want to saturate today’s posts with Murfreesboro nuttiness, but this one was too good to pass up. So essentially some witnesses in the Murfreesboro Mosque trial are also funding groups who are “educating the public on the dangers of Islam.” (hat tip: Eric Allen Bell)

These witnesses also believe America should get rid of Muslims and that if anyone is teaching from the Quran it is against the law because the law is to teach from the Bible!

Witnesses fund lawsuit against local mosque

By: CHRISTIAN GRANTHAM, Post Contributor
Posted: Thursday, October 21, 2010 8:03 pm

A witness in the Murfreesboro mosque trial said she believed America would be better off without Muslims and pledged support to fight a proposed mosque in her community.

Murfreesboro resident Jeanetta Alford was called to the stand Thursday in an effort by plaintiffs to stop the construction of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro in Rutherford County.

“If anyone is teaching out of the Qur’an, then yes, you are breaking the law,” Alford told the court. “I believe we have to follow the Bible and respect our government.”

Alford went on to describe the dangers of Sharia law and her new found fear of Islam after studying publications and hearing from local mosque opponents. Read the rest

 

Future Islamic Center of Murfreesboro Site Set on Fire

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2010 by loonwatch

Islamophobia? What Islamophobia?

Fire at Tenn. Mosque Building Site Ruled Arson

Federal officials are investigating a fire that started overnight at the site of a new Islamic center in a Nashville suburb.

Ben Goodwin of the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department confirmed to CBS Affiliate WTVF that the fire, which burned construction equipment at the future site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, is being ruled as arson.

Special Agent Andy Anderson of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told CBS News that the fire destroyed one piece of construction equipment and damaged three others. Gas was poured over the equipment to start the fire, Anderson said.

The ATF, FBI and Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office are conducting a joint investigation into the fire, Anderson said.

WTVF reports firefighters were alerted by a passerby who saw flames at the site. One large earth hauler was set on fire before the suspect or suspects left the scene.

The chair of the center’s planning committee, Essim Fathy, said he drove to the site at around 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning after he was contacted by the sheriff’s department.

“Our people and community are so worried of what else can happen,” said Fathy. “They are so scared.”

The fire was smoldering by the time Fathy and the center’s imam, Ossama Bahloul, had arrived. Fathy was told that responders had smelled gasoline near the fire.

Fathy was later contacted by members of the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, who told him the incident was under investigation and to remain calm.

Digging had begun at the site, which was planned as a place of worship for the approximately 250 Muslim families in the Murfreesboro area, but no structure had been built yet, according to Saleh Sbenaty, a member of the planning committee and a professor of engineering technology at Middle Tennessee State University.

“This is a shock,” said Sbenaty. “We’ve had small act of vandals. But this is going to be a crime and whoever did it, they should be punished to the full extent of the law.”

The center had operated for years out of a small business suite. Planning members said the new building, which was being constructed next to a church, would help accommodate the area’s growing Muslim community.

“We unfortunately did not experience hostilities for the 30 years we’ve been here and have only seen the hostility since approval of the site plan for the new center,” said Sbenaty.

Opponents of a new Islamic center say they believe the mosque will be more than a place of prayer; they are afraid the 15-acre site that was once farmland will be turned into a terrorist training ground for Muslim militants bent on overthrowing the U.S. government.

“They are not a religion. They are a political, militaristic group,” Bob Shelton, a 76-year-old retiree who lives in the area, told The Associated Press.

Shelton was among several hundred demonstrators who recently wore “Vote for Jesus” T-shirts and carried signs that said “No Sharia law for USA!,” referring to the Islamic code of law.

Others took their opposition further, spray painting a sign announcing the “Future site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro” and tearing it up.

Earlier this summer opponents criticized the planned mosque at hearings held by the Rutherford County Commission, as supporters held prayer vigils.

At one such prayer vigil, WTVF reported opponents speaking out against construction.

“No mosque in Murfreesboro. I don’t want it. I don’t want them here,” Evy Summers said to WTVF. “Go start their own country overseas somewhere. This is a Christian country. It was based on Christianity.”

 

Barack Obama in Freedom of Religion Speech: Muslims Have a Right to Build in NYC

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2010 by loonwatch

Barack Obama commented on the Cordoba Center that will be near Ground Zero, reaffirming freedom of religion as an essential American value.

Islamophobes were furious about this. For many of them this probably confirmed their belief that Obama is a Muslim.

Robert Spencer was on record writing,

Obama is in effect saying that you can build a triumphal mosque marking Islam’s superiority and victory — which is how the Ground Zero mosque will be viewed in the Islamic world — and you can lie about your funding, and lie about your commitment to interreligious dialogue and harmony, and refuse to denounce jihad terrorists, and all that is just fine with him.

Pamela Geller had this to say through an SIOA news release,

Obama “has, in effect, sided with the Islamic jihadists and told the ummah (at an Iftar dinner on the third night of Ramadan) that he believes in and supports what will be understood in the Islamic world as a triumphal mosque on a site of Islamic conquest.”

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvFUakL-bqw 350 300]

Obama throws support behind controversial Islamic Center

Washington (CNN) — President Obama threw his support behind a controversial proposal to build an Islamic center and mosque near New York’s ground zero, saying Friday that “Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country.”

“That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances,” Obama said at a White House Iftar dinner celebrating the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The president’s remarks drew praise from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who announced his support for the Islamic center last week.

Bloomberg compared Obama’s speech to a letter President George Washington wrote in support of a Jewish congregation in Newport, Rhode Island. “President Obama’s words tonight evoked President Washington’s own august reminder that ‘all possess alike liberty,’ ” Bloomberg said in a statement.

“I applaud President Obama’s clarion defense of the freedom of religion tonight,” he said.

To learn more about the “ground zero” mosque, see CNN’s Belief Blog

Critics of the proposed Islamic center quickly denounced Obama’s remarks. “President Obama is wrong,” said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.). “It is insensitive and uncaring for the Muslim community to build a mosque in the shadow of Ground Zero. Unfortunately, the President caved into political correctness.”

“While the Muslim community has the right to build the mosque, they are abusing that right by needlessly offending so many people who have suffered so much,” King said in a statement. “The right and moral thing for President Obama to have done was to urge Muslim leaders to respect the families of those who died and move their mosque away from Ground Zero.”

What do you think about this issue? Tell us on video

Obama, who said he was speaking both as a citizen and as president, invoked the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which critics of the Islamic center cite as the main reason for preventing its construction.

“We must all recognize and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of lower Manhattan,” Obama said, according to his prepared remarks. “The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country.”

“The pain and suffering experienced by those who lost loved ones is unimaginable,” he continued. “So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. Ground zero is, indeed, hallowed ground.”

 

But Obama said one “reason that we will win this fight” against terrorism is “our capacity to show not merely tolerance, but respect to those who are different from us — a way of life that stands in stark contrast to the nihilism of those who attacked us on that September morning, and who continue to plot against us today.”

Repeatedly invoking the nation’s founders and examples of religious tolerance from American history, the president argued that national ideals and the Constitution demanded that the project proceed.

He noted that Thomas Jefferson hosted the the first Iftar dinner at the White House more than 200 years ago and said that the country had previously seen “controversies about the construction of synagogues or Catholic churches.”

“But time and again,” he said, “the American people have demonstrated that we can work through these issues.”

“This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable,” Obama said. “The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are. The writ of our Founders must endure.”

The proposed Islamic center has provoked vocal opposition from some families of 9/11 victims and other groups. Nearly 70 percent of Americans oppose the plan, according to CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll released Wednesday.

“Obama came out for the Islamic supremacist mosque at the hallowed ground of 911 attack,” Pamela Geller, a leading foe of the Islamic center, wrote on her blog Friday night. “He has, in effect, sided with the Islamic jihadists.”

Muslim Americans, meanwhile, applauded the speech. “It was pitch perfect and it was cut and dry,” said Eboo Patel, executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core and a Muslim adviser to the White House on faith issues. “He said that our Founding Fathers built a nation on religious freedom where people from different faiths can pray and thrive and that is that.”

Some Muslims said they were surprised to hear the president weigh in on the controversy.

“It’s such a hot potato and he’s already got so much on his plate and people jumping on him for any hint of an Islamic connection,” said Akbar Ahmed, an American University professor who attended Friday’s White House dinner. “But he plunged in and took a very bold position.”

The Islamic center’s leaders say they plan to build the $100 million, 13-story facility called Cordoba House three blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks. The developer, Sharif El-Gamal, describes the project as an “Islamic community center” that will include a 500-seat performing arts center, a lecture hall, a swimming pool, a gym, a culinary school, a restaurant and a prayer space for Muslims.

On Wednesday, the project’s developers declined an offer by New York Gov. David Paterson to relocate the project to a state-owned site.

Earlier this month, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously denied landmark status for the building where the proposed Islamic center would stand, allowing the project to move forward.

 

St. Rose of Lima Church was opposed by Murfreesoboro Residents

Posted in Loon Pastors, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on July 28, 2010 by loonwatch

Very interesting article from the website HispanicNashville on the parallels between the Murfreesboro Mosque and the first Catholic Church built in Murfreesboro.

St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, like mosque today, was opposed by Murfreesboro residents

The first Catholic person in the Americas to become a saint, Saint Rose of Lima, was born in the capital city of Peru. A church in nearby Murfreesboro bears her name. And like a local mosque that faces vocal opposition for a recently announced building project, the history of Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church of Murfreesboro also reveals local opposition to one of its planned houses of worship, according to the Daily News-Journal:

A New York couple, Mr. and Mrs. Francis Hoffman, stopped in Murfreesboro on a train trip in 1925. During the layover, they searched in vain for a Catholic church and mass. “Some months later Bishop A. J. Smith in Nashville received a gift to build a chapel” in Murfreesboro. Mrs. Hoffman requested that the new place of worship be named for her patron saint, Saint Rose of Lima.

A lot on the northeast corner of University and Lytle was purchased for the new church from Helen C. Earthman on April 25, 1929, for $2,500.

This plan to construct the county’s first Catholic Church was the target of a local KKKprotest march.

The Daily News-Journal article quotes 93-year-old Murfreesboro historian C.B. Arnette, 93, who witnessed the march protesting the new building for the Saint Rose of Lima congregation.  Arnette said you could recognize marchers by their shoes: one marcher was a local physician, and another was a Church of Christ preacher.

What was the reason for the opposition to Catholics?  The Tennessean points out the history of the 20th century KKK as an organization created in opposition to (mostly Catholic) immigration, preaching “racism, anti-Catholicism, nativism (favoring of native inhabitants over immigrants) and anti-Semitism.”  A commenter points out that Catholics were described as national security threats:

In the 1920s, Hiram Evans, the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan rose to prominence with a populist, nativistic, and anti-intellectual message to the American public. Klan members identified the Irish and Italian members of Anarchists, IWW, and WFM organizations as national threats that sought to overthrow the government through force. The Klan’s job was to protect Americans from these corrosive elements. They labeled Individuals such as Carlo Tresca, Mother Jones, and Nicola Sacco as “bomb-throwing lunatics.” The Catholics also came under close scrutiny because the pope was a “monarchist” and the Catholics subverted the nation. The Catholic “monarchists” would never assimilate because their religious structure conflicted with the republican ideas of Protestants who had decentralized church hierarchies.

Construction of Saint Rose of Lima’s new building continued anyway, and the building was dedicated just six months after the property was purchased.  The congregation of Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church of Murfreesboro thrives to this day.

Modern parallels to Saint Rose of Lima history

In modern-day Murfreesboro, the announcement of the construction of a new mosque building, where Muslim faith would be practiced, has also faced opposition.  As reported locally and nationally – including by ABC News – much of the opposition to the mosque has come from local Christians and been in general opposition to Islam:

“We have a duty to investigate anyone under the banner of Islam,” Allen Jackson, thepastor of World Outreach Church, said at the meeting.

Others were quoted by the Tennessean with similar remarks:

“Everybody knows they are trying to kill us.” -Karen Harrell

“Islam is a system of government. Islam is a system of justice. … “I’m afraid we’ll have a training facility in Rutherford County.” -George Erdel

“It’s an ideology. It’s not a religion.” -Bob Hayes

But some Christians and others, including Mike Williams of Smyrna (quoted in another Tennesseanarticle), have gathered and spoken out in favor of the mosque’s construction project:

[Mike] Williams, who attends All Saints Episcopal Church in Smyrna, said he believes “very strongly that all of us are the children of a God.

“We are entitled to an equal inheritance. In America, our inheritance is freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the color of skin. In short, the Constitution of the United States belongs to all of us.”

Williams is one of a number of politicians who have sided with the Constitution on this controversy.  Another is Ben Leming:

I made a stand to protect the rights of every American, not just those that form the majority.  … Unfortunately, there are many people that disagree strongly with or don’t understand this basic American principle and how it should protect the rights of others. … Right now they are lining up to deny other Americans their Constitutional rights and discredit our mission to put the people of Middle Tennessee first in Washington.

Words of wisdom for Christians and Muslims alike, as quoted by the Tennessean, came from MTSU professor Rabbi Rami Shapiro:

“I think people should listen very carefully to their clergy and what they teach. If they teach violence and hatred (of other religions), I think it is incumbent upon the parishioner to get up and walk out.”

 

Tennessee: Mosque Vandalized Once Again

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , on June 24, 2010 by loonwatch

A mosque has been targeted by vandals once again in Tennessee.

Sign Vandalized at future mosque site

by Mark Bell

A sign marking the future site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro was found vandalized for the second time in less than six months Wednesday, according to an Islamic Center spokesperson.

“At this time we’re going to release one statement and that is that this has been a very unfortunate incident and we are just trying to be good neighbors,” said Carmie Ayash.

Abdou Kattih called the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday around 1:30 p.m. in reference to the vandalism. Deputy Trent Givens, who was patrolling the area, responded to the incident.
Givens’ report reads that Kattih said “he had been alerted by someone who lived nearby that the sign had been vandalized again.

“While speaking with Kattih, I observed that both posts had been knocked backward in the ground and the sign was leaning,” Givens reported. “Also the main part of the sign had been ripped. It appeared that someone had used an unknown object to hit both of the posts and then struck the top right of the sign and ripped it in two.”

The deputy noted that the object used appeared to have raised areas that left a very distinct pattern on the wood and metal.

“At this time there are no known witnesses,” he reported. “I had conducted a traffic stop on Millwood Court before this call. I cleared the stop at (1:04 p.m.) and then proceeded down Veals Road from Bradyville Pike. At that time the sign had not yet been vandalized.”

The sheriff’s office has placed an extra patrol on the site “indefinitely” per patrol Capt. Mike Fitzhugh.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said the latest vandalism is fitting a “sharp rise in anti-Muslim sentiment in this society.”

The Washington-based civil rights and advocacy group, through spokesman Ibrahim Hooper, said they believe the acts are being promoted by a number of hate groups promoting the demonization of Islam and marginalization of Muslims.

“A mosque was bombed in May in Florida and there was no national media coverage at all,” he said. “We’re seeing opposition to mosques being taken to very hysterical proportions” due to “a number of bizarre conspiracy theories,” including the theory that “Muslims are trying to take over the country.”

Hooper said it is disturbing to see the kinds of things that are happening in communities all around the nation, not just in the south.

“We’re seeing the demonization of Islam in our country and it leads a very vocal minority to take these extremist kinds of actions nationwide,” he said. “This is caused by a lack of knowledge and lack of interaction with ordinary Muslims. When people know more about Islam and interact with ordinary Muslims, prejudice goes down.”

A report put out by CAIR in 2006, the most recent of its kind, states that approximately “one in four Americans believes that Islam is a religion of hatred and violence,” remaining unchanged since 2004. The level of knowledge of Islam also remained virtually unchanged from the 2004 report, indicating that only two percent of survey respondents indicated that they were “very knowledgeable” about the religion.

“A vast majority of Americans said they would change their views about Muslims if Muslims would condemn terrorism more strongly, show more concern for Americans or work to improve the status of Muslim women or American image in the Muslim world,” the report states.

Hooper said CAIR will likely issue a public statement about the vandalism as soon as today.

“You really have to shine a light on bigotry and hope the mainstream people in the communitycome out against it,” he said.

— Mark Bell, 615-278-5153