Hands across the ’Boro

Monday, September 6, 2010 at 11:45pm

Leaders of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro are opening their doors to their Middle Tennessee town in the wake of an ongoing controversy that turned violent two weekends ago.

With the deliberate burning of excavation equipment at the site of the proposed mosque and community center on Aug. 28 came renewed calls for calm in a debate that has turned Murfreesboro upside down, revealing a strain of bitter anti-Islamic sentiment.

“It’s a mixed feeling of fear, worry, some people thinking, ‘Are we going to get hurt in this?’ ” said Essam Fathy, a project coordinator for the new mosque who has lived in Murfreesboro for 29 years. “You’re trying to calm everybody as much as you can, knowing that anything can be happening. If somebody allows themselves to go that far and do something like this, you don’t know how far they can go or how far they would allow themselves to go. They’re delivering a message … and I’m sure that message is, ‘Watch out.’ ”

Last Monday, some 200 people gathered at the steps of the Rutherford County Courthouse and held a candlelight vigil in support of local Muslims. Despite disruptions from about 20 dissenters who stood at the back of the rally, the sentiment was one of tolerance and togetherness.

“I think Murfreesboro is getting the image, and it’s getting all over the country and all over the world, I guess, that we’re a bunch of haters, and we’re certainly not,” said Bud Harmon, who said he’s lived in Murfreesboro for 40 years. “This community is not about that. So I think us folks that believe in religious freedom need to stand up, do something about it.”

Fathy said the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, in operation for close to 30 years, is inviting anyone with questions about Islam or the congregation’s plans for a 52,900-square-foot expansion to simply come by and ask.

The congregation’s current facility is too small, leaders say. There are about 250 member families, which — including children — adds up to some 1,000 people overall. According to spokeswoman Camie Ayash, the first phase of construction includes an entryway and a multipurpose room for activities like daily prayer, for a total of about 7,000 square feet.

A construction crew broke ground at the site on Friday, Aug. 20.

Filed under: City News

5 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 9/7/10 at 7:33

Based on actions by both sides this proposed mosque is getting much more attention than deserved. Constant local media feeds to the national networks only increases those wanting more air time. The discussion on Islam, it's believers, and affect on the US will go on for decades to come!

By: HokeyPokey on 9/7/10 at 8:42

Lately all I hear is that Islam isn't a "religion," it's a way of life that includes control of everything.

Not an original idea, by any means: http://bit.ly/YouThinkIslamIsBad

By: SargeE5 on 9/7/10 at 10:41

HokeyPokey, I know that saying Islam isn't a religion is not an original idea, but the facts, are the facts. Islam is NOT a religion, it is a total theocracy, it does in fact control every aspect of the believers life. May I suggest you get informed, because the way of life you do save, will most definitely be you own. Suggested reading, "The Son of Hamas", written by the converted to Christianity son of the founder of Hamas, the terrorist organization. I'm sure you will find it very enlightening. You may also want to google Geert Wilders, and Bridget Gabriel. Do not make the mistake of believing that Islam is harmless.

By: i.am.a.taxpayer on 9/7/10 at 2:12

People who say absurd things about Islam apparently do not personally know any real Muslims.

The nut-job fringe fundamentalists do not represent Islam. Usually they are from some parts of the Middle East and some areas of Africa. The largest group of Muslims is in Indonesia!

Most real Muslims are God-loving and peace seeking. The same goes for Christians, Jews and other faiths. The torture, hate and killing directed toward others (in the name of ANY religion) does not reflect its basic principles. God has gotten blamed for warlike behavior, but he merely allowed it and never caused it.

By: HokeyPokey on 9/7/10 at 4:41

@ 3stripes: did you follow the link? Are you aware that other religions other than Islam might claim influence over more than just what happens during their worship service?

Are you unaware that prominent Christians in the USA have called for theocracy for years?

I don't honor Christian claims that USA is a Christian nation and should be a theocracy any more than I honor Islamic claims that the USA should be a theocracy.