Community reaches out to local Islamic Center after hate crime

Thursday, February 11, 2010 at 1:23am

Photo by Jude Ferrara/The City Paper

On a cold and windy February night, a man who gave only his first name walked up to the Al-Farooq Islamic Center in south Nashville and handed a gallon of stain-blocker paint and a bag of brushes, rollers and rags to a Somali man standing in the parking lot.

Tim, an East Nashville resident, said he did the first thing he could think of when he drove by the center Wednesday and saw the words “Muslims Go home” and a crusade-style cross spray-painted in red across the front of the center, which doubles as a mosque.

“When I saw it, I just broke down crying,” the self-described unemployed truck driver said. “I went straight to Home Depot and bought a gallon of paint.”

As he handed over the paint he said, “I can’t tell you how sorry I am. I hope you know that [this act] doesn’t represent my city. Again, I can’t tell you how sorry I am.”

Members of the mostly Somali congregation discovered their building had been defaced when they arrived between 5:30 and 6 a.m. for the first of five daily prayers Wednesday. They say the graffiti, the first ever at the center where they’ve held daily prayers since 2003, will be painted over Thursday.

Ahmed Shukri, a Belmont medical student who attends prayers at the mosque, said the damage was hard to believe.

“When we see these, we were shocked — we’re all neighbors here,” he said. “There’s a trucking company across the street. There’s a church next door. We help them. We are all together.”

In addition to the vandalism, The City Paper obtained a copy of a note members found taped to the outside of their youth training building a few blocks away. The handwritten note filled a letter-sized sheet of plain white paper. The words “The Enemy Is Islam” were underlined across the top, and the note was filled with statements tying Muslims to Satan and the downfall of Western nations.

“You Moslems [sic] are Satan’s preferred brood to destroy Christians, Jews & the whole House of Israel,” it read. “I trust no Moslem no matter how sincere you seem to be. Every Moslem nation needs to be eradicated that surrounds the Holy Land. There is no peace w/Islam!”

Salaad Nur, one of nine board members at Al-Farooq, said the congregation has received great community support since the incident and since a WTVF-Channel 5 news report about an alleged private Muslim community some are calling an Islamic terrorist training camp.

“We take it as a really strong symbol that the larger Nashville community is with us,” Nur said. “Especially in the face of inciting news against us. It’s reassuring that people are not shaken by what they hear over the airwaves.”

Nur said he and other board members plan to meet with FBI agents Thursday to determine what to do if the potential hate crimes progress.

Metro police spokesperson Kristin Mumford said hate crimes in Nashville are “fortunately not a common occurrence.”

The spray-painting incident at the center is eerily similar to the reported vandalism to a Jefferson Street mural commemorating the civil rights movement. In that September incident, the faces of blacks in the picture were spray-painted.

Police said they weren¹t able to determine if it was done as a prank by kids or by someone with racist intent.

“It doesn¹t fall into the same category,” Mumford said. “They painted their faces, but it wasn¹t clear from the situation that it was a hate crime.”

Nur said he doesn’t want his or any other Islamic congregation to have to deal with this again.

“Hopefully this is resolved; it’s an isolated incident,” he said.

13 Comments on this post:

By: oldhickorytony on 2/11/10 at 5:50

This is first news venue where I learned about Tim and/or what he did. Good job City Paper and thanks goes out to Tim and any other folks that stepped in!

While the WTVF-Channel 5 report (mentioned in this article) on the Islamic community outside of Dover was ultimately a positive one, they were typically shameless in their sensationalist headlines and in the way they were promoting it in order to get more people to watch. If you didn't actually watch the report, then you would still think that they were a terrorist camp. And maybe I'm remembering this wrong, but it seems like it wasn't until the second installment (on the second day) of the report that one discovered that NOTHING is going on at this private compound.

By: dargent7 on 2/11/10 at 5:53

These "White Supremicists", or "Aryan Nation" people better get educated real quick on the severity of their crime. Who ever painted it is facing serious jail time, and felony charges. Want to do 10 years in the Big House? Keep it up.

By: njmccune on 2/11/10 at 7:42

The language of the note should leave no doubt as the the level of intelligence of the writer. This is more "good ole boy" Tennessee crap.

By: on 2/11/10 at 8:03

It is embarassing that in such a welcoming city, some ignorant people would do this to a place of worship. But it is good to see that really decent people support the Muslims. The terrorists are no more representative of Muslims than Timothy McVeigh represented Christianity. In every group, there are people who are dysfunctional to some degree. The terrorists are extremely dysfunctional, as are the people who wrote these hateful messages.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 2/11/10 at 8:43

such shameful ignorance....

By: dangerlover on 2/11/10 at 3:18

Too bad there isn't a bar nearby...then maybe someone close would have had a gun to shoot whoever did this.


By: Blanketnazi2 on 2/11/10 at 4:13

well, there are 3 bars close by. too bad they're all gay bars.....

By: shef2 on 2/11/10 at 8:23

Lionel and I live quite near there. This is one of, what we would consider, a "Hate Crime", and I hope they catch whoever did this, to be severely punished-! Did this (or these nasty people KNOW that the Security Camera was OUT, being repaired-???
We are VERY sorry this happened to the Center. Our Neighborhood has a lot of diversity, which we happen to like... We have our SNAP (Wedgewood Houston) monthly Neighborhood meetings, for the express purpose of binding our residents together to improve our area.
Oh, by the way, Blanketnazi2, quit your "homo-hating" dig. - No one needs that kind of comment.
Love, Susan

By: Stublore on 2/12/10 at 11:00

Tell me, just what exactly constitutes a Crusader style cross???
Exactly how common is such a depiction ?
Which groups are most knowledgeable about these things?
How exactly did McVeigh link his actions explicitly to his christian beliefs?
Did he leave a note referencing the bible and the commands in there that told him to do what he did?
If not then your "point" is irrelevant and obfuscatory in nature.
However there are some muslims that have committed atrocities and done this explicitly in the name of allah, and with koranic and hadith references to justify their actions.

By: dangerlover on 2/13/10 at 1:47

Dear Susan, if that is your real name, I think it's pretty clear that Blanketnazi was not hating on homos. He was simply pointing out that typically homo-gays do not carry guns. Unless they are homo-gays playing basketball for UT, in which case they most definitely do carry guns with the serial numbers scratched off so that if they get caught in a gay bar with their gun then nobody can trace it back to them and prove they are gay.

By: herald on 2/14/10 at 12:21

On the "Crusader Cross:" A big cross surrounded by 4 small ones is the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Jerusalem in crusader times. Many people who have read up on the crusades would know this.

By: whatheheck on 2/14/10 at 5:54

By: Blanketnazi2 on 2/11/10 at 4:13

well, there are 3 bars close by. too bad they're all gay bars.....

Ooh, but they would've given them such a slapping!!

By: roninjoey on 2/15/10 at 10:00

A slapping? What is this, 1952? I know some gay Texans who could probably kick your nellie butt :P

Refreshing story though.